December 17, 2008
Switching to Ubuntu from FedoraSo last week I broke my Fedora 8 box. It was a shame really, there was no reason for my machine to break. There was one problem with the video card, a kernel panic and reboot. That was the first time since I replaced the power supply that went bad that the machine had any trouble. Since the new version of Fedora, Fedora 10, has come out I thought I would take this chance to upgrade.
I usually have pretty good luck doing upgrades with linux, so I didn't think much about it this time. Unfortunately, that was a mistake. For some reason Fedora 10 ships with a version of Xorg that isn't compatible with the binary driver from AMD for my HD2400 card. It wasn't even worth trying to keep using the system with Vesa, radeon, or radeonhd drivers because it was just terribly slow. I thought this wouldn't be a huge problem, because I can fall back onto the built in Intel 3100 graphics chip. It is a kind of sucky chip, but works. It also has a great open source driver that supports 3d, and plays video well enough for me to get by with until AMD releases drivers that work with the new Xorg server.
Unfortunately, for some reason, there was a bug with the Intel driver on Fedora 10 or (my install of it), and I couldn't get that to work. At that point it looked like things were going from bad to worse, so I decided to back up all my data. I had to pick up another external drive, but after about 24 hours of copying in single user mode everything from /home and /data (the two places where I keep most of my data - I forgot to get /var though, which lost me my Amarok library stat data via the mysql DBs it uses!) and then installed Fedora 9.
Fedora 9 didn't give me any joy either.
So now I'm getting frustrated. I haven't watched the Daily Show for 4 days now. And this useless expensive hunk of metal is laughing at me from across the room. So I decided I would try to install Windows on it, just to see what life in the world of well-supported video card drivers is like. I had a copy of Windows XP that I bought a while ago, and that installed but it sucked. I had to do completely remove all linux partitions from the machine to get it to even recognize the hard drives. And it would only install on one of the hard drives. Also, no driver support off the default image. I had to download and install a whole bunch of drivers for the Gigabyte ga-g33m-s2h motherboard that I have, and then things seemed ok. I tried to do a windows update, but it started giving me a lot of grief about "Windows Genuine Advantage" and I decided that I didn't need all that trouble (it was a legal student copy that I bought a while back, I have used it to install on another machine whose recovery disk I lost, etc.) so I gave up on windows.
So I decided I would take a look at Ubuntu. I've heard good things about Ubuntu so I thought I would give that a try. I installed the regular desktop edition and everything went well with that. It installed very easily actually, and picked up my GMA3100 video card fine (I didn't try with the HD2400 card) and it performed well: I could play video well and have desktop effects turned on. I kind of missed the yum functionality of Fedora, but Ubuntu has apt-get which is just as good. More or less.
The only problem is that Ubuntu does not have any LVM support with the normal installer. So I initially set things up on sda to see how it went, and it went well. Then I decided that I would stick with Ubuntu for a while to see how things go, but if I am going to do that, I really want to use LVM so I can bond the 2 internal 500gig drives together into a unified /home directory. I also want to be able to put other installs at a separate logical volume so next time I upgrade things will go so crazy.
Anyway, here is an excellent guide to setting up LVMs on Ubuntu. The Fedora installer for LVM stuff is nicer - in graphical mode, I didn't try their text version - and I will miss some of the other neat stuff about Fedora (pulse audio probably, maybe some other stuff.) So far though, I have had really good luck with Ubuntu and getting it running as I like. It will take another day or two to re-copy the data, and then probably another week or two while I try to find out everything I missed (lost the MySQL database for Amarok so my music library stats are all gone) - I need to set up a webserver and stuff, I just set up Azureus (Vuze now?) with RSS feed eating capability for automatic TV downloading, and stuff like that.
Ubuntu is looking pretty good though.
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