Ubuntu – Gutsy 7.10 – First Impressions and Getting Set-Up

Well, Gutsy 7.10 has arrived, so a new installation beckoned!

Created a new partition on my hard drive, inserted the desktop CD and rebooted. Waited for the live cd desktop and clicked on install. Installation was easy (as per usual) and used manual partitioning to select my new partition and set it as “/”. Due to multi-booting I don’t bother with separate home or data partitions, just do it all in one place. Took what seemed to be ages to get past the “Apt – scanning mirrors” stage, but after walking away and having a coffee, the install finished and I could reboot. Oh, I clicked on the Advanced button on the partitioning tab to set grub to install on the partition, so that I did not overwrite my existing mbr setup. I’ll sort that later when i decide to move over to Gutsy full time.

So what did Gutsy have to offer?

DESKTOP & EYE CANDY

First off what the proprietary ATI driver ( I have an ATI 9550 card). This installed fine and after reboot I tried the “Normal” setting for Desktop effects (right click on desktop, choose change background, then pick the tab for Desktop Effects. Gutsy complained about Composite not being enabled. Never mind, I am not all that bothered about eye candy just yet. After a bit of fishing around, I figured out that I needed to install xserver-xgl (just as with beryl). This allowed compiz-fusion to function. However, and quite crazily, there is no settings manager installed by default. I had to go into the repos and find compizconfig-settings-manager and emerald in order to be able to tweak things. Missing is the 3d-window and I am yet to find out how to make the cube smaller. Some problems also with “Always On Top” for XMMS. Lost windows borders at one point so needed to go into settings, choose Windows Decorations and type emerald in the command box. (emerald needs to be installed!)

Moved the top panel down to the bottom and shifted icons around a bit, before deleting top panel. Added Gedit, Terminal, Run Application, Weather, Connect to Server, Home Directory and Main Menu to bottom panel, removing the big Main Menu (Apps, Places, System), and Help. Just my preference. More to come later after a few applications get installed.

HARDWARE

Opened up a terminal and typed “dmesg”. Hooray, the kernel finally recognises my TV card, an ASUS P7131 Dual Analog/Digital tuner.

Went to do printer install, I have a Brother DCP-540CN. Looked like it installed fine from default settings, but on sending a page to print, the printer did everything right except print. So I followed my own howto here, updating the drivers as I went, and all printer and scanner functions worked as before. get a faded printer icon in the tray, even though no documents require printing.

Even though I gave gutsy all my UK info, it still provided me with a US keyboard in Gnome (in xorg it was OK, so Gnome complained), so had to change this.

CONNECTIVITY

Tested out vncviewer ( I use this to access the GUI on my server) No problems, but we have a new password box with a place for user as well as password, even though I only need password with my set-up.

BROWSER

Organised Firefox – small icons, history, new tab to menu bar, transferred bookmarks from old system. Set single click select for address bar (type about:config then filter for this “browser.urlbar.clickSelectsAll” and double click to change to true), moved bookmarks toolbar up to main toolbar and shortened descriptions. Also installed my favourtie set of extensions: Firefly (FTP), Linkification, Adblock, Download Status Bar, PDF Download, Flashgot.

CODECS & PROPRIETARY APPS

Next up Automatix – with care, but really just the easiest way to install Skype (all my family use skype!), acrobat reader, sun java, google earth (such fun) all the required codecs for media playback, fonts, archiving support, DVD support, mplayer etc. To get mplayer working properly required some changes to xorg.conf and mplayer preferences. Xorg needed some overlay info in the Device section:

Option “VideoOverlay” “on”
Option “OpenGLOverlay” “off”

(this is needed because of the ATI card, allows correct aspect ratio and full screen for mplayer, and tvtime requires this setting too)

and in mplayer preferences, I moved the video setting from xv to x11, and selected the FFmpeg audio and video codec families. I also edited the mplayer config file to introduce a cache and interlace filter. Cache helps digital tv run without any jerking and interlace and deblocking filters tidy up any channels and/or movies that need it. My config looks like this:

# Write your default config options here!
menu = yes
ontop=yes
vop=pp=0x20077
cache=8192
framedrop=1

TV

Now to get the TV up and running. Installed tvtime (sudo apt-get install tvtime), and copied channels.conf and config over from the .mplayer directory on my old system. Created icons from my scripts directory (on static non-OS partition) for watching, recording and watching and recording TV with mplayer (scripts for this on ubuntuforums here and here)

ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS

List of additional programs installed:

ProjectX (java) – for converting .ts tv recordings to DVD compliant mpgs (http://dfn.dl.sourceforge.net/sourceforge/project-x/ProjectX_Source_eng_0.90.4.00.zip)

HJSplit (java) – for splitting and joining large files (http://www.freebyte.com/download/hjsplit/hjsplit_g.jar)

Tesseract (cli) – for OCR of tiff files scanned in by Xsane (here)

K3B – OK, it’s KDE, but simply the best CDR/DVD burning program I have found (repos)

Limewire (java) – Frostwire just doesn’t seem to like me (http://www9.limewire.com/download/LimeWireLinux.deb)

XMMS – Can’t get with the fancy players (repos)

VirtualBox – I’m going to give the OSE version a go (repos). I did, but seamless is not so clever, and no usb support, so moving over to the binary with EULA. (download from here). Nope, same problems with qt3 look. You have to download qt3-qtconfig, run qtconfig and change font size to 10, and look to “Windows”. Seamless still not working – meaning the taskbar doesn’t sit above the ubuntu panel, it sits on top of it.

Truecrypt – file encrypter

More repos installs:

D4X – file downloader
EasyTag – mp3tagger and renamer
OK, we are slowly getting there, and no complaints from Gutsy yet! Time to sort out local networking. Install nfs client, and edit fstab to create the nfs shares sitting on the server. This all went without a hitch, although didn’t load the nfs shares on boot first time around, or after that. Grr. Found the reason why! This was due to my /etc/network/interfaces settings, which were set up, as in my Edgy install to create a network bridge and tap interfaces for virtualbox. This is a shame as it worked brilliantly in Edgy.

I’ll have to do some scripting to get the tap interfaces up and running after boot has finished. Here is the resultant script, slows down the boot process after login a bit but gets the job done.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

#! /bin/bash
#network interfaces conversion script
#changes interfaces file after boot, restarts networking then resets interfaces file

#copies the bridge and tap interfaces file to interfaces
cp /etc/network/interfaces.tap /etc/network/interfaces
#restarts networking to enable bridge and taps
/etc/init.d/networking restart
#reinstates original interfaces file
cp /etc/network/interfaces.static /etc/network/interfaces

exit
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Some explanation, I placed a reference to the script in /etc/rc.local, so that it ran after everything else booted up and loaded. I created two additional files in /etc/network – interface.static (simple static IP setup) and interface.tap (complex bridging and tap interface creation). The script copies over the tap interfaces file, restarts the network and then reinstates the simple interfaces file (ready for the next reboot). Not pretty, but it works. Advice on a better solution is always welcome. Had a look at creating dynamic tap interfaces, but this required a bridge to be in place, so would probably have to do what I have done anyway.

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