14 Feb 2011, 9:48pm

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  • Flickering Screen with ATI Radeon X1400 and Ubuntu

    EDIT: ATI Radeon X1400 seems to work fine again since Ubuntu 11.04.

    There is another fix to the “well known” issues with the ATI Radeon X1400 and Ubuntu 10.04 to 10.10 besides the one posted about one year ago (see here).
    The pre­vi­ous fix kept the graph­ics card work­ing nor­mally but harmed the over­all oper­at­ing system’s sta­bil­ity, so here is another fix based on dis­abling all 3D fea­tures of the device to get rid of the flick­er­ing screen.

    It’s up to you to choose what you are able to live with­out
    a) The desk­top set­tings panel and “Seg­men­ta­tion fault” errors now and then, or
    b) 3D accel­er­a­tion (does not harm video play­back or any other basic OS functionalities)

    For solu­tion a) see this.
    For b) cre­ate this file: /etc/modprobe.d/radeon-kms.conf — and add fol­low­ing content

    options radeon modeset=0

    Solu­tion found here (in German).

    8 May 2010, 11:25am

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  • Resizing System or Home Partion

    A very con­ve­nient tool for cre­at­ing, mov­ing, and resiz­ing par­ti­tions is GParted. I use it for all my partition-changing-needs — it is really pow­er­ful and yet easy to use! :)

    But it is not pos­si­ble to resize sys­tem rel­e­vant par­ti­tions while the sys­tem is run­ning — makes sense, right? ;)

    But you can down­load GParted as LiveCD ISO file and burn it on a CD. After that, restart your com­puter with the CD in your drive and a small linux will start up directly from CD includ­ing GParted, thus allow­ing you to mod­ify any drive and par­ti­tion there is. :) Do all required changes, click the exit but­ton and you are done. In my case, the com­puter did not reboot auto­mat­i­cally, instead I ended up with a com­mand line inter­face — use the com­mand “sudo reboot” to restart the sys­tem your­self if that happens.

    And just by the way, GParted does also han­dle Win­dows par­ti­tions eas­ily — so there is no need to buy or “get” Par­ti­tion Magic from some­where. But never for­get to backup your data first.

    Yet another hint: GParted works most reli­able if you do one step at a time. So for exam­ple, there are par­ti­tions A and B (A is in front of B) and you wish to give some of the free space in A to B. You need to do fol­low­ing steps: Shrink A, move B left and finally grow B. From my expe­ri­ence, GParted works best if you really do all those steps sep­a­rately, apply each of then, and go for the next one if the last one fin­ished successfully.

    30 Apr 2010, 11:04pm

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  • 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.

    26 Apr 2010, 9:34pm

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  • 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 :)
    28 Feb 2010, 2:05pm

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  • Moving home to it’s own partion (Ubuntu)

    We are going to move all accounts includ­ing their per­sonal data on a dis­tinct par­ti­tion. This rec­om­mended in case of sys­tem fail­ure to not loose any data.
    I have no idea, why the Ubuntu instal­la­tion wiz­ard does not do this by default — it should!

    This post is based on an arti­cle in Ger­man — I will mainly trans­late it, strip some plush and add some stuff to make life eas­ier and to reduce the risk of data loss. But be aware: to per­form any of those fol­low­ing things, you will need super user rights and you should feel some­what comfy with using the com­mand line. And of course, it might be pos­si­ble in cir­cum­stances unfore­seen, that you lose all your per­sonal data — but there are a lot of backup steps included below.

    Here we go: (con­sole input or state­ments are writ­ten in ital­ics)

    1. Prepa­ra­tion
      1. Cre­ate a backup: rsync –avx –progress /home <your backup destination>
      2. If you do not have a free par­ti­tion yet, I rec­om­mend GParted to cre­ate one (use sudo apt-get install gparted). I rec­om­mend ext3 for com­pat­i­bil­ity issues — but if you use Linux only, you can go for ext4 (please change ext3 to ext4 in step 1.6 in case) — make sure your new par­ti­tion is big enough for your home folder! Try to remem­ber the size (get size: du –sh /home) of /home, you can use it later on to ver­ify your new home location.
      3. Get par­tion name sudo fdisk –l /dev/sda — e.g. /dev/sda7 — I will refer to this name as (name)
      4. Copy your cur­rent file sys­tem con­fig­u­ra­tion: sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.new
      5. Get par­tion UUID of new par­ti­tion: sudo blkid — you will find a line about (name) stat­ing a UUID (quite a long hex string), I will refer to it as (uuid) — copy it.
      6. Edit /etc/fstab.new, add a new line at the end as fol­lows (the lay­out should fol­low pre­vi­ous lines — sim­ply copy one and adjust it):
        UUID=(UUID)  /home                ext3         defaults                    0 2
    2. Copy
      1. Sign off / Log out
      2. Switch to con­sole mode by press­ing Ctrl+Alt+F1
      3. Cre­ate a mount point for the new par­ti­tion: sudo mkdir /mnt/tmp
      4. Add par­tion: sudo mount (name) /mnt/tmp
      5. Copy home from the old loca­tion to the new par­ti­tion: sudo rsync –avx –progress /home/ /mnt/tmp
      • Test
          1. Mount copy of home as new home: sudo mount (name) /home
          2. Check size of home folder — should be the same as in step 1.: du –sh /home
          3. Check mount­ing worked: sudo mount| grep /home should print out some­thing like
            (name) on /home
          • Switch
              1. yet another home backup: sudo mv /home /home.bak
              2. cre­ate new home mount point: sudo mkdir /home
              3. cre­ate a backup of fstab: sudo mv /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bak
              4. put updated ver­sion in place: sudo mv /etc/fstab.new /etc/fstab
              5. reboot and you should be done: sudo reboot

              Ok, that’s that. If every­thing works fine, you can delete the backup home sudo rm –rf /home.bak and the fstab backup sudo rm /etc/fstab.bak. Hope you found it use­ful and I did not put in a mis­take or typo. Gimme feed­back! :)