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Where are the Fesity DVD ISOs? On bittorrent only… April 20, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Linux Tips, Windows-Linux Transition.
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Where are the DVDs?? (pic thanks to Andrew Mason)
Where are the DVDs?? (pic thanks to Andrew Mason)

Following up on my prior post, if you’ve looked for a DVD ISO of Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn, you might have noticed that they aren’t mirrored and there doesn’t seem to be a way to download them. At first I thought that they might not have been available yet. Fear not, they are available, but only via bittorrent. You can find the official torrents here:

Note that the Ubuntu servers are overloaded and getting the torrent file (even though it’s only 88KB) will probably be slow for a few more days, as will starting the torrent since the tracker is hosted at Ubuntu.com as well. Also, it appears that there is no DVD ISO for Xubuntu, which probably makes sense since it’s supposed to be a lightweight version.

Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn is Released – Get it today! April 20, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Linux Tips, Windows-Linux Transition.
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7.04 is here!
7.04 is here! (thanks to Dhjiz for the screenshot)


Ubuntu is unique among Linux distributions in that it has a six month release schedule that includes a long-term support edition every few releases. Ubuntu 7.04 “Feisty Fawn” was released today with some good improvements. If you want a full ISO, you can grab it here, and when you do, please be sure to download it via bittorrent.

Why via bittorrent?

The philosophy

A number of universities and firms are nice enough to donate bandwidth and servers to mirror CD images (ISO’s), but none of that comes cheap. Bittorrent, by contrast, relies on users like you to contribute a portion of bandwidth and storage. This happens because when you download you are also uploading. With everyone contributing like that, the costs are no higher than the Internet connection you already have. Moreover, it reflects the spirit of Ubuntu and free/open-source – we’re all part of a community which is made better by each of us participating. Don’t worry about legality. Bittorrent is legal (downloading copyrighted content is not, however!). In fact, major studios like Warner Bros. and Fox are now distributing their movies via bittorrent.

Tips – HOWTO

  • First, you’ll need a bittorrent client (I suggest Azureus)
  • Next, you’ll need to get the right torrent file from Ubuntu.com or official mirrors
  • Bittorrent is a great way to get the latest release a at the highest speeds. When mirrors are slow and overloaded, you’ll find that bittorrent is substantially faster because the more people who are sharing, the faster it gets!
  • After you’ve downloaded, let it run for a while longer, ideally so that your ratio is >1.000 By doing this it means that you’ve uploaded as much as you’ve downloaded
  • Only get the torrent file from Ubuntu.com or one of the official mirrors. That way you ensure that you are you getting the legitimate (and current) version.

Choosing Linux Distrubitions – Tools to help you April 10, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Windows-Linux Transition.
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Join the revolution! (art thanks to “7 Bits of Truth”)
Join the revolution! (art thanks to “7 Bits of Truth”)

For people like me who are making their first foray into the Linux world, the choices of Linux flavors can be staggering. Each flavor, or distribution (distro for short), has its own unique characteristics. Some, like Gentoo are build-as-you-go systems that give power users lots of options and speed. Others, like PCLinuxOS are geared towards people new to the Linux world. There are gazillions of them, as you can see at distrowatch.com. So how do you choose one over the other? I’ve found three good tools to help you choose.

1. Linux Distribution Chooser

The Linux Distribution Chooser at zegeniestudios.net is a great way to get started. It will ask you a series of questions, even in your native language, about what your needs are. Then it will give you detailed recommendations and alternatives.

2. Distro Comparison at polishlinux.org

After you’ve narrowed your choices, you can use this website to compare two distros side-by-side and compare everything from installation to wireless support. Very handy.

3. Live CD’s – Give it a try before you install

Many of the top distros have a “Live CD” that you can download. This is a full version of the operating system that runs off a CD. You just download, burn it, and reboot. It’s a very good way to try out the distro without having to install it. You can find a great list of them at FrozenTech’s LiveCD List. Many Live CD’s can also be used to install the OS. So, if you like it you can just take the next step and install right from the CD.

Compiling and Using Newest Nvidia drivers in Ubuntu – It’s easier than you think April 10, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Linux Tips.

Nvidia control panel (pic thanks to jdk)
Nvidia control panel (pic thanks to jdk)

There are many ways to use open and proprietary graphics drivers for your Nvidia card in Ubuntu, as can be found at the Ubuntu Guide. But, if you want the latest drivers from Nvidia complete with all of their optimizations you’ll need compile and install it. Happily, it’s not too hard.

The following should work equally well on Edgy and Feisty. I’ve tried it on both and it worked for me, but your mileage may vary. Also, remember to back up your files, such as etc/X11/xorg.conf before you embark on this – just in case. Much of this is inspired by RYX’s Compiz install guide, so many thanks go to him. Finally, you might want to print this out to guide you through the process.

Step 1 – Getting the drivers from Nvidia

You can get them from their website. For most people, choose Linux IA32 latest version.

Step 2 – Compilation dependencies

The Nvidia drivers have a shell script to install and compile, but they’ll need some dependencies, which can done by typing the following in the terminal.

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r` build-essential gcc gcc-3.4 xserver-xorg-dev

Step 3 – Clean out the old Nvidia drivers

First, you’ll need to purge the nvidia-glx driver

sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia-glx

Second, you should make sure that the linux-restricted-modules for nvidia are disabled (blacklisted).

sudo gedit /etc/default/linux-restricted-modules-common

Note that it may be linux-restricted-modules on pre-Feisty systems.  You’ll know if it’s not the right one if the file you open is blank.

There, put in the following code, and save.


Step 4 – Reboot

This isn’t probably necessary, but good to make sure the purged stuff isn’t still loaded

Step 5 – Stop the X server (i.e. Gnome) and go to a command line interface. Note that this is/was a bug in the Feisty beta that may prevent you from doing this command.

