Friday, December 27, 2013

Linux Rant II

As per a comment I left in G+ to my previous post, I started the ugly update process to try and get my laptop running something usable.

First, I installed Ubuntu 10.04. It seemed to work. Rebooted fine, and let me log in. All seemed good.

Then I brought up the update tool and it told me there was a new LTS release - 12.04 - available to upgrade to. Perfect. So I told it to do that. And I waited.

An hour or two later I found it waiting for input to go ahead and replace certain libraries (I think) that it needed to do before it could actually process the update. Fine. I allowed that.

Came back a couple of hours after that to find 2 dialog boxes on the screen. The one in the back was fine, and just told me that the machine needed to be rebooted, which I expected would be the case. The one in front, though, was completely illegible. There were things that were obviously supposed to be characters in it, but they were rectangular boxes instead. A row of them that was obviously supposed to be some sort of status or error message, but it was completely unreadable. There was, however, an obvious button with just 2 such boxes in it, which probably meant "OK", so I clicked on that and the dialog disappeared. Odd, but whatever.

Then I clicked on the reboot dialog. And it rebooted. Success, right?

Well, no. Not quite. First it tried to shut down and hung during the process. Fine. Power off, then power back up.

It booted, and got me to the login screen. That's good. Entered my password and...

Gibberish. A screen full of junk that look mostly like random memory instead of whatever it is supposed to display. No ability to read anything, execute any commands, nothing.

Power off, power on. Try again. Same result.

Theory: Ubuntu has switched to some half baked open source driver for the graphics chip maker in my laptop, and that driver doesn't know how to fully support the ancient chip in my ancient machine. If I want to make this work I may have to figure out how to install the proper proprietary driver on the silly thing, but that may well require getting it to bloody work in the first place. Maybe I can boot into some safe mode and poke around. I don't even remember which graphics card is used in that laptop. Gah!

But it was late, so I gave up and went to bed. I may fiddle with this again this afternoon. It'll be about as much fun as getting a root canal, I'm sure, but I'll see what I can do.

Such fun. I might even post a video of my Ubuntu boot experience, but that would mean figuring out YouTube, and that would probably be just as fraught with errors and issues.

Ben says I should check out Debian. Maybe I will do that. And maybe Arch. All I want is something that bloody works.