attribute: Phillie Casablanca

Vista vs. Ubuntu - Challenges of the dual boot



My new pc came, I decided on the dell M1330, after lusting after it since it came out.

I never had the chance to see it before buying, but I'd read most of the reviews and comments about it and it seemed pretty solid. So far I'm pretty happy with the machine itself. As some have mentioned the keyboard is a little hard, but I think my fingers will gradually get used to it.

It came installed with vista, no option not to include it. I had been thinking to go full ubuntu if that option was available, but it wasn't.

So the first task was to partition the drive. Since I have vista I plan on keeping it, so my plan is to have 2 OS partitions with one shared data partition.

I first tried to partition in vista with the info found here:
http://www.vistarewired.com/2007/02/16/how-to-resize-a-partition-in-windows-vista

But this seemed only able to give me a 50gb partition. I did this anyway, and then went into the ubuntu 8.10 installer (from a burned disc).

Starting from the disk it took me to the paritioning section and I was then able to cut down the single big vista partition down to 60gb, then created a 60gb partition for ubuntu, 16gb swap partition, and the remaining as the data partition. (Note: I left the other dell partitions as is, having read issues with mediadrive or whatever and thought leaving these untouched may bypass the troubleshooting needed to resolve those potentional issues)

It seemed to work ok, so I proceeded with the install.

On reboot I decided to go into vista and see if cutting the vista partition. did any damage.
It booted up, but forced a chkdisk. Ok, not a big deal, after check disk finished it seemed to boot ok.

Reboot back into ubuntu. Crap, Grub boot loader error 17. :S
Vista must have messed up the partitioning table or something when chkdisk ran. Anyway, since the ubuntu install is pretty quick, I just decided to go through it again.

Ok, install using the partitions I created previously.
Now, load into ubuntu. Seems ok. Pull down latest updates and reboot.
Ok, I think I'm good.

Now, go back to vista. Loads ok.
Reboot to ubuntu, Looks good.

Now to get down to work.
Since I want to share data between vista/ubuntu, I thought to use a single partition to hold ubuntu and vista user data. I initially cleared this partition using ubuntu, but actually went back to vista to format the partition as ntfs.

I'd done some searching and it seems that ntfs support is available with ubuntu.
First I looked into moving the vista users directory to the new partition.
I found this:
http://joshmouch.wordpress.com/2007/04/07/change-user-profile-folder-location-in-vista/

But, it looked to complicated, so I took a look at the ubuntu side.
For me the ubuntu side fell into the following steps:

1. Figure out how to automatically mount a ntfs partition.
First I read a gui way to do this, using the NTFS Configuration Tool, but it was giving me a strange error about invalid character in path, even though my path was plain ascii/utf8 text. So I had to dig in and find the commands needed to do this via the console. This did it. I skipped most of the install steps since 8.10 apparently has these packages pre-installed:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=217009

2. Move the home directory
This was my main guid,e here:
http://ubuntu.wordpress.com/2006/01/29/move-home-to-its-own-partition/

the cpio command isn't correct. I don't remember exactly but I think changing:


$find . -depth -print0 | cpio –null –sparse -pvd /mnt/newhome/

To:

$find . -depth -print0 | cpio -–sparse -pvd /mnt/newhome/

Solved the initial copy problem.

This also mentions what needs to be added to the fstab file, so I combined what I found in step one with this.

3. Fix "User's $HOME/.dmrc file is being ignored" error after reboot.
After, doing the first two steps my home directory was now located on the new ntfs partition, but when I logged in I got the error mentioned above.

The addition mentioned here:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=899264&highlight=change+permission+ntfs

Resolved the login error. (At least for now, it mentions that it changes the whole permissions of the disk to a single user. This may be a problem in the future, but I'm ok with it for now.)

So that's where I am for now with ubuntu. So far it's given me more trouble than vista.
I hit a bump when trying to get flash installed. Double clicking the downloaded package from adobe wouldn't launch the package manager. Clicking add/remove didn't do anything either, not sure why. I ended up, again, going to the console to manually install the package. (Not a major issue, but since I don't know the commands it takes time to look up, and double-clicking the *.deb package *should* work!) [Rebooted and add/remove now seems to work ok]

Remaining Ubuntu issues:
- Can't connect to wifi with wpa. (Works on unencrypted access points)
- Haven't attacked video playback yet (other than flash)
- Would like to get the remote working with ubuntu, the m1330 has a built ir, that I should be able to use http://www.lirc.org/, right?)
- I want the hdmi port to work, I'm sure it will be another block of time to get this working.

This is my first major experience trying to really use ubuntu. I've installed it in virtualPC before and on a spare laptop. Unfortunatly, it's been more painful than I expected.

My impression is that if you keep it simple and only use ubuntu, without wacky partitioning requirements, (and you don't need wpa) ubuntu *probably* can meet your needs, but for environments with various requirements it just doesn't seem *ready* yet.

I'll still try to use it as my main os. I'm sure once I get a better understanding of linux troubleshooting will go more smoothly.

monkut // Feb. 22, 2009 // 9:17 a.m.