Just prior to my Christmas break last year I “dropped” my laptop as it was hibernating, it was only an inch or so as I put it down but the knock was hard enough to corrupt my Windows registry! After trying to recover the damaged file I got XP to reboot but it was all a bit messed up.
Not having my XP install disk (it is a work laptop) and desperate to have my laptop up and running over the holiday I decided to install Ubuntu 7.10. The install was painless and as a bit of an experiment in using Linux as a desktop OS I have kept Ubuntu on my laptop since then.
So when my automatic update offered me to upgrade me to 8.04 I thought, “Why not?”. Having never done a complete OS upgrade via an automatic update process and knowing that I had tinkered with my 7.10 install quite a bit, I expected that it wouldn’t be a smooth process but kicked it off anyway.
So after about 6 hours of downloading and answering a couple of questions I was pleasantly surprised, when after a reboot, I was running my bright and shiny 8.04 install.
Then I was informed that propriety video card drivers were available and did I want to install them ?
Now my laptop is an old Del Inspiron 8600 which has an ATI video card in it. ATI unfortunately hasn’t quite joined the open source party so although they support Linux it is with a closed source driver. When initially setting up 7.10 I did try this driver but did not have much luck especially with issues when hibernating my latop.
Hoping that things had gotten better I decided to give them another go.
First off I enabled the drivers but had a persistent red dot on the hardware drivers screen that indicate that the driver “was not in use”.
Additionally I wasn’t able to turn on the desktop effects and I was beginning to miss my spinning desktop cube.
After digging around on the web it turns out that running:
should list out information that indicates that OpenGL support is been handled by ATI. In my case, no matter what I did Mesa stubbornly remained listed as the provider!
I then found this link: http://ubuntu-utah.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=569654&highlight=600m+gutsy which had an excellent guide (although targeting 7.10). Following this guide I came to the conclusion that my fglrx kernel module wasn’t been loaded because running:
lsmod | grep fglrx
Didn’t produce any output. Using some Google-fu I then found this link: http://www.phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=6017 which had an suggestion of commenting out a line in /etc/modprobe.d/lrm-video.
Following this advice and a reboot later, everything was just peachy. I was able to enable the Visual Effects and get my spinning desktop cube, all using a nice speedy ATI driver.
So was the hibernate problem had been fixed? Closing my laptop lid I waited with baited breath… and no its still broken. In fact it appears hibernate flat lined my CPU, all my laptop fans came on and the laptop got very very hot ! Not so good.
For the moment I have simply changed my power settings to shutdown instead of hibernate when the lid is closed. Its a pain but at least I get my 3D acceleration.
Hopefully this problem will get fixed but if you follow the various forums the root cause is some incompatibility with a library that the ATI drivers use and of course because they are closed source we have to wait for ATI to fix them.
Since this has been an issue for a while I’m not holding my breath but 8.03 has LTS (long term support) for 3 years so we may get lucky.
After the success of my laptop upgrade I also did my home theater PC which I’ve also been running Ubuntu on (after surprise, surprise another Windows issue caused me to migrate). This one was completely painless.
At this rate I’m not going to have any Windows machines left in my household !