Wish I Could Do That In Linux

i-a4af6612f71a071eefb29bd2dcab3c53-ubuntux.pngBack in April, I installed Ubuntu Linux on my oldish Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop, bought in early 2005. Ubuntu’s rapid boot process and snappy action has made it my favourite operating system (while I continue to run Win XP and Mac OS on other machines). The sense of non-commercialism is also nice. But of course I have some problems. They may be things that are fully possible to do in Ubuntu, though too complicated for me to accomplish at my current level of ignorance; or semi-possible to do in Ubuntu through an ugly kludge that’s not worth it; or they may simply be impossible to do in Ubuntu. Two major ones are actually glitches that appeared with the latest major update, Gutsy Gibbon.

So I’ll review my old list: things I wish I could do in Linux.

  • NEW. Gutsy killed the sound.

  • NEW. Get Ubuntu to work reliably with the laptop’s power management mode. The Feisty version fixed this. Then Gutsy introduced a new power management glitch: when I power up after suspend, the machine wakes up but then immediately and spontaneously powers down.
  • Communicate with my Pocket PC handheld computer over a USB cable.
  • Communicate with my Garmin GPS navigator over a USB cable.
  • Access and edit a Pocket Query geocaching database file.
  • Use a web page as desktop wallpaper (“Active Desktop” in Windowese)
  • Fixed? Share the laptop’s touch pad between user accounts. Currently it only works for the first person who logs onto the machine! (I think Gutsy fixed this. Not sure.)
  • Fixed? Connect to a protected wireless access point whose password I have. The situation nevers occurs any more since I unprotected my router.
  • Fixed! Access the contents of my hard disk’s NTFS partition (where WinXP resides).

If you happen to know any easy fixes for these problems, don’t be afraid to say so.

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Comments

  1. #1 James W.
    January 22, 2008

    The wireless issue should be fixed in both Gutsy and Feisty as I’ve been using Feisty to connect to various protected networks (of varying protections) since Feisty came out without any issues. Before then, I had manually scripted wpa_supplicant for my various networks. I cannot comment fully on Gutsy although its use should not differ since the NetworkManager hasn’t been through any major updates between Gutsy and Feisty.

    The power issue shouldn’t be an issue really, this was greatly updated in Feisty (I _never_ got it working in Edgy, Dapper, or Debian sid which Edgy/Feisty are based on). Using Gnome’s built-in hibernate button may not work but you might be able to manually script something to work. Right before Feisty came out, I managed to sort of get S2suspend working bu ultimately gave up. All-in-all, there should be a logfile detailing the failure.

    I haven’t updated to Gutsy yet so I can’t comment on the sound since we have the same sound controller however, I’ve never once had an issue with the AC97-based Intel chip in my Dell 700m or Dell 600m.

  2. #2 Hans Persson
    January 22, 2008

    NEW. Gutsy killed the sound.

    On one of the 4-5 computers I run Gutsy on, sound now has problems. I haven’t even tried to figure out what the problem is.

    NEW. Get Ubuntu to work reliably with the laptop’s power management mode. The Feisty version fixed this. Then Gutsy introduced a new power management glitch: when I power up after suspend, the machine wakes up but then immediately and spontaneously powers down.

    My work laptop works much better with power management under Gutsy than it did under Feisty. With Feisty, it would hang every fifth or tenth waking, but I don’t think it has ever done that with Gutsy.

    Communicate with my Pocket PC handheld computer over a USB cable.

    Doesn’t work for me either. Stupid M$ stuff.

    Communicate with my Garmin GPS navigator over a USB cable.

    Works flawlessly for me, and has done so in all Ubuntu flavours.

    To load a single .loc file:
    gpsbabel -i geo -f geocaching.loc -o garmin -F /dev/ttyUSB0

    To load a .gpx file:
    gpsbabel -i gpx -f geocaching.gpx -o garmin -F /dev/ttyUSB0

    Access and edit a Pocket Query geocaching database file.

    I’m not sure if I’ve tried to actually edit them, but I think they are plain text files (or, well, XML data). Removing stuff should be straight-forward in gedit or whatever text editor you feel comfortable with (and which isn’t a word processor).

    To create .gpx files, I’ve used GeoToad.

    Use a web page as desktop wallpaper (“Active Desktop” in Windowese)

    I don’t even know what this is or why one would want it, so I can’t help you here.

  3. #3 David K
    January 22, 2008

    Many distributions are switching the the new PulseAudio architecture. I think it will be default in the next Ubuntu release too. Here’s how to install and configure it https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PulseAudio
    I’ve only been using PulseAudio for a few months, but to me it feels like they’re (finally) on the right path. For me it works really good (running Fedora here, not Ubuntu, though).

    According to the Ubuntu pages on the Dell Inspiron 6000 hibernate/suspend should work properly. I guess the breakage is because of glitches in the upgrade path. Probably explains the audio problems too. You’d probably have to look at some logs in order to be able to fix the problem.

    Did you try these instructions for SynCE?
    http://www.synce.org/moin/SynceWithUbuntu

    Did you try GPSBabel for your GPS needs?
    http://www.gpsbabel.org/
    (I have no Pocket PC, nor a GPS device).

    The webpage-desktop-wallpaper-thingy is probably best accomplished with some sort of desktop widget. Depends on what kind of functionality you want from it though. I actually used Active Desktop on Windows 95 back in the days, but I can’t remember for what purpose really. I do remember it crashed explorer a lot which made me stop using it eventually.

    NetworkManager has been capable of handling WEP and WPA (with wpa-supplicant) for quite a long time now. If you aren’t using it, try it out (it should be default, though).

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    January 22, 2008

    Correct hibernation may depend on proper setup of the swap partition on your hard drive. You might try this:

    http://blog.tmro.net/2007/07/my-dell-inspiron-6400-running-ubuntu.html

    Also, check out this guy, Dell laptop guru:

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HassanElJacifi

  5. #5 SMC
    January 22, 2008

    I was also going to comment on the Garmin GPS thing – what kind of Garmin GPS is it? I gather there are a few different interfaces.

    Mine is an older Garmin eTrex Legend with a serial connector which I connect to through a serial-to-USB cable, so I use the kind of command line mentioned above ( /dev/ttyUSB0 ) but I know some of the newer ones have a direct USB connection. From what I understand, those should also work, but there’ll be a slightly different command.

    If you want to read from it continuously (e.g. for gpsdrive or similar uses) you’ll want to look into the gpsd daemon.

  6. #6 Hans Persson
    January 23, 2008

    My Garmin GPS is a GPSmap 60CS. It has a USB connection, but it magically appears as a serial port in Ubuntu when I connect a regular USB cable to it.

  7. #7 buddy jesus
    January 24, 2008

    Regarding the Active Desktop features: Have you tried Prism?

    http://labs.mozilla.com/2007/10/prism/

  8. #8 Aaron
    February 3, 2008

    To fix the sound it might be as easy as:

    sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-generic

    But it also might not.

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