Sunday, 7 February 2010

Karmic Compaq: Installing Ubuntu 9.10 on a Presario PC

Ubuntu wordmark officialImage via Wikipedia

The Compaq Presario SR5109UK is my first desktop PC, since the late 90s all I have owned are laptops and now netbooks. I really do prefer the mobile nature of a laptop and sitting/going virtually anywhere you like with it, but when my sister offered up this desktop that had been hidden under the boxes of Crimbo decorations and covered in dust I happily jumped at the opportunity. I usually install Ubuntu via a USB stick/key as I feel it is much quicker but since I had a copy of the 9.10 on a CD I choose to go the more traditional route and just place it into the multi-drive. You can always download a copy for free from Ubuntu by Clicking Here to visit the download site.

Mounting the Karmic Koala

Having converted 100% to Ubuntu back in 2007, after a year of running it side-by-side with Windoh's, my preferred option is an fresh install which allows me to partition the hard-drive and placinh the Windoh's install CD's into a recycle bin draw. Of course if you are a regular game player or you need to run some applications in Windoh's then feel free to let Ubuntu automatically set everything up for you and install both side-by-side. Below though I will list my preferences.

Once the computer reboots with the install CD in the drive it should automatically launch the Ubuntu install screen, or you can just press F11 and choose the CD/DVD drive from the list. After that I choose to install Ubuntu and follow the steps setting up my preferences until getting to the hard-drive partitioning screen. Here I choose to format the drives manually, which thanks to the graphically interface, is an easy and painless affair. My prefered partition table is always:

/ = For the root/filesystem, approx 10% of total HD, so in this case approx 15GB
swap = This I usually have twice the size of available/total RAM, so approx 3GB
/home = For all my personal stuff/file, the rest of the HD

This is just what I like, you can partition the drives as much or a little as you choose but it is recommended to have a separate '/home' partition as in the future if you ever break anything or would like to do a fresh install again all your personal files will happily sit in the '/home' partition with all your preferences intact (provided you do not reformat it).

After all that, some password stuff and naming Ubuntu begins to install and life should be sweet...

Grappling with a Krazed Koala

Something strange happened after my Ubuntu install...nothing! The computer logged in and all was frozen, not even the mouse or keyboard would work. So had to perform a hard shutdown (killed the power). Restarted, logged in, same thing happened again. So what next? Hard shutdown again, then when I got to the log in screen I selected 'Gnome Failsafe' from the Gnome sessions in the bottom right. Logged in and the desktop was working. I got online and started where everybody should the Ubuntu Forums! Also I proceeded to Launchpad to look for this bug and subsequently filed a separate bug report #517371.

Happily a simple solution was found on the Ubuntu Forums which you can find by Clicking Here (post #22), but here are the steps below:

1 - While in the Gnome Failsafe environment go into System->Preference->Appearance. In here click the 'Visual Effects' tab and select 'None'.

2 - Restart PC and log back into a normal session. The visual effects should be off and your machine working normally. Now open up a Terminal window (Application->Accessories->Terminal) and type in the following amd hit enter:

sudo aptitude remove compiz compiz-core

Once that is finished then type in the following:

sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-core fusion-icon emerald simple-ccsm

3 - Now lets get those graphics working! Click the new Compiz Fusion Icon (Applications->System Tools->Compiz Fusion Icon). It should appear in the notification area. Right click it with your mouse, select 'compiz' as your window manager, compiz options to 'indirect rendering' and the window decorator to GTK.

4 - To get the compiz fusion icon to load on start-up just quickly do the following:

A) System->Preferences->Start-Up Applications
B) Click 'Add'
C) Name: Compiz Fusion Icon
D) Command: fusion-icon -f
E) Click Save.

5 - Now close everything down and restart your PC. Everything should now be working and the freezing gone.

The Knowledgeable Karmic Koala

With the above little bump fixed time to install all my favourite repos and software. This is going to be a completely personal choice, on what you prefer or do with your PC. Though the great thing is that all this software is FREE so you can download and try whatever you like, forever how long you like and with no nasty catches. A favourite blog of mine to start with that provides an excellent guide is:

Eva's Useful Guide to Ubuntu 9.10

Here you should find everything you need to give a a very useful set-up with all the software, codecs and so on that you would use regularly. This is a great place to start and is usually always my first destination, make sure to bookmark the page!

Kool Karmic Koala

Finally I will take you briefly through how I have got the current 'look' of my desktop. For this again I recommend another great Ubuntu blog at OMG!Ubuntu!. This blog a great source for news and all sort of tweaks and up & coming software, all done with a bit of fun and very practical for end-users.

One of my favourite desktop applications is the 'Docky' panel that sits at the bottom of my screen. This replaces my lower panel but is much more functional and fun! Installing is simple as all you have to do is open up the Terminal again and type in:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:docky-core/ppa

Then install with the following:

sudo apt-get install docky

Now you are all set to tweak and set it up as you so desire. For loads moe information on Docky and what you (and will) be able to do with it head over to the OMG!Ubuntu! Docky thread

Theme wise I have OMG!Ubuntu! to thank again for introducing me to the Elementary Theme. Again, installing is straight forward and since they have a PPA your theme will stay up-to-date as they continue to develop it. Their Launchpad pad can be found by Clicking Here while you can easily install by opening the Terminal window and typing:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementaryart

Then finishing off the install with:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install elementary-theme elementary-icon-theme

Now all you have to do is go into your appearance settings (System->Preferences->Appearance) and then log out and log back in! Your new settings should not have been applied system wide.

Karmic Tunes for the Koala

Audio wise I have become a very big fan of Banshee recently, mainly thanks to their recent release of their latest version. I used to use Amarok but the recent 'reimaging' of it has lost me as a fan and up until now I have stayed with Rhythmbox music player which is the Ubuntu default. I know there are many others out there, but none just felt right. However Banshee is much more up my street and more then fills the hole left by Amarok, thus I highly recommend you giving it a try.

Karmic Ending

Except for that problem with the graphics I am highly impressed with seeing and using Ubuntu on a desktop and Karmic Koala works like a dream. One huge advantage is being able to play with the CompizConfig Settings Manager (both that and the friendlier 'simple' version are in System->Preferences if you installed via above) really allows me to get a feel for just how glorious Ubuntu looks on a desktop. The larger screen size is also a very welcome addition and I am starting to feel the need to fill it up, I think some experiments with different widgets could be occurring very soon.

I will admit that my initial response to Karmic back in October was a bit 'meh', but it is starting to make more sense now and with Ubuntu probably releasing their own version of an iTunes store with the next release together with many other stability tweaks, well, the future is looking very bright. Keep in mind that the next version, Ubuntu (10.04 Lucid Lynx), will be a Long Term Support (LTS) version that will be supported for 3 years (but a new LTS comes out every 2 years). So the step up from 9.10 to 10.04 feature wise will be a small one. I will probably be downloading an Alpha (testing) version in the coming weeks to help with testing of the next release, though the Koala has certainly gotten very attached to me so it will not be going anywhere until upgrade day in April.

Ubuntu...Linux for human beings.


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