Archive for the 'ubuntu' Category

Virtual Jaunty Jackalope in Widescreen, Technicolour

The latest-as-of-writing release of Ubuntu, Jaunty Jackalope, installs quite straightforwardly under Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 (SP1) but the desktop defaults to a screen resolution of 800×600, with no obvious way of switching up to something more.. useful. Additionally, existing guides to making higher resolution modes available refer to previous versions of Ubuntu and seemed not to work.

Happily, however, someone has taken the time to work out, and share, the settings necessary to properly configure the display adapter and monitor emulated by Virtual PC. Integrating these with the xorg.conf generated by Ubuntu’s installer, we end up with something along the lines of the following:

Section "Device"
    Identifier    "Configured Video Device"
    Driver "s3"
    BusID "0:8:0"
    BoardName "86c764/765"
EndSection

Section "Monitor"
    Option "CalcAlgorithm" "CheckDesktopGeometry"
    Identifier    "Configured Monitor"
    HorizSync 30-95
    VertRefresh 50-75
    UseModes "Modes[0]"
EndSection

Section "Modes"
    Identifier "Modes[0]"
    Modeline "1280x800" 60.50 1280 1296 1360 1472 800 802 804 822
EndSection

Section "Screen"
    Identifier    "Default Screen"
    Monitor        "Configured Monitor"
    Device        "Configured Video Device"
    DefaultDepth 16
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth 16
        Modes "1280x800" "1280x1024" "1024x768" "800x600"
    EndSubSection
EndSection

(xorg.conf can be opened for editing via a Terminal window – ‘Applications‘ > ‘Accessories‘ > ‘Terminal‘ – as follows:
sudo pico /etc/X11/xorg.conf [Enter/Return])

After saving the changes to xorg.conf and rebooting the virtual PC, the higher resolution modes are available via the ‘System‘ > ‘Preferences‘ > ‘Display‘ menu option.

Feisty Fawn and the Waved Dead Chicken

Given the positive experience of the, erm, dead chicken, I had to try out Feisty Fawn on the Acer.

Since the Acer’s CPU is (notionally) 64-bit, I tried my luck, first, with the 64-bit version of the distro. Somewhat to my surprise, this worked, virtually perfectly, out-of-the-box. But the (apparent) absence of a 64-bit version of Skype fairly quickly had me switching (downgrading?) to the 32-bit build.

Feisty Fawn ships with an out-of-the-box option to tart spruce up the desktop with 3D visual effects, but this would not work, on the Acer, without installing the restricted graphics drivers and XGL and using the latter to configure a login session.

I hit upon this more or less by accident whilst using this guide to configuring Beryl. Having installed the bits, configured the login session and then used it to log into the system, I found I was able to enable the built-in Desktop Effects from the system’s Preferences menu, and thereafter never felt the need to bother with Beryl.

A few weeks in, and I’ve not noticed any effect (good or bad) on system stability. From time to time, three of the four workspaces which were available when the system was installed disappear. There are various guides out there to restore the additional workspaces and, thereby, the cube, but coming from the worlds of uni-workspaced Windows and OS X, this goes unnoticed, most of the time.

By contrast, the effect of the appallingly-named “Wobbly Windows” can linger with one even after logging off: coming to Ubuntu from Windows, the effect is sufficiently subtle not to distract; but move from Ubuntu to Windows and its absence can seem (at least for a short time) jarring.

Suddenly, Windows Vista’s windows appear a bit old-fashioned and, well, fragile..


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