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

Step 6 – Run the installation script

sudo sh NVIDIA-Linux-x86-1.0-*-pkg1.run

Follow prompts to accept the license, and look for a pre-compiled kernel. Eventually it will ask you to compile a custom one, which is what you want.

After it finishes it will ask you to modify the xorg.conf file. Choose yes.

Step 7 – Finishing up

Hopefully the compile went fine and you’re back at the command line. If so, now we want to add a couple of optimizations to the xorg.conf file, by running the following commands.

sudo nvidia-xconfig --composite
sudo nvidia-xconfig --render-accel
sudo nvidia-xconfig --allow-glx-with-composite
sudo nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals

Step 8 – Reboot and cross your fingers!

If all went well, when you reboot you should see a gray Nvidia logo as Ubuntu finishes loading up. If you see that, give yourself a pat on the back – you did it!

Restoring Windows MBR – fixmbr is your friend April 5, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Windows-Linux Transition.

(pic thanks to articnomad)
(pic thanks to articnomad)

Update: These are instructions if you’re restoring under Windows XP.  If you want to restore with Windows Vista, then see my new post.

I’m going to be setting up a new computer with Ubuntu on it, so I want to take Ubuntu off a machine that’s dual boot with Windows and leave that system to just run Windows. Removing Ubuntu is as easy as deleting its partitions (/, swap, etc.). But then you’re left with GRUB. If you want to uninstall GRUB and have it boot into Windows normally, then you need to do the following:

  1. Boot from the Windows CD
  2. Select R for Recovery Console
  3. Type the number of your Windows install (usually 1) and hit enter
  4. Type in the administrator password
  5. Type fixmbr and hit enter
  6. Answer yes when it asks you to overwrite the MBR
  7. Type exit, which will then reboot the system and everything should work
  8. Enjoy!

Just a reminder of the obvious in light of cronek’s experience – make sure you backup before you do this!  Also, if you have anything more complicated than a dual-boot (XP/Linux) setup, you may want to consider something like Acronis Disk Director.

Changing Permissions of a Partition — it’s easy! April 5, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Windows-Linux Transition.
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(pic thanks to articnomad)
(pic thanks to articnomad)

I ran into the issue of a partition that was read-only, and it was the classic issue of permissions. In this case, I wanted to change the permissions to make it consistent with the rest of my partitions. There are a lot of complex ways of doing this, but this is just for everyday Ubuntu use. Thanks to taurus for the tip.

First, check to see what the ownership is by going to /media and doing a ls -la

Second, do the following, replacing “yourPartition” with the name of the partition (e.g. /sdb1).

sudo chown -R username:username /yourPartition
sudo chmod -R 755 /yourPartition

Finally, check to see if it worked by doing another ls -la

From Recovery Mode to Normal — without rebooting April 5, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Windows-Linux Transition.
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So you’ve booted into Ubuntu using recovery mode (command line) because you had some issue. Now that it’s fixed (unless it explicitly requires a reboot), then why reboot? All you need to do is change the runlevel from runlevel 1 to runlevel 3:

telinit 3

VMware Server 1.0.2 Problems in Feisty – solution April 5, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Linux Tips, Windows-Linux Transition.
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(pic thanks to shaymus022)
(pic thanks to shaymus022)

Installing VMware server means that you need to get your hands dirty in the command line, but it’s not too bad. No need to worry about permissions, dependencies, or kernel compiling.

That being said, VMware server doesn’t want to install without problems on Feisty. The easiest solution (and one that worked for me) is to incorporate the 1.0.8 patch. handband2 nicely outlines the steps in his post. Solution. But, keep in mind that it’s ok for the install to abort. That’s when you apply the patch and the install is restarted. From there on, it’s just as normal.

Running Windows in Ubuntu April 4, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Windows-Linux Transition.
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As try to make Ubuntu my main OS, I have found a few cases where I haven’t yet found a suitable Linux alternative to a Windows app. In this case, it’s EndNote, which I use for my research. Part of the reason I use it is because it integrates well with library and article databases. But, to use the cite-as-you-write functionality, it needs to integrate with Microsoft Word.

Option 1: Wine
Wine lets you run certain Windows apps directly in Ubuntu by using alternative versions of Windows dll’s. There’s also a commercial version called CrossOver. Both are notoriously finicky. I did manage to get Word and Endnote running, but they can’t integrate.

Option 2: KVM
New in Ubuntu Feisty 7.04 is Kernel Virtualization, called KVM. Given that Feisty is still in beta, it’s no wonder that it seems a bit flaky. There’s serious potential with this solution. It’s open source and uses the hardware virtualization technology built into most dual and quad core processors. But a quick attempt at getting it running didn’t work – the installer dies when it tries to boot windows. Hopefully soon this will work. Any ideas – let me know.

Option 3: VMware Server
VMware is proprietary and can be a resource hog, but it is a very solid product. It has never let me down. And, it’s free! Until KVM is more mature (or I know what the heck I’m doing with it), I’ll be sticking with VMware.

Starting and Stopping Gnome — You don’t need to reboot! April 4, 2007

Posted by amazingrando in Linux Tips.
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Everyone tells me that Ubuntu, like other *NIX operating systems are great because you rarely need to reboot. Today I figured out just how true that is. I was updating the Nvidia driver and I needed to stop the X server, in this case Ubuntu’s Gnome Desktop (GDM). By doing this the whole system is still running, but the window manager is shutdown and you’re just in a command line. After saving any open files, you can do this as easily as running the following command:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

Once you’re done you can start it back up again by doing almost the same command:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start

Doing the latter will bring up Ubuntu’s window environment, the Gnome desktop, and you’ll be back to where you were. All of this without having to reboot!