January 2009


I am The Cyberwolfe and these are my ramblings. All original content is protected under a Creative Commons license - always ask first.
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Laptop Linux revisited

I got bored the other day and decided to do a full version upgrade on my laptop from Kubuntu Hardy to Intrepid Ibex. The process was simple enough, and didn’t take too long. The results, however, were mildly annoying and just not what I wanted.

Now, not all of the problems I experienced were the result of Kubuntu alone, some of it stems from KDE 4.1 – but then again, the Kubuntu team didn’t bother to implement the modifications that other distros have made to KDE.

When the upgrade was finished, I was unable to resize my windows at all. I can’t for the life of me imagine a situation where that would be a desirable default behavior, but there you have it. I also had to go back through all of my desktop settings to bring things back to the way they were before the upgrade – not unexpected, but it became a bit of an annoyance because it took me over an hour to track down all the settings I found the last time I did this. Again, why was I forced to monkey around with shit like this?

And, of course, I had to learn a new way to hack my wifi into working again, because they changed the way the drivers work. They still don’t work right out of the box, just not in the same way they used to.

On a whim, I checked out the latest release of OpenSuSE – version 11.1 has hit the download page, and right there in the screenshots they show how they have added an option to let your KDE 4.1 desktop have an actual desktop like I’ve been used to for the last couple of decades.


Two and a half hours later I have downloaded and burned the install DVD and am plugging away at the installation. This, as expected, is a smooth and easy process that any moderately intelligent user could get through with just a couple of questions at the hard bits, like disk preparation.

My favorite part of all that? Automatic detection of my Windows partition, and the automatic decision for the system to mount it read+write at boot time. Thank you SuSE!

The best part of all was that Open SuSE 11.1 found and correctly installed my Atheros wifi card automatically – all I had to do was configure the security and off it went.

The worst part – and this is in no way a show-stopper – is that there is no easy install method for my ATI drivers. This is not the OpenSuSE team’s fault, for my laptop apparently has the Chipset That ATI Forgot: the Radeon X1200. I went to the ATI website, and they don’t list the X12xx series anywhere but the Vista section, so I’m guessing they killed it quick and only this model of laptop has it. I can still get the drivers to install with the Hard Way Method (at least, I have found forum posts from a couple of other people with the same machine as me) so I can still get it going. I don’t play games on the laptop anyway, so no big deal.

In the end, OpenSuSE may be just the slightest bit more difficult to install than Kubuntu, but it is worth it for me to get wireless support for an odd chipset and a reg’lar ol’ desktop with icons. Call me picky, but I likes what I likes, and it seems to me that Kubuntu and maybe the KDE team are getting a bit too hipster for my tastes. Y’know, guys, just because Apple does certain things does not mean that it is a good idea to emulate them.

One reply to “Laptop Linux revisited”

  1. Beth Says:

    “Random Thought: 1348. The Black Death, typhus, cholera…those were the days.”
    Do you put those up there periodically or are they from some automatic feed? If you put it up there on purpose, I’d think you just finished reading The Doomsday Book, as did I.
    This has nothing to do with your post, just passing by and that caught my eye.