We have Ubuntu installed on two of the machines at home and recently, after losing a Windows restore disc, I suggested installing Ubuntu 10.04 on her Dell 1545 after my suggestion.
As installations go, it was relatively painless – certainly better than reinstalling Windows. Don’t get me wrong, Dell is better than most in this respect as they gave us OEM install discs for Windows Vista, bundled software and the drivers. As strait forward as this is with Dell’s resource CD (it mostly tells you what you need), it doesn’t know any more than what model you own. This is problematic with the wireless card for example as there are two revision states and the drivers are incompatible with each other – one crashes Windows.
In the interests of not becoming blinkered to one distribution, I thought I might give Fedora 11 a whirl. Not having used Fedora since FC4, I was surprised to see the adoption of a live CD installation and relieved to avoid a DVD size download. Just like Ubuntu it’s well polished, perhaps more so with graphical grub.
Update: You no longer need to install udev-extras in Ubuntu 10.04.
I picked up a Huawei E1550 pre-pay mobile broadband dongle, £39.99 with 3 Mobile including 3Gb usage (note it’s not the device they’re picturing).
I’m on a course next month so that’ll do fine, I have no reception at home and am not away enough to warrant a contract.
It appears to identify itself as USB storage, to install drivers on Windows then flip-flops to a modem. Nice idea, terrible implementation, even in Windows where it installs drivers every time you use a different USB port (it’s often wise to try such devices in Windows – so you don’t chase your tail with a faulty device). Pretty sure it’s the autorun program that’s flipping the device.
I love my Aspire One but have come to be less impressed by the Linpus distro installed. So at the weekend I decided to try Arch Linux, which as a long time Slackware fan I had heard worked well and had good documentation.
Its all up and running and other than two quirks, the guide on Arch Wiki is spot on.
As I said, I came across two quirks – the install image used kernel 2.6.26, which detects the r8196 module for the network but for some reason will not answer a dhcp request after reboot (only after reboot) – so replace it with 2.26.27 before reboot. You’ll need to anyway because the Atheros wireless chipset in the Aspire One is supported OOB on the more recent kernel.
The second is well documented, that ext2 partitions on SD are corrupted on suspend. I opted for an XFS partition though and have not had any issues.
The only things I haven’t got working are suspend to RAM and the WiFi light (although the switch works). Neither of these is a show-stopper because I’ve got boot time down to under 18 seconds which is only a few seconds more than resume from RAM.
I’d also advise binning dhcpd and using wicd – which integrates well with XFCE and being a daemon means WiFi is up before you’ve got a desktop.
Really impressed with Arch, a distro I haven’t used before. It’s from the minimalist camp and allows a tailored installation with little or no cruft. Its documentation is fantastic (I have seen a few ideas that I intend to implement in Ubuntu!).
Acer have made some alterations to the xfce4-panel, you probably noticed that you can’t right click and add launchers.
Edit: For anyone who came here to find out how to enable the “advanced menu” or XFCE menu on right click – Open your documents, click “File->Terminal” and type “xfce-setting-show” or just “xfce-se” then hit tab. Click “Desktop->Behaviour” and then tick “Show desktop menu on right click”.
I have a workaround but haven’t worked out why yet. Open a terminal (from a Thunar window if you haven’t enable the right click on the desktop). Now if you look in .config/xfce4/panel there is your standard xml file to layout the panel. If you alter this, on relaunching the panel it overwrites it with the default.
The odd thing is that the un-patched panel is still there, and works as normal (look in /usr/bin – there are two panels, one renamed xfce4-panel.old). Well for some reason that I haven’t fathomed, if you kill the running panel then alter the config then run xfce4-panel.old then restart it the xml config is not overwritten.