Tag Archive for: thinkpad

Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Setup

20 Nov 2010
November 20, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 NetbookOver the past year I have developed quite a fondness for Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook edition. Most of my laptops dual-boot it and my wife runs it full time on her little IBM Thinkpad X40. The Netbook edition works great on the 12” or smaller monitors.

Thinkpad x40I briefly tried Ubuntu 10.10. Netbook but very quickly removed it. Let’s just say that I really really didn’t like it and leave it at that.

When I setup a 10.04 Netbook edition there are a few steps I do each and every time. Figured I could take a moment and jot down some of the steps to save me some time next time around.

Firstly, the 10.04 download link can be found here: http://releases.ubuntu.com/10.04/ (courtesy of jacevesl via Twitter). Grab the Netbook live CD iso and burn it to PC or USB – the Universal USB Installer makes creating a bootable USB stick very simple.

I’m not going to cover the install here. Just boot it and run the installer directly or boot in “Live CD” mode, play around a bit and then run the installer application. If dual-booting be sure to pay attention to some of the early steps and don’t smoke your other installed OS!

Once installed, connect to your network and run the Update Manager to get current. Reboot while making the obligatory “this is just like MS Windows” comment… sorry, couldn’t resist.

The default screensaver time is at 5 minutes. This drives me batty. So the next stop is to System (left menu) and then Screensaver. I usually slide the idle timer up to around 60 minutes. Up to you if you want to keep the “Lock screen when screensaver is active” or not.

Now I head back to the Favorites menu and clear out everything except Firefox and Ubuntu Software Center. Just right-click and “remove” to get rid of the others.

For a terminal I like to install Guake Terminal. I just fire up the afore-mentioned Ubuntu Software Center and type it into the search field and then click Install. Once that finishes, head to Accessories and start it up. That’ll put the guake icon up in the top bar. Click to get your terminal and then right-click for Preferences.  In the General tab I like to click “Hide on lose Focus.” Instant F12 access to a nifty little tabbed window terminal. Head to System -> Preferences -> Startup applications and check the box by Guake. Now it’ll autostart as well.

Now I have to clean up a bit. I don’t use the built-in IM and email stuff so the “indicator applet” isn’t necessary and just takes space. Fire up the Ubuntu Software Center again. Click on “installed software” in the left pane and search for indicator-me and indicator-messages (for some reason, sometimes that latter search just has to be “messages”). Lose ‘em both, log out and back in and admire the much more svelt toolbar.

And there we go, the initial steps I do almost every time. The rest depends on how the machine will be used – alternate browsers, Dropbox, etc.

ThinkPad X40 and Ubuntu Netbook 10.04

06 Sep 2010
September 6, 2010

ThinkPadX40When the ThinkPad X40 first came out, 5 or 6 years ago, I had much lust in my heart. I wanted one so badly but it was just priced out of my reach.  A 12” screen and weighing in around 3 lbs. made it seem to be the ultimate portable rig – the keyboard is quite wonderful too.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to grab one on a “trial basis” (I’m quite sure I’ll be purchasing it) and quickly snapped it up. It was running XP Pro well enough but after I did some updating I ran into a series of BSOD issues. Since I have recently been using Ubuntu Netbook Edition I decided that would be a great OS for this little rig.

Installing it, however, gave me some difficulties.

First I tried booting from the USB stick that I had used when I installed Ubuntu Netbook on my Eee. The X40 just wouldn’t do it. After some research I found some anecdotal notes that seem to indicate that the X40 has issues booting from large USB sticks. Unfortunately, I don’t have any 512 MB sticks laying around to test with – and I don’t think the Netbook Edition install would fit on one.

Fortunately, the unit I have came with the UltraBase dock so I was able to try a CD install. I grabbed the image from the Ubuntu downloads page (scroll down to the Netbook Live CD). The boot process would start OK but then the screen would go black. A quick search turned up a blog post that pointed me to a Bugs page with details about the issue and work-arounds. “Workaround A” worked for me, both to boot from the Live CD but also to permanently resolve the issue once I had it installed.

With the video issue solved, I’m pleased to say that Ubuntu Netbook Edition runs great on this little box. All the more impressive as it currently has just 768 MB of RAM – something I hope to address later today once I dig through the old box ‘o ram in the garage…

Battery life is good. With the included extended battery we seem to be headed for the 4 – 5 hour range.

