These may be the first (and last) vacations I’m bringing the laptop along and happily connected for a few hours a day, so I committed to do something unusual like planning migrating every WindowsXP laptop back home (3 of them) to Ubuntu. Heck, if I get lucky and manage to sell one of them I’m considering buying a MacBookPro to replace it. I’ve been using Ubuntu for a while now on the home server (or should I say “I’m using Debian” since I’m not using X?) and I’m pretty satisfied with it (so far).
Since the UbuntuWiki doesn’t mention a word about the Toshiba Tecra M1 I normally use for work, I’ve started this as a repository for the steps I’ve plunged into. This is a draft of the contents I’m about to submit there too. Work in progress. A lot of dumb theories founded by several years of absolutely no contact with Linux on the desktop front.
So here’s what I did.
- Booted with the install/live CD to live environment.
- Clicked the install button (duh)
- Previous WindowsXP NTFS partitions were recognized. Easily resized one of these to accomodate the primary Ext3 partition for Ubuntu and some extra space for the swap partition (no frills, except a later disk check by WindowsXP, the next time it booted). I’ve had (and heard about) a few fdisk and Partition Manager pains in the past, but the way this process was accomplished was just brilliant. NTFS partitions are accessible on Ubuntu, but they’ll be read-only.
- APT repositories were updated according to miscelaneous sources, namely freecontrib.org and those mentioned in the UbuntuGuide, including some for Picasa or delicacies like Gaim 2.0 beta 3.
- Performed an apt-get dist-upgrade and installed a couple more packages which weren’t included in the initial setup (mostly related to software development – gcc, make et al. but also some stuff which isn’t included due to licensing issues – audio and video codecs). In my humble opinion, there oughta be a decent way to turn the initial instalation into something more complete instead of sticking only to the packages on the CD.
- Installed toshset just for kicks and to notice most of these controls don’t work, don’t (always) work as expected (the fan control, for instance) or work like a charm (enabling and disabling Bluetooth). It seems there are still a bunch of Toshiba Linux Utilities to dig into, but I sticked (for now) to install FnFx to have full-access to Fn key combos. Out of those pre-configured (and bound to the usual functions), mute, hibernate, display lock, LCD/CRT switching work as expected. The power-saving (Fn+F2) combo fires up a tooltip with the current power scheme status. The sleep button works once you enable “suspend” on the Power Management configuration. The trackpad control combo does nothing, just like the brightness controls (altough the current LCD brightness is shown when FnFx is fired up with extreme verbosity). The wireless key enables and disables the laptop built-in Bluetooth. The first laptop soft-key launches Evolution (the default email application) and this seems like it’s part of the initial Ubuntu configuration. It may assume you have extra keys and those areprobably soft-keys for application launching.
- Video card is detected and X configuration matches the maximum panel resolution (not sure about the color depth).
- Sound card is well configured but the output sounds a little too low (re-check later)
- Trackpad works as expected, except for the horizontal scroll zone.
- It looks like most power management features (once “suspend” is enabled on the Power Management configuration – fire up gconf-editor, choose apps/gnome-powermanager and check the can_suspend option) work like a charm. The CPU frequency monitor also shows that the Centrino processor stays most of the time at 600Mhz (while I’m typing this, for instance) but quickly steps up into the maximum 1.4Ghz once needed – I’m getting some 4 hours worth of autonomy with a brand new battery as we speak. CPU stepping is seamless. No visible hickups as I’ve experienced in WindowsXP.
- On-board wireless network adapter (centrino) works out-of-the box (via the IPW2100 driver), but I’ve yet to figure a way to easily configure some wi-fi setups without using iwconfig (but this is a Gnome annoyance – setting an ad-hoc connection, for instance – how hard it would be to add a few combo-boxes to configure this)
- Bluetooth works, but it is disabled by default. You’ll have to install FnFx and use the Fn-F8 key combo to turn it on (have a peek at /var/log/messages to make sure it came up). However, there are still a few packages that need to be installed to get it to play nice (obex-server, for instance). Further configuration must be done via hciconfig and sdptool. Again, this may be only Gnome’s fault. I don’t know how they’re going to get desktop share if these details keep getting forgotten.
- The built-in SD card reader is not recognized, but this is merely a Toshiba issue (they’re not releasing the specs)
- Didn’t test the internal modem (not planning using it for the next few centuries), just like the firewire, parallel or IrDa ports (which eventually I’ll try during the process of detailing, perhaps repeating, this installation)
As a side note, the Vodafone Mobile Connect Card (made by Option) is readily recognized as an UMTS card in the device configuration. This may also be valid for other cards by other manufacturers/mobile operators. And most folks working with the default configurations (default settings, SIM cards bundled with only one APN, etc) will be happy to know it is damn easy to configure a dialup connection. Other people bound to corporate APN will die looking for a place where to stick the AT+CGDCONT configuration strings. The Gnome-PPP package may be the solution here, since it uses WvDial as backend (AT commands are welcome). Keep an eye out for UMTSmon, meanwhile. Once it reaches adulthood, it will give you a little more control over these cards. Meanwhile, it’s better to keep a AT command reference card handy.