It has been over a year since I’ve had my Asus F6V laptop. It was a last minute buy, with little or no thinking involved, since I was flying to the Netherlands the next day. And I couldn’t have made a better choice. I’ve been lucky with laptops so far :)
So, my work requires me to use Linux. And it doesn’t require me at all to use Windows. So, one of my first actions when I got settled in Utrecht was to get an Ubuntu CD and install it on my hard drive. A year and two formats later, here is how my system is configured and a small review of Ubuntu 9.10. This might come handy for someone else, or you might have comments to make to my options, or I might want to remember how I had this done; that’s why I’m writing it down.
So, my hard drive is big: 320GB. I split it in two halves, one for my stuff, another for the system stuff. If you ever installed Ubuntu, you know that you have those Videos/Pictures/Music/Documents folders on your /home/user directory. Well, I followed that structure on my personal partition, which I called DATA. The other 160GB are there for operatives systems. Why have I chose this? Well, this way I only have to format half of my hard drive (without the hassle of backups) whenever something goes wrong or I want to update my system (which with Ubuntu versions usually means do a fresh install). DATA is always left unscathed. And it comes handy. In little over half an hour (from CD download to firing up my desktop) I can have a new system up and running. The days of burning DVDs with documents are over. How does it work then?
The data partition is mounted as a regular directory in the filesystem. The mountpoint is defined as DATA and everyone (ie. my user) has read/write access. Just like any other folder in my home directory. The fstab file looks like this (thanks to the guys at P@P for hints):
# /etc/fstab: static file system information. ## I excluded Standard partitions ## # DATA was on /dev/sda5 during installation UUID=A2F09F72F09F4B83 /DATA ntfs defaults,auto,umask=007,gid=joao 0 0
I had a hard time figuring this out manually. Essentially, when you reformat your hard drive, I can just set the DATA partition mount point automatically. This is done during the partition editing step of the installation and it works flawlessly and with two mouse clicks. But I forgot to do it this last time and I had to edit /etc/fstab manually to add it. At least I learned something :)
I then have my Documents/Videos/blabla folders on the home directory erased and replaced by soft links to the directories on this DATA partition. Comes handy. It keeps working with all the shortcuts of the system (menus, music software, etc) without a single modification. And it’s done simply by right-clicking the folder icons on Nautilus and then cutting-pasting them in the home directory. In a command line, I do it like this:
ln -s /DATA/Videos /home/joao/Videos
So, this small and simple trick allows me to erase whatever I want from my system, screw up as many times as I want, and I can always be sure that my stuff is safe in DATA. As long as that partition is not touched during installation, that is.
Now, on to Ubuntu 9.10. I had complained before that the system was bad, balblabla. I had a very very hard time with the last update to 9.04. I actually had to re-format because I lost sound, then I lost skype’s camera, then I lost the ability to watch videos properly… well, honestly, it was a mess. It took me a while to get my 9.04 working decently. And then I decided (last week) to update to Karmic (9.10). And it was a bad decision. Honestly, Ubuntu guys have still to come up with a smooth version upgrade procedure. I only had it once (a year ago exactly). Up until and ever since, they were always problematic. However, a fresh install of this version apparently solved all the problems I was having. All but one: my computer crashes completely when I’m viewing a flash video for a long period of time. But I can assume that’s a flash issue.
All of my features are working out of the box. Films, music, iPod connection, visual effects, programming stuff, even the language (set it to portuguese) is good. This seems like a solid release. I’ve disabled the backports and unsupported update repositories. I’m not that eager to try new stuff, and I have to work on this machine so testing can come later :)
There is only one issue that’s bugging me: battery life. Ubuntu has never been good at keeping my battery alive for long. But now it’s absurd. However, I’m not blaming it for the shortage of power. It’s been a full year of intensive usage, I’d say at least 12 hours per day, and I’ve moved recently to the US, where the voltage is different. I’m thinking on buying a new battery and a “native US” charger to handle the voltage.
That’s pretty much it. For what it’s worth :)