Flickering Screen After Upgrade to Kubuntu 10.04

First of all, I was amazed how smoothly the upgrade went. (K)Ubuntu and I guess other distributions as well have gone quite a far way to become platforms for everybody — with a lot of software but even more tools, helpers and automatic background services — like the nice upgrade service.

There was only one problem I ran into and I want to share the solution.

I am running Kubuntu 10.04 (just upgraded today) on a Lenovo IBM ThinkPad R60 (Yes, one of those with both brands on them ;)) with an ATI Radeon X1400 graphics device. But since upgraded, my display started flickering — not permanently but unbearable.

The solution that worked for me (at least partially — see below — and this is of cause depending on the graphics device type) was to install the proprietary ATI drivers. I know, it is not a good solution, I do not like to use them neither and if anyone out there is reading this with a better solution in mind, let me know it!! 🙂
Edit 2011-02-14: Added a new post with an additional, alternative solution here.

So what you need to do is  to get your favorite package management tool (e.g. Synaptic or KPackageKit) — just hit Alt+F2 and type “package” and pick KPackageKit from the list (it will ask you for the super user password). Then, search for “fglrx”. In KPackageKit, you will find a result titled “Video driver for the ATI graphics accelerator”, and something below the title like “fglrx – 2:8.723.1-0ubuntu3” but the version number should not matter. Click the arrow to the right, hit “Apply” and after rebooting, everything should perfectly without any configuration.

Good luck. 😉

Problems noticed so far: The driver causes “Segmentation Fault” error messages, e.g. when trying to open up the display settings. That’s ugly, I know. But you can read in several forum and blog posts, that the support for the former nicely working driver for the ATI X1400 has been discontinued since 10.04, hence, it’s just good luck that the fglrx works somehow — good to know *after* upgrading, right. But still, the flickering was unbearable for me, thus, I accept the issues for now. I will keep my eyes peeled hoping for a proper solution in the future.

Change hotkey of Kubuntu’s Quick Launch Tool KRunner

First of all: I love those quick launch tools aka keystroke launchers, they are real time savers — everyone should have one!

[For those without a glue what a keystroke launcher is:] It is THE tool for launching any kind of software or even opening documents. Instead of moving your mouse to you applications menu, click it, search the program, move the mouse there, maybe pick a sub-folder, move mouse again and finally click — unless you accidentally moved a little but to far and the menu close again, completely. 🙁 But it is easy to put an end to this (as described below). Instead of doing all that clicking, you hit a special key combination, by default [Alt] and [Space], this will make a small input box show up, now, you only enter the first letters of the program — e.g. “f” will do after a few uses to start Firefox (the program learned that you use it a lot). It might save only a few seconds each time, but the sum up and, hey, it is very convenient, too!

So here is what you need to do:
Mac OS: It is already built-in — Just hit Alt+Space and type the name of the program you want to start (or files or whatever).
Windows: Get/install Launchy and use it as explained above.
Kubuntu: built-in as well, BUUUT you have to hit Alt+F2 instead.

And there it is, something that kept annoying me about Kubuntu for quite a bit. I was hoping to get used to it but for what reason? Alt+F2 is really not handy compared to Alt+Space.
Finally, based on this old forum post and a few adjustments to fit nowadays Kubuntu, all you need to do is this:

  1. Go to “Settings” -> “Keyboard and mouse”
  2. Select “Global Keyboard Shortcuts”
  3. Pick from the select box “KDE component” at the top “Run Command Interface”
  4. Now, you can access “Run Command” — Change it to whatever you like 🙂