The wife acceptance factor is huge. She loves the idea of having a little and light portable to float around the house with. This morning I found her curled up on the couch with it running through email and Facebook. Later I found it on the kitchen island with some recipes up as she was preparing for this afternoon’s festivities. The12” panel is small but not too small and the native 1024×768 resolution works well for the majority of the main stream web sites we use.

I think I’ll hold off on buying a netbook for home now Smile

Another Play with Puppy Linux

26 Aug 2009
August 26, 2009

Puppy LinuxIt has been almost a year since my last look at Puppy Linux so I dusted off the old ThinkPad 600e laptop (pentium 2!) and had a look at Puppy 4.2.1.

Initially it would hang while booting from CD. After some searching I learned to give the “acpi=force” argument at boot and that got things going.

Once again, I’m blown away by how fast apps run on this old machine when using Puppy. Apps just “pop” onto the screen after launching them! Very cool. Well, the browser (SeaMonkey) didn’t really “pop” though – Once again, I must observe that modern browsers are not the friends of old hardware… but that’s not Puppy’s fault.

First issue I hit was that my PCMCIA controller – and subsequently my WIFI card – wasn’t being detected. Apparently, that’s based on that acpi=force thing. Not good… I tabled the project for a bit while pondering my next move.

While pondering, I installed Puppy into a virtual machine. Never hurts to have a fast loading / low resource *nix laying around, right? For that one I did the hard drive install (instead of the normal boot from CD thing) and noticed the boot sequence was a bit different. In fact, It seemed like the stuff the ThinkPad had been hanging on was no longer an issue.

Tonight I fired up the ThinkPad again and installed Puppy to the hard drive. Rebooted and … sho ‘nuff! I now had a functional PCMCIA WIFI adapter. Let the surfing commence.

Web browsing was great right up until I visited some of the more modern and script-laden sites. Heck, just typing in a twitter update with that little character counter slowed down the whole system.

Here’s the deal: If I needed to setup an old machine to be used for working on documents, spreadsheets and general productivity stuff I think Puppy would be just the ticket. It really brings the old machine back to life. Looking for a machine to primarily browse the web? For that my hardware is just a bit too old. It’ll do the job, but you sure have to exhibit extra patience.

I think I now remember why I had shelved this laptop last spring… but since it is out, maybe I’ll toss Windows 2000 back on it ;-)

Old Windows Computer? Try K-Meleon

23 Nov 2008
November 23, 2008

After a brief foray back to the “Linux for old machines” scene, I have once again found myself running Windows 2000 on my old P2 ThinkPad.  I’d been most recently running antiX Linux on it, but for a variety of vague reasons decided to go back to Win2K once again.

For me and the uses of this machine, it just works better.

One of the issues that I always run into on the older machines, regardless of OS, is browser related. Modern sites need a modern browser and modern browsers on those modern sites can really flog the old hardware. While I like Firefox 3, I just can’t ever be happy with it on a slow machine — it  makes the machine feel even slower.

Good ol’ Internet Explorer 6 is super fast on this thing. But blech… not many “modern” sites will display properly with it (or at all) and it has some other “issues.” That’s not the answer. Firefox 2? Yep, that’s a contender but I always feel like I’m behind the times.

Fortunately, I may have finally found a solid option with a browser named K-Meleon. The project page sums it up best, so I’ll just quote it:

K-Meleon is an extremely fast, customizable, lightweight web browser based on the Gecko layout engine developed by Mozilla which is also used by Firefox. K-Meleon is free, open source software released under the GNU General Public License and is designed specifically for Microsoft Windows (Win32) operating systems.

I’ve only been using it for a few days and I have to agree that is indeed fast and lightweight. Even more importantly, I have yet to find any issues browsing my regular sites (or any site, so far).

K-Meleon is highly configurable — perhaps even to an overwhelming degree. To change settings, be sure to check options under both the Edit and the Tools Menu. For instance, I just found that I could set up mouse accelerators to emulate Firefox 2.0 under the Tools menu.

I’m still tracking down settings to help control when a new tab is opened vs. a new window — in this respect it isn’t at all like Firefox… then again, I also see that the latest beta release mentions that it’ll work better for people who want to open tabs, not windows. I gave the beta a quick shot, but must’ve borked something up as I was still showing the current version, not the beta version. Reckon I can wait for release.

Long story short, if you’re trying to run a browser on old hardware running Windows, definitely give this browser a look. It is fast, lean and quite compatible.