David R. Heffelfinger

  Ensode Technology, LLC

 
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Installing Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex in an old laptop


I have an old Averatec 3250H1 laptop that is still being used (2200+ 32 bit AMD processor, 60GB hard disk, 512MB RAM). This laptop was running Ubuntu 5.04 (Hoary Hedgehog).

I wanted to upgrade the version of Ubuntu to a more modern version. I downloaded the 32 bit version of the Intrepid Ibex install ISO, burned it into a CD and got to work.

Unfortunately the installer CD wasn't running properly, early into the install process it would just dump me into a command line and the install would abort.

I tried googling around but most information out there for this laptop is from around circa 2005, seems like nobody is trying to install a modern version of Linux on this specific laptop model.

After some messing around, I started to suspect that what was making the install abort was lack of drivers for the video card on this machine (S3 Unichrome Integrated Graphics with 64MB Shared Memory). I tried looking for an alternate way to install, the only way I could find was to download an alternate install ISO. So I downloaded this alternate install CD and proceeded to install Ibex on this "classic" laptop, unfortunately, the installer froze again at 25% of the "Select and Install Software" stage, in the "Preparing gnome-icon-theme" step. At this point I had to abort the installation, by forcibly turning off the laptop, which became unbootable after this mishap.

At this point I tried the Ubuntu alternate install CD once again, this time choosing the "command line system" (or something along those lines) option. I figured I could try and hack my way into installing X later, after all, it was running when the laptop had Hoary Hedgehog. This time, the install finished successfully, and I had a fully functional (albeit text only) system.

I booted up to my new install and upgraded all the software by running "apt-get update", followed by "apt-get upgrade" (thank goodness I am a Debian veteran and a few years of graphical only package management in Ubuntu didn't make me forget how to update software from the command line). At this point I had a fully updated, command line only system.

After some more googling around, it became obvious that I wasn't the only one having problems with the included Unichrome integrated video card included in the laptop. Thankfully, I was able to figure out that I needed the "openchrome" X driver, and I found a usable xorg.conf that I could just download and use.

After figuring out how to configure the video card, I was able to successfully run X, however saying that it was ugly doesn't even begin to describe it, all I had was a terminal window and a gray background, of course, GNOME wasn't yet installed.

I did an "apt-get install gnome", which resulted in approximately a million packages being downloaded and installed, after a very long wait I tried to boot to X again, this time running GNOME, but for some reason it seemed to be running a Debian theme, as opposed to the default Ubuntu "brown" theme.

At this point I have the laptop almost fully functional. The only thing that is not working yet is the wireless. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get it to work, after all it was working in Hoary, however life got in the way and I had to stop setting it up. To be continued, I guess.

 
 
 
 
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