Customizing Ubuntu

Posted by tadelste on Apr 1, 2006 6:09 PM EDT
LXer.com; By Herschel Cohen
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Notice of Intent: When Debian (desktop) fails you, what are you going to do? Panic, of course. Afterwards, try to set up Ubuntu to my liking, however, that requires modifying grub so that it once again knows about that Linux installation on hdb.

Notice of Intent:

It is my intention to start a small series that describes both my travails of getting to the Ubuntu desktop and customizing the same. These include my additions, tweaks and all but certain screwups that I by nature commit. It is my hope that showing the good, bad and indifferent I can at least give some fair warning on how to avoid the mini disasters I routinely encounter. To the other more exalted types at least they can enjoy a good snicker or two at someone else's expense.

More Than a Few Words About What was I using previously and what impelled me to change:

In essence I was quite happily ensconced with a Debian desktop based upon Sarge 3.0, Testing and just a bit of Unstable. In addition, dumped into this pot were just about everything Gnome (my preferred desktop), gobs of KDE applications, and KDE itself held in reserve (all my son's doings). His propensity for rapid key board hits and rapid experimentation left me in doubt that I could have installed Debian on my own, hence, a sense of foreboding insecurity grew. Later to this mix my son introduced me to KDE's Kaffeine. Moreover, Kaffeine could be relied upon to begin playing nearly every video media, however, it also led many times to system lockups. I began taking control by removing many excess KDE applications: mainly games. Nonetheless, many of the KDE applications were superior to those offered by Gnome, e.g. CD burning, screen shots that one could edit and other utilities. Despite this, the frequent lockups became unacceptable. Kafeine be gone, and it was done. At very least it was better.

As mentioned I began to take charge of the machine by adding new applications. I began with a video player, now I had: mplayer, xine and Totem. At least one of the three with all the codecs I had could play nearly anything acceptably. Moreover, the lockup incidents decreased with the absence of Kaffeine. Life was good with Debian.

It seems all good things have to end, sometimes very badly. In this case, it was fear engendered by my upgrades holding a larger and larger set of packages on hold (in the hundreds), which stunned my son who feared I may have missed important system security fixes. Had I known then what was about to happen, I would have taken my chances missing some of the security fixes. Attempting a dist-upgrade to Sarge 3.1 Testing and Unstable yielded an unworkable mess, even X refused to run. From there it went down hill rapidly where attempted fresh installations were as bad all due to the original Debian Sarge CD being corrupted. A new Sarge 3.1 was only slightly better and by that time my son was gone. I now learned, yes I could install Debian, which I did repeatedly to get a marginally working version on a desktop. "Working" is relative term, as in the "mind of the beholder" and compared to some earlier versions this might have been a partial pass. However, Debian had spoiled me into thinking it could be much better. Nonetheless, I was trapped with no sound (video worked), no printer and other flaws once I had a sort-of operation desktop again. I limped along this way thinking it was my failing, and only paid slight heed to mention on LXer that Debian Testing was badly flawed. I was quite confident that if there was a way to make software misbehave, I could do it.

Earlier when I had installed a second disc drive I installed Ubuntu 05.04 and was not overly impressed. Moreover, more recently I did a upgrade to version 05.10, however, at that time my Debian was more to my liking. Hence, I was not tempted to move to Ubuntu. Now with the disaster I thought I created it was becoming less and less tenable to continue using the Debian Testing desktop.

Reading several rants with people, abandoning Debian to non-apt-get and dpkg package management distributions finally convinced me that this time I was not quite the royal screw up I had assumed. My destination was set, it was the course that was the problem.

Problems Moving to Ubuntu:

Well it's there, but doing a (really many) fresh installs on the first hard drive made Grub forget about the second disc on the system. While I accessed part routinely by either a manual mounting or auto mounting in the /etc/fstab of the Debian system I could not boot into Ubuntu. Thus, my fruitless efforts to create a boot disc for Ubuntu Breezy added to the tension. Even resorted to a Windows machine without success. So I was confronted with my only option (I am lying - offered a disc, but I am stubborn) to delve into the mysteries of grub. This was contemplated with excess fear, trepidation and doubt: EFTD. My son long ago refused to help me with a problem I was having with grub. Moreover, I could not understand why with such design deficiencies Linux distributions persisted in using this dubious tool. Stubborn I guess. Well put that way, I could understand that.

First Installment

So when I come back again, come with me as we grub around looking for Ubuntu. It begins with the standard rant: RTFM! Ok, so that's what we will do. See you soon.



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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Debian doesn't Fail devnet 27 3,214 Apr 6, 2006 6:59 PM
what's the point? yoshu 6 1,797 Apr 5, 2006 9:51 PM
Dual boot Skapare 2 2,260 Mar 31, 2006 6:15 PM

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