Notes On A Clean Ubuntu (Dapper Drake) Install on a Gateway Laptop

My work is virtually exclusively in my windows partition on my laptop (a Gateway MX3215) these days, so I can afford to take some risks with my linux partition.  It had been, previously, a Breezy Badger install that had been upgraded to Dapper; but I wanted to change something fundamental — I wanted to sidegrade the filesystem from ReiserFS to Ext3FS (at this point fans of those two filesystems are feeling their blood pressure increase at my counting them as equals) — something one can’t do without a total reinstall, cause the filesystem underlies everything…  So  I downloaded the ubuntu “Dapper Drake” release live/installer CD and went at it.
Here are the tweaks I needed to do to make things happy hardwarewise:

  • builtin wifi — this has often messed me up, but I’ve got the deal now — you need to blacklist the sketchy open-source “bcm43xx” driver, which tries to run it.  Add the line “blacklist bcm43xx” to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.
  • to replace that, I installed the “ndiswrapper” package and dug around in the windows system-restore partition to find the precise driver that was intended to run it on Windows: bcmwl5a.inf.   I did “ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5a.inf” and then “ndiswrapper -m” to make the magic happen.  (note that ethernet networking Just Worked and I used it to get this far.)
  • I edited /etc/X11/xorg.conf and added a line to the Synaptics section, setting “MaxTapTime” to “0” so I don’t keep accidentally selecting things by tapping the touchpad.
  • I also edited /etc/X11/xorg.conf to add “1280×768” to all the lists of resolutions.
  • I did the stupid GNOME sound dance.

You know, simple stuff everyone doesn’t mind doing, right?  Ah well.

I’ve been following with interest the Mark Pilgrim Apple->Free Software Switch.  Time for more bullet points!

  • Goodbye Apple
  • When The Bough Breaks (what drove him over the edge)
  • interlude: some stuff from Daring Fireball I can’t find in 10 seconds so who cares
  • Essentials 2006 where he tries and mostly but not entirely succeeds in finding acceptable or superior replacements for his favorite Mac apps.  Quite amusing in parts.

It’s all quite inspiring.  All via teh Michael.
I just thought I’d get the facts out there on the net so if someone googles around maybe they can find what they need.

5 thoughts on “Notes On A Clean Ubuntu (Dapper Drake) Install on a Gateway Laptop”

  1. Mark’s Goodbye Apple article sums up my feelings for Apple products very well.

    I’m really loving Ubuntu these days. I didn’t have to do the Gnome Music Dance with Dapper, I’m surprised you did.

  2. Thanks for this, Ed – I’m considering putting Ubuntu on a couple machines, and it’s good to have some heads-up on the wifi. I’ve been a Fedora man myself up till now. I ran Debian for a while, but was frustrated by the long delay between stable releases and new software. Maybe I can come home again (snif)

  3. No problem, man. As Mark Pilgrim says, Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning “can’t install Debian.” :) Glad to help!

    I think I had Debian/Sarge on a machine fairly recently, and it doesn’t totally suck anymore, but to me Ubuntu still wins out.

    I had a very brief flirtation with Fedora last year, and I liked it a lot, but Ubuntu still lured me back. :)

  4. Incidentally, Ed, I downloaded the live cd to find that it’s GNOME by default, and I’ve been running KDE lately. HAs GNOME improved sufficiently that it’s par with KDE, or do I have to download another iso?

  5. jbm,

    Gnome is incredibly less flaky than it once was, and it’s gone through a lot of usability testing sponsored by Sun, I believe. It doesn’t suck, as far as I’m concerned.

    However, there is an alternative version of Ubuntu, a sister distribution called Kubuntu, which installs all KDE goodies by default and not the GNOME stuff. And it’s pretty cool. I’ve been tempted to move to it, because visually it rocks. But I’m used to the gnome and don’t want to waste time relearning a lot of stuff right now.

    But Kubuntu isn’t some hack or ripoff or derivative, it’s really just an alternative default install of Ubuntu. I’d grab it if you dig the KDE.

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