Desktop Linux Trio Offers Look at Whats To Come - Page 3

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In addition to the distributions strong graphical Synaptic and Add/Remove applications, and its command-line apt-get application, the newest Ubuntu version ships with an Add/Remove Extensions tool for locating and managing Firefox Web browser extensions.

The new tool appears as a link alongside the standard Get Extensions link within the Firefox Add-ons configuration dialog. In addition to being a bit easier to install, the 17 Firefox extensions listed in the new configuration dialog are supported by Ubuntus corporate sponsor, Canonical.

Hardware Support

I tested the x86 versions of all three distributions on on a Lenovo ThinkPad T60p with a 2GHz, dual-core Intel Core 2 processor, 2GB of RAM, an ATI Mobility FireGL V5250 graphics adapter and an Atheros AR5418 wireless network adapter.

Theres no open-source driver available for the ThinkPads graphics adapter, so I had the option of sticking with 2-D-only VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) graphics, or of downloading and installing ATIs proprietary driver.

Upon Ubuntus first boot on the same hardware, the OS exhibited an annoying bug in which the systems GNOME Display Manager would start and crash six times in a row, before announcing that it would rest for 2 minutes, before starting the restart cycle again.


Click here to read about the Linux Foundations findings that desktop Linux is on the rise.

To break this cycle, I had to hit Ctrl-Alt-F2 to switch to a virtual terminal, log into the system, stop the GDM service and then start up Ubuntus graphical interface with the "startx" command.

I then installed ATIs proprietary driver using Ubuntus handy Restricted Drivers tool, which made the process as easy as clicking a check box, entering my password to authorize the installation and rebooting to allow the changes to take effect.

The GDM-restart issue doesnt appear to affect all ThinkPads with recent ATI adapters, as Ive also tested Ubuntu 7.10 with a ThinkPad T60 and not experienced this issue.

On OpenSUSE and Fedora, I had to locate and configure the right third-party software repository, install the driver package from the respective systems command-line or graphical software utilities, and then complete the configuration for the new driver manually.

As it turned out, I didnt manage to successfully enable the ATI driver on Fedora or OpenSUSE. Once Id installed the driver on OpenSUSE, the systems display configuration utility offered me no option to switch to the new driver. Under Fedora 8, my display server refused to start with the ATI driver enabled, and Fedora failed, uncharacteristically, to return me automatically to a sane display configuration.

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