Ubuntu Hardy Heron – Things a new user shouldn’t have to mess with

There are still a few problems with Hardy Heron and some of the applications that are provided.

1. Even after installing the restricted Nvidia legacy drivers for the TNT2, 1024×768 was not an option in System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution. Further, only 60Hz was available for the refresh rate. The legacy drivers got me 800×600 though.

In the Monitor section of /etc/X11/xorg.conf I added HorizSync and VertRefresh to specify the correct ranges for a 17" MGC 770C CRT. I did CTRL+ALT+Backspace to see the changes but that did nothing to help the situation.

I then added a Display subsection to the Screen section in /etc/X11/xorg.conf to specify "1024×768" "800×600" "640×480". That works, but it forces the monitor to use an 85Hz refresh rate and causes 50Hz, 53Hz, 54Hz and 55Hz to be the only options in System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution for the refresh rate.

This is what I have:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Configured Monitor"
Option "DPMS"
HorizSync 30-70
VertRefresh 50-120

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Monitor "Configured Monitor"
Device "Configured Video Device"
Defaultdepth 24
Option "AddARGBGLXVisuals" "True"
SubSection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "1024x768_75.00" "1024x768" "800x600_75.00" "800x600" "640x480_75 "640x480"

That allows me to get 1024×768 with an 85Hz refresh rate, but not 75Hz.

Not sure how to get the correct list of refresh rates and be able to use them. I even tried "1024x768_75" in the display subsection for example, but it didn't help.

Further, before I installed the Nvidia legacy driver and made 1024×768 available, I was stuck at 640×480. This was bad because whenever a dialog popped up, I couldn't see the buttons because they were off screen and left-click + dragging didn't help. Luckily, I knew that I could hold down alt while dragging to workaround that.

2. Even though the Audigy sound card is detected, you don't get any sound by default. You have to have ESP to know that you need to load alsamixer in the terminal, move over to the analog/digital output jack toggle and press m to turn it off. Then sound works fine. (On Kubuntu this is worse because Kmix resets it on you all the time unless you edit Kmix's options.)

3. Every version of ubuntu I try has keyboard input problems. For example, if I'm typing along in an editor or the terminal, all of sudden, a character that I press will keep repeating all by itself. Same type of thing happens when scrolling with the arrow keys in a browser. All of a sudden, it'll start autoscrolling. This page basically describes the problem.

4. When clicking on a .deb file, no installer program opens up to install the program. I have to open up a terminal and use dpkg -i.

5. When clicking on an .rpm file, no installer program opens up to automatically convert to .deb and install the program. Instead, I have to manually install alien, convert and then use dpkg.

6. If you hit the backspace at the beginning of a line in the terminal, it makes the annoying system beep sound.

7. If an application freezes or is just busy for a few seconds, the whole window turns gray. I find this very very annoying because an application's window can turn gray and back to normal really quick and it can do it a lot. It's totally disruptive. Also, when this happens, if the flash plugin for example causes the gray, when the window comes back to normal, the flash plugin object will be gone and you have to refresh the page. When Firefox's "install missing plugins" service installs a plugin, it causes the gray also.

To fix these last two, I had to install the "Advanced Desktop Effects settings" ("sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager" I think) to turn off the System beep and to change the ping time setting so the gray doesn't happen as much. But, I didn't even know that's what I had to do until I got lucky searching google.

8. I couldn't find anything to clear the clipboard. I searched around and found that I should install glipper. The install appeared to go successfully, but there was no glipper anywhere, not even when trying to execute it on the command line. I installed Klipper instead and that works fine.

9. Firefox 3 beta 5 seems a lot slower compared to the windows version of 3 beta 5. Opera is super fast on Ubuntu though.

10. When I went to youtube in Firefox, it presented me with options for a flash plugin. I forget all the options it gave me, but one of them was swfdec (it was the first in the list). I chose that (mainly because I wanted to try it out). It installed and as a bonus, mp3 and wmv support etc. was installed along with it. Unfortunately, swfdec is horrible. It freezes Firefox and when it doesn't freeze, the audio is so so crackly. So, I installed the Adobe flash player plugin, but there was no way to get Firefox to to use it. Firefox kept on using the swfdec plugin. So, I used apt-get to remove swfdec-mozilla and manually cleaned up the leftover files in /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins, /usr/lib/iceweasel/plugins and /usr/lib/firefox/plugins. Then, the Adobe flash player plugin worked fine.

