Saturday, October 20, 2007

Ubuntu Upgrade...or not (with compiz)

Perhaps it was a lack of patience on my part, or poor forward planning on Ubuntu's part, but I could no longer continue to attempt upgrading after what was likely the 30th failed attempt. As a result of this upgrade attempt outcome I decided to backup the /home/* directories and perform a clean install.

As one would expect the standard install succeeded with no problem. The expected options were available from custom partitioning to setting initial user and permissions during the installation. The only real issue that I had was with the "seamless" compiz implementation that I had heard so much about.

For this installation I used an HP laptop that I have, this laptop contains an ATI X series video card and therefore supports 3D acceleration. I was disappointed that the compiz (3D) desktop acceleration did not work out of the box, so here is what I did to make it work: Initially I simply tried to enable Extra effects after enabling the proprietary video card. This only produced the error "Composite extension not found"...after enabling in xorg.conf (as described below) I received the fairly generic error "Unable to enable visual effects" or similar... So here are my steps to enable compiz on Ubuntu 7.10 with ATI drivers (what worked for me)

  • Enable all of the repos that have proprietary software and the like System -> Administration -> Software Sources.
  • Enable the proprietary video card driver from the Restricted Drivers Manager.
  • Make sure composite extensions are enabled : vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf
Section "Extensions"
Option "Composite" "1"
  • Install xserver-xgl "sudo apt-get install xserver-xgl
  • Install compizconfig-settings-manager "sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager" *this is not a requirement but gives you a level of customization that is nice.
  • Restart X
  • Try it out System -> Preferences -> Appearance -> Visual Affects (select what you want here...I used Extra then Custom from the last apt-get install)
Everything else worked nicely, enabled the proprietary fwcutter for my wireless card and it worked, no more mucking with it as in previous versions, very nice!

All in all, I give this version a Thumbs Up despite the upgrade mess, seems more stable so far and clean.

Hope this helps someone out :-)


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