30 June 2013

Ubuntu Fail

Recently I tried to switch permanently to Ubuntu, the logic was that I mainly do 3 things on my laptop: internet browsing, coding and watching movies/videos on VLC and none of them require Windows, so switching to the Ubuntu made sense, also it has got some tools which I wanted to learn, e.g. octave. I didn't want to loose my Windows 8 installation and wanted to install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS parallel to W8. Earlier attempt of installing Ubuntu failed due to a lot of EFI related issues.

Ubuntu 12.04

Installation was smooth and I was able to get the grub screen, which displayed a number of options to choose from. I logged into Ubuntu. The familiar Unity interface came up, which I did not like so I went ahead and installed GNOME. But it ran in fallback mode due to graphics driver issues. My laptop has hybrid graphics: ATI with + Intel 4000 . I looked on the web for the drivers but found nothing, Intel stopped developing a graphics driver for 12.04 due to some dependency issues but there was a driver for 12.10.

Another issue which I faced due to the lack of the graphics drivers was the pixelated video play in VLC. So I thought of upgrading from 12.04 to 12.10.

Ubuntu 12.10

After upgradation was done, I could not get the grub, it got screwed somehow. I got a blank screen, nothing else. I ran the live cd and did a boot repair. It restored the grub, but when I selected the linux option in the grub and hit Enter, a blank screen appeared and kept appearing until I switched of the system. I tried recovery mode, which logged me into the command line mode. There was a message which said I could upgrade to 13.04 from 12.10. Having known that Intel has provided a good support for 13.04 I decided to upgrade.

Ubuntu 13.04

Again I had to run boot repair to fix the grub issues, even after that I was not able to log in, the blank screen didn't go away no matter what I did. This time I thought of installing 13.04 from scratch, a fresh installation. Everything went smooth and I was able to login. After using about half an hour I noticed a weird issue of my mouse pointer moving a little out of place, the motion was not precise. It seemed to be a driver issue for Synaptics touchpad. A latest driver for Synaptics was already installed. I tried tweaking Synaptics settings, but nothing noticeable happened. And this issue was affecting my whole experience, I was not able to open links I intended to open, I was not able to close windows etc. It was worse than that graphics issue I had in 12.04.

So I went back to 12.04 and this time I installed Xubuntu desktop. It worked ok for some time until one day, I had to connect my laptop to a projector. Due to no graphics driver only one display was supported, I selected monitor option and my laptop screen went blank. When the job was done, I disconnected the projector hoping my laptop screen will lit up, it remained blank.

Xubuntu-desktop had another issue, the fan would start spinning at full speed after waking the laptop from suspension. I tried a patch which I found on the net, it did not help.

Linux Mint 15

Finally I thought of giving Mint a try, since it came with a lot of pre-installed software and drivers. Installed it after wiping the previous 12.04 installation. When I tried to boot I got a grub rescue screen, I tried many things to restore grub but failed all the time. Now I was not able to boot into any of the systems, neither Windows 8 nor Mint 15. I gave up, removed grub and booted into W8 and formatted the Mint partition. Now I have decided to run linux on top Windows; in VrtualBox.

Final Thoughts

Ubuntu 13.04 with GNOME has better looks than Windows 8 but when it comes to hardware support, many h/w companies don't care about this market segment (linux). GRUB is another rotten area in the Linux territory, if you are damn lucky then only it might work. Linux guys need to work together to create a better alternative to GRUB. Finally I still hope that one day I'll be able to make a permanent switch to Ubuntu or any other popular distribution.

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