11. Playing 181.fm streams with the Totem player works great. But, even if you have the playlist to set to repeat, when the server drops the connection, the player just throws up an error dialog and waits for the user to click ok or something. So, I tried Rythymbox music player to play the streams. This worked fine for a bit, but it stops downloading the stream after awhile and reconnecting doesn't do anything. I gave up on that and installed Amarok. It works a lot better, but foobar on windows works perfectly in this area.

12. Video (flash plugin and in Totem) is very choppy and goes out of sync with the audio sometimes. On windows this isn't really a problem. You can't scroll, move the mouse or do anything while a video is playing or the audio will get even worse.

13. I like to use videolan and consider it a pretty important app (Videolan has better performance when playing videos and DVDs). But, it'd be nice if I didn't have to search for the universe repository URI and add it before trying to install.

14. Gedit is really slow at reading big files.

15. The Show desktop button fails to minimize all windows sometimes.

16. Getting Firefox to recognize sun java is a pain. Creating a symlink to libjavaplugin_oji.so is easy, but it doesn't help (this worked fine in the past). The only way I'm able to get Java to work is to use the "install missing plugins" option in Firefox to install sun java. In Opera, I can just set the java directory in preferences and be done with it.

17. I installed Wine. Notepad++ installs and works fine. I installed Safari also, but it's not stable under wine. Also, last time I checked, building win32 executables with mingw under wine didn't work. I'll have to try that again though.

18. When you empty trash in Nautilus, sometimes it doesn't refresh afterwards, which makes it look like nothing was deleted.

19. The update manager freezes when I click "check" and I have to kill it.

20. I tried Kubuntu with KDE4. What a mess!

21. Compared to windows, by default, there's not as much screen space. There's so much stuff on the top and bottom panels that trying to fit everything all on one panel and turning off the other bar isn't any fun.

Some of this stuff is just nitpicking, but having to *still* manually configure my video card and having sound secretely muted by default is horrible. The keyboard bug is a major problem also, but luckily, it doesn't happen all the time. I still hope they fix it though. The gray overlay for busy apps must not be on by default.

Now, here are some good things:

1. It recognized my usb printer.

2. It recognized my cable modem that's hooked up via usb. (This suprised me!).

3. In general, I could manage to use only Ubuntu just fine if there wasn't anything on Windows I needed to test.

4. Opera works wonderfully on Ubuntu.

14 Replies to “Ubuntu Hardy Heron – Things a new user shouldn’t have to mess with”

  1. concerning 6:90% of all terminal programs I know do thisI see. Is there an easier way to turn it off compared to installing “Advanced Desktop Effects settings”?10: I haven’t tried this (I don’t have firefox 3 on this system) but I think you might be able to use this settings dialog:http://codeinsane.com/pics/firefox_3_applications_tab.JPGYeh, for some reason that didnt work when I tried it. In fact, those settings in FF don’t really seem to do anything (even on windows). Maybe I’m just expecting the settings to work like Opera’s file types settings, but they don’t.17: don’t worry Safari isn’t stable on Windows eitherI solved this by building the latest webkit and building the Midori browser to use it.http://blog.kagou.fr/post/2008/04/21/Midori-browser-under-Ubuntu-Hardy-and-last-WebkitIt was really easy.Of course, Midori is really alpha right now. I might try to build Epiphany to use the latest webkit if it’s not too difficult, or maybe even Konqueror with the latest webkit.

  2. Mystic writes:

    I actually find Ubuntu screen space to be much better than windows.Also, Opera works? Last I checked, there was no version of Flash for Opera on Linux, so it was pretty much unusable. Gedit speed really bothers me though, as does a lot of stuff on this list. I don’t even get sound at all.Yet even so, I don’t want to go back to Windows, though I wouldn’t mind going back to Gutsy.

  3. I actually find Ubuntu screen space to be much better than windows.I ended up fixing this by adding the hide buttons to the top and bottom panels. Then, I just hide them when I’m not using them.Also, Opera works? Last I checked, there was no version of Flash for Opera on Linux, so it was pretty much unusable.Opera versions 9.5 are a pai with flash. But, with Opera 9.5 beta 2 and the lastest flash, things work fine.Gedit speed really bothers me though, as does a lot of stuff on this list.Yeh, I haven’t investigated many other GUI text editors yet, but will.

