Note: Somehow, people assume I malign Ubuntu and Debian just because I like Fedora better. Invariably, they can be assumed to not have (like, ever) read this Wiki node, which (like the corresponding Fedora one) I update with notes for each version I use.

Ubuntu was the first Debian variant I was able to install without going through the excruciating pain of dselect (although initial versions were still a bit dumb to assume I don't want an English language system with a Portuguese input locale).

That, coupled with a 2.6 kernel, Gnome 2.8 (and 2.10) and a few other knick-knacks, made it an intriguing experience the first few times around (now I just go for Xfce and be damned with the desktop environment, since, almost invariably, Ubuntu manages to trash Gnome after a while).

The initial 4.x release lasted all of two days on my test machine, which is another first for Debian-based distros. It was also quickly updated to include the latest Firefox and Thunderbird releases, which was another plus - but despite being usable, Ubuntu lacks the true polish and ease of administration of Fedora, and inevitably breaks in unfathomable ways.

I've had pretty much zero trouble with modern versions, but here are my notes on older ones:

Ubuntu 12.10

To get graphics working properly on a Dell Optiplex 380, I had to use this PPA and set up fglrx-amdcccle-legacy.

Xubuntu 11.04

Disgusted with the unmitigated idiocy that is Unity and boggling at the stupidity of Gnome 3, I decided to skip the whole mess and move to Xubuntu and XFCE, which has a flakier installer but managed to get Wi-Fi working upon first boot.

Ubuntu 10.04

  • Dell Mini 9 - Stupidly enough, it doesn't come with the necessary Wi-Fi drivers. 3G support is still pants and can't connect to my corporate APN. Chrome installs sanely and runs speedily, Citrix installs in a more sane way than in previous versions but still has compositing issues. Text rendering still looks off, even after installing my usual font pack. Encrypting my home directory (or the entire disk) was a simple option in the alternate install CD, power management still leaves a lot to be desired (changing from charger to battery immediately triggers a "1% battery" warning and tries to hibernate the machine even on a full charge...).

Ubuntu 9.04

  • Dell D410 - A clean install yielded a buggy keychain management and authentication subsystem that prevented me from installing updates or accessing Wi-Fi networks. Encrypting my home directory required reinstalling.

Ubuntu 8.10

  • Eee 901 - very poor hardware support on the base distro. I have a separate set of notes on this one, since it involved obtaining and installing a custom kernel. In a nutshell, audio input doesn't work, and Bluetooth is an unmitigated disaster.
  • Dell D410 - nearly full hardware support. Dual head worked out of the box (crashy and fallible, still does not work properly on the fly, but usable), suspend/resume works marginally better than before, 3G support in NetworkManager doesn't like custom APN settings, and is therefore useless to me, and Citrix gets the mouse pointer wrong - all clicks are vertically offset by a few pixels, making it useless (this does not happen on other machines).

Ubuntu 8.04

Tested Hardware:

  • Eee 901 - installed the Ubuntu-Eee variant and removed the ridiculously bad "netbook" interface. Power management sucked until I got hold of eee-control. Suspend/resume works about 90% of times (not enough for me to feel confident). Dual head works poorly, but mirrored mode is usable for presentations. The machine is used daily, but suspend/resume failures make it hard to take the OS seriously.
  • Dell D410 - oddly enough, it made a hash of the built-in Wi-Fi (yes, it was a fresh reinstall). Dual head support was flaky, and updates broke X (yes, again). Suspend/resume failed 50% of the time. Gave up, switched to Fedora 9.

Ubuntu 7.04

Tested Hardware:

  • Dell/D410 - most hardware works out of the box - Intel 2200 Wi-Fi (including WPA support and a working NetworkManager out of the box), Bluetooth, CPU throttling, power management (apparently including suspend/resume and hibernate), laptop keys (volume control, etc.). Amazingly enough, it also includes Option Nozomi HDSPA card drivers. The new default themes pretty much sucked, so I tried elementary-theme for a while.

Configuration Notes:

  • There is a fairly complete Citrix guide here (although it was not updated for the 10.6 client when I visited). I also needed a specific root certificate.
  • compiz can be reset to defaults by doing gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/compiz
  • Setting CPU speed with the cpufreq applet is enabled by doing sudo dpkg-reconfigure gnome-applets.

Application Notes:

  • FreeMind and other Java applications will only work properly with compiz if you export AWT_TOOLKIT=MToolkit.
  • You can get the Office 2003 PowerPoint Viewer here (tweak WINE to go full-screen). Works OK once you copy/link across all the font files from your Windows partition.

Ubuntu 6.10

Tested Hardware:

  • Toshiba/M100 - Edgy Oct 17th build installed and ran mostly well on it, with working power management and Wi-Fi support. The X dpi tweak at the end of this page was still necessary.

Ubuntu 6.06.1

Tested Hardware:

  • HP/Compaq 7x00 Series (3GHz/1GB RAM) - Installer failed at end of package expansion (display went black with 3 character cells in white, probably due to poor hardware detection).
  • Toshiba/M100 - Same issue as above. CD was re-verified before attempting installation. Apparently the installer lives on and continues to copy files, but then stops to prompt user for input.

