Ubuntu install log

Ubuntu install log – target machine Acer TravelMate C110, Pentium M, 500Mb, 40Gb.

Also has D-Link DWL-G630 card (gives 802.11g rather than b), which works native in Edgy (and presumably later), according to confusing hardware support list.

Early Feb 2008: Downloaded the CD image from Ubuntu – 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon on to work desktop. Downloaded and installed WinMD5Sum to check the download is Ok. It is. Save for rainy day.

19 Feb 2008 – Not actually raining today but I need to tidy up, so an install while I do that seems a good plan.

11.15 – Downloaded and installed InfraRecorder to burn the CD image

11.30 – Started InfraRecorder burn – failed – blank CD duff? Not clear from error message “Input/Output error.write_g1: scsi sencmd: noerror CDB: [string of hex digits] status: 0”. Didn’t think this machine was SCSI inside anyway.  Also realised don’t have power supply cord for target machine so abandon project for now.

13.55 Got another blank CD – started writing, seems Ok.

14.00 Stopped, with an error (as before) It’s certainly not worked. Suspect the CD writer.

14.10 Ok, try writing on the target machine (have found power supply); downloading image to there.

14.25 Got image. Installed WinMD5Sum, but it crashes. Machine wants to reboot (background Windows Update perhaps to blame) and I need to plug in the CD drive anyway, so off it goes for reboot #1.

14.35 Oh for heaven’s sake. Still crashes. Downloading MD5 from Fourmilab instead. That works and hash checks out fine.

14.40 Writing image using CD writing s/w already on the tablet. (NTI CD-Maker 2000 Plus – very now name)

14.50 Done, CD Ok. Right, trying to boot from it! Oops, missed F2 first time round, tried again, got it – Ubuntu booted! Installing.

14.55 Oh dear. Screen has gone blank and a couple of broken snatches of cheesy music played before stopping. Drive is still spinning so leave it to think … oh, Ok, seems to have installed. Oh, no it hasn’t, it’s just booted – I’m guessing from the desktop with ‘Examples’ and ‘Install’ on it. Maybe ‘Install’ is what I want. Aha – bet this is actually Ubuntu Live (version you boot from CD). Install!

5.00 Note to self: Wifi/Bluetooth light is flashing red – not right. Remember to fix.

15.00 Nice installer so far. Lovely touch to have a text box to type to check your keyboard. Astonishingly few config options – just select location, keyboard and initial user account data. (Ghods I hate passwords – far too many to remember. And I particularly hate password expiry, which my main work password has. I have a good memory for arbitrary strings, but not if I have to keep changing them. Bruce Schneier might say write them down and keep them in your wallet but a legible written list wouldn’t fit in my pocket.) Right, left it doing the install proper.

15.25 It’s done! Rebooting to my shiny new operating system.

15.30 Ah – much slicker cheesy music after the login screen. The boot is terrifyingly blank, I must say. It’s recommended restricted drivers … for the software modem driver? I don’t need that. Ignore. Start Firefox!

15.40 Bother, can get to websites on-site, but not beyond. Tried tracert to explore, got helpful report telling me it wasn’t installed and to try ‘sudo apt-get install traceroute’ … which then told me ‘Package traceroute is not available, but is referred to by another package.’ Ah well. What’s with traceroute? Trying configuring the proxy by hand, if I can remember/dig out the settings.

15.45 Yay! Done! I’m updating this from my laptop running Ubuntu. Job done, basically. That was easy. Oh – need to check: works on WiFi (PCMCIA card), get tablet features working, sort the WiFi/Bluetooth notification (don’t want it turned on by default – and how to do on/off).

16.10 Oh. Hibernate doesn’t work – it crashes when you turn back on again. Perl is there and working, but there’s something not instantly right with C – can’t find stdio.h (easy config tweak surely). Nice to be playing with Unixy stuff again – comes back quickly, thankfully. WiFi seems to work fine on the card, cool. Can’t be doing with the tablet features actually. Oh – check can use external monitor? (No, not yet, need play with X conf, ouch.)

16.30 Ah. Found the Update Manager. >250Mb of updates. Ah well – left those downloading.

17.00 libc6 update failed, because it couldn’t create /etc/ld.so.cache (read-only file system). Also ‘could not create log directory /root/.synaptic/log/’ for the same reason. Hmm. And that’s left Update Manager crashed. Took a bit of hunting to remember I wanted ps -e to get the PID to kill it. Ah – and even once I’d done that I couldn’t start it again. Or Synaptic. Bother. Also keep getting warnings that the application ‘nm-applet’ attempted to change an aspect of my configuration that my system administrator says not to. Ah well. No time now. And since Hibernate isn’t working anyway it’ll have a reboot next time I get to it.

Things todo: C and C++ need build-essential installed. Also explore PHP. Optimise kernel – find appropriate linux-image (Intel Pentium M). Try http://stefan.dnsalias.net/howto/c110.html for useful bits, especially to get the Bluetooth/WiFi turned off.


Trying Ubuntu

I decided to try out Ubuntu so I can live in the Linux world a bit. I have a semi-aged tablet PC (an Acer TravelMate C110) lying around. I used to use it heavily as a totable laptop (ignoring the tablet features). It’s got negligible use since I got a shinier notebook (Samsung Q40), so it was ripe for a low-demand, try-it-out OS installation. I was hoping to do better than my colleague Patrick who tried out Fedora core on an old laptop … which then melted. (Oops.)

Summary: It was really much, much easier than you think if you’re technically competent and are at all familiar with Linux. I had far more trouble trying to burn the installation CD (under Windows XP) than I did actually installing Ubuntu on the tablet. So all your mates who tell you Ubuntu is very little bother to install are probably right – if you are fairly technically savvy and have come across Unix at some point as a user. If you’re not, you will probably get bewildered at some point, if not many.

It’s a nice operating system so far. It’s noticeably faster booting and browsing than the old Windows XP system was on the same hardware. I’ve not tried doing anything too clever yet, but for basics it’s great. It is lovely having a shiny GUI but with the gubbins easily accessible under the hood. (And there is a *lot* of gubbins.)

Ubuntu has fantastically simplified the whole process (my previous encounters were with RedHat and SUSE years and years ago ) … although even the shiny, user-friendly stuff suffers from open-source unnecessary forking. Do I want Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu … or one of the unofficial versions? Most people don’t know, don’t care, and don’t want to spent precious time finding out.

Next post will be a more detailed install log for those of you who care about such things. (Both of you.)