  4. XJ-77 writes:

    If you’re programming then just break everything up into smaller files, it would make things manageable later too. Or if you deal with large text file for other reasons, I don’t think there is anything better… gVim is also a good editor but even slower, and generally every editor I tried was slow on big files.Maybe a little profiling&optimization on gedit would help a lot…As for swfdec, it is also horribly slow around 1 frame per minute for me. But the web is full of accounts of how it plays video as fast or faster than Adobe Flash. I think it must be something with settings or specific video card… Can anybody find the corresponding swfdec bug? I use NVidia with the binary driver and Adobe Flash is fast.What I’d add to the list:* Synchronizing time with NTP servers should be on by default like on Windows.* The login manager should autologin (by default) when there’s only 1 user.* Background tasks that run every half hour slow down the system (noticeable when playing a game for example). They should maybe only run when the system is idle? The batch(1) command could be used to run them this way, as other Unixes do.

  5. I tried with a GeForce2 MX 400 and the restricted/non-restricted drivers for it. That still didn’t work for getting 1024×768@75Hz.However, I did find a way to get 1024×768@75Hz.I uninstalled all the nvidia drivers through Ubuntu’s add/remove programs and restarted.After the restart, the windows manager wouldn’t load and I was presented with the option to manually config things. I picked nvidia and picked a generic 1024×768 monitor and after *2* restarts, I got 1024×768@75Hz.But now, 85Hz isn’t available.I even tried installing some nvidia settings configuration gui, but 1024×768 wasn’t available and either was a refresh rate other than 60Hz.I also found that when using any of the restricted Nvidia drivers, alert dialogs in Opera would turn completely white if I alerted a lot of text. Not using the restricted drivers fixes that problem, but then I don’t think I get any hardware acceleration that way.I guess the main problem is that Ubuntu doesn’t know how to detect monitors properly. It assumes you have a 640×480@60Hz monitor and if you try to tell it otherwise, it fights you big time.Also, there’s a problem that’s specfiic to Gnome with low resolutions like 640×480. When a dialog (for settings for example) is open, but doesn’t fit on the screen, clicking controls in the dialog can fail. Instead of activating what you click on, the whole dialog will jump to the left and to the right. The add/remove programs manager does this for example. No problems like this in KDE.

  6. Quicksand writes:

    The system beep is annoying, isn’t it?Turn it off under System/Preferences/Sound then go to the “System Beep” tab and UNcheck “Enable system beep”I spent a while looking around in gconf-editor to find this, and ended up doing a Google search to find the answer. Now that I know: DUH!

  7. Lol Lolovici writes:

    For some reason disabling system beep as presented in the comment above never fully worked for me. There are situations when the speaker still beeps.I just completely disabled the pc-speaker feature to be safe. You don’t use that thing for anything anyway.To temporary disable the pcspeaker do in a command line:sudo modprobe -r pkspkrTo disable it permanently go to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist file and add a line anywhere stating:blacklist pkspkr

  8. Ubuntu writes:Ubuntu NEEDS a better GUI, I have multiple Dialogs I can’t configure because the buttons go off the screen >.

  9. Ragflan writes:

    Regarding:3, 15, 16, 18, 19 never happened to me. 4.) The package installer always comes up for me and I find it surprising when in some forums they still describe the the dpkg method through Terminal. 5.) Same as 4.6.) System beep’s option was really simple to turn off. If you had gone to Preferences -> Sound, there’s a tab there just to turn off System Beep.7.) This I agree with. It didn’t annoy me as much as it did you, but it’s happened before. 9.) I was using Firefox 3 Beta 5, and you just have to enable pipelining under ‘about:config’ and it flies. But I agree. Opera is faster. Epiphany, Galeon or Midori do match Opera’s speed.10.) Firefox actually asked me to install Adobe Flash, same as with Windows. I did that and I followed the instructions on the website (Adobe’s website) and I had no problems.12.) I always used VLC and I didn’t have any problems. 14.) There are many other lightweight text editors that do this job better. Just like how Notepad is never enough and you have to go to Textpad or Notepad++ on Windows. 17.) I didn’t really bother with Safari on Ubuntu. This is just my opinion: Safari or iTunes were never designed to be software. They were designed to be cows. 60mb for iTunes and 20mb for Safari. What additional usage do you get from a 20mb browser as opposed to a 6mb Firefox? Font smoothing?21.) I’ve always had only one panel and installed Avant Window Navigator and it makes my screen space appear more than that of Windows, plus offering better looks and more functionality with applets.There’s a number of things Ubuntu doesn’t do out of the box, and a number of things it does well out of the box. But these problems are hardly limited to Ubuntu or any Linux distribution. Windows Vista had so many problems as well. But at least with Ubuntu or most Linux distributions, you can fix things rightaway instead of waiting for a release from Microsoft. And I’m sure you can find a lot more things Ubuntu does well besides just the 4 you mentioned.

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