Xubuntu 6.06 LTS (Long Term Support they say)

Tested Hardware:

  • HP/Compaq 7x00 Series (3GHz/1GB RAM) - Installer failed the first time around (do not play around with Firefox during install...). Does not deal well with USB KVMs (mouse becomes erratic). Software suspend failed miserably. Hibernation worked. Default iptables setup is empty (i.e., the machine is completely unprotected, unlike Fedora). mySQL defaults to binding to localhost, which is good. Xgl worked, although it's pretty pointless, and X.org tends to take up inordinate amounts of CPU without any apparent reason (until I disabled it, since the machine is now a database server). Package installations work speedily (unlike yum, but packages have inconsistent (and confusing) names. Firefox crashes in 16-bit display modes with an internal GTK error. Got bitten by the infamous X.org package updates, too.
  • Toshiba Tecra 8100 - Live CD booted, detected hardware correctly (even the Cisco Wi-Fi card), failed to create partition for install. Rebooted, retried, worked. Had to install pcmcia-cs to get PCMCIA working (extremely dumb defaults, considering other PCMCIApackages were installed). Dumping in TrueType fonts required some tweaks for correct dpi adjustment, but despite Xfce the machine seems slower than Fedora Core 5. Hibernation worked - once, never again. Suspend fared better. After a week of use, I noticed that X.org completely hogs the CPU after a suspend/resume. Updates broke X twice. Upgrading to Edgy completely creamed the machine.
  • Toshiba Portegé M100 - Live CD booted, detected (but failed to activate correctly) the Intel Wi-Fi card. Did not install on hard disk, but played around with dual-head settings - the i810 chipset, which does flawless dual-head in XP at 32bpp and with a 1024x768 + 1280x1024 setup, utterly failed to do more than 1024x768 on both screens (although Xinerama worked fine), and was very slow in redrawing windows. Compositing, of course, was unusable.

Ubuntu 5.10

Tested Hardware:

  • iMac G5 (QEMU, using Q). LiveCD worked fine. Installation ISO did not check for available disk space and failed to install in a 2GB disk image. No warnings, no nothing. Just went on installing until it ran out of disk space. A second install took eight hours total, but the end result is too slow to be usable (and it's not just QEMU's fault). Froze the disk image for more testing later. Gave up on it eventually.
  • Toshiba Tecra 8100 - Instalation took three hours (no changes to the machine since previous Ubuntu versions). Wi-Fi support botched during installation (repeatedly refused to associate to the right SSID, two eth interfaces appeared after first graphical login). Audio and X worked first time, application launch was slow (Firefox took over 30s to show up), trying to set up power management froze the machine, apt-get update and reboot trashed gdm. Gave up on it.

Ubuntu 5.04

Tested Hardware:

  • Toshiba Tecra 8100 - Instalation was slow as molasses (the Debian package manager is still hideous and still takes too long to figure out what to do, but the installer actually works now). Wi-Fi support worked during installation, X came up right, battery-applet worked, but with odd log messages. No audio support. Still too early to tell if it is stable or usable. Hibernation support is hosed for sure, though.

Ubuntu 4.10

Tested Hardware:

  • Toshiba Portegé M100 - ate my hard disk. Poor wireless support. No decent power management. Gave up on it.
  • Toshiba Tecra 8000 - installed perfectly (but extremely slowly) on the 8000 I use for Wi-Fi testing - left overnight on its dock at work. Made a mess of video card detection, required manual tweaking of XF86Config-4. After that, synaptic bumped it to the latest Firefox and Thunderbird with no problems. Dock hardware worked, Cisco Aironet 350 card worked on first try (but GUI lacked WEP settings, no WPA support, etc... the usual Linux shortcomings). PCMCIA Memory Stick reader worked painlessly and placed a volume icon on the desktop automagically.
  • Toshiba Tecra 8100 - Initial installation on the 8100 (my home test PC, which has run more OSes than most people) was a shambles. Besides being extremely slow, installation ended leaving me with no Gnome or X packages installed (for apparently no reason - I simply followed all the defaults). I gave up adding packages manually, and left it reinstalling without network updates, which worked after about four hours. The Release Candidate installed more or less smoothly, but it still feels slow . It took a BIOS update for ACPI and the battery-applet to work, but an apt-get dist-upgrade killed Gnome in an unfathomable way.
  • Virtual PC - wouldn't detect network automatically (virtual switch configuration, same as Fedora, which installs and runs perfectly). Cancelled installation.

Software Niceties

  • Forces you to use sudo and think about what you're trying to do.
  • Updated to latest Thunderbird easily (including some extensions and GPG/PGP support).
  • Oodles of Python stuff installed by default.
  • Latest OpenOffice (or close enough).
  • Decent hotplug support on Linux at last (Yeah, I know all about Mandrake. Won't touch it with a yardstick.)


  • Release Candidate reverted to Firefox 0.9.3
  • Dumb Nautilus setup with no visible desktop (usability isn't about removing the first things people look for, and it's inconsistent with hotplug behavior not to show the computer's own disk).
  • Inconsistent icon theming (Fedora's BlueCurve runs rings around the default Ubuntu look).
  • Can't set Thunderbird as preferred mailer in Gnome preferences (i.e., it's not part of suggested selections, of course it works if you do it manually).
  • Evolution 2.0 crashes like it was pre-1.0.
  • Wierd font selection (haven't tried dumping in my TrueType font pack yet).


# Bluetooth and other goodies
deb http://people.ubuntu.com/~jdub/warty/ ./
# Mono, Tomboy, Muine
deb http://www.getsweaaa.com/~tseng/ubuntu/debs/ ./


DPI table for TrueType adjustments:

#       DisplaySize     270     203     # 1024x768 96dpi
#       DisplaySize     338     254     # 1280x960 96dpi
#       DisplaySize     338     270     # 1280x1024 96dpi
#       DisplaySize     370     277     # 1400x1050 96dpi
#       DisplaySize     423     370     # 1600x1400 96dpi