The Death of Kubuntu 8.10 64-bit on the Athlon 64!

The Plan

It was quite straight forward, today I was going to commit to creating a web page layout for work using CSS. I call this sort of thing a “practical learning exercise”. I would use my laptop for looking up information and my Athlon 64 PC to create the style sheets.

Well that was the plan, but first I decided to sort out my growing collection of Personal Computer World (PCW) Magazine cover CDs, it was about time some got ditched to make some shelf space for my Linux Format DVDs (my New Year present to myself was a subscription to this magazine) in addition to my PCW subscription!

Plan B (or M for Mandriva)

It was during this clear out that I found a Mandriva 2009 DVD which I had downloaded a few weeks earlier. As my Kubuntu installation on my Athlon 64 was less than satisfactory, mainly:

  • graphics resolution kept getting screwed up using the ATI drivers
  • I could not dump DV off my video camera with dvgrab via firewire without loosing the audio
  • Every time you want to grab DV off the video camera using firewire you had to enter sudo chmod 666 /dev/raw1394 as the file was a member of the disk group rather than audio or video (ls -l /dev/raw1394). As this file is dynamically created when the OS detects a device connected to firewire. A complete pain in the bum!
  • The HP Scanjet 7400C scanner although detected failed to work, crashing the KDE desktop whenever I tried to scan a document
  • Kdenlive was not the latest version due to Canonical not adding the 0.7.0 release into the 8.10 release and therefore allowing it to run natively in KDE4 (thanks for nothing chaps!)
  • The audio management was screwed up by the audio an the ATI Radeon 2400 taking precedence over the on-board audio on the A8V-VM SE motherboard.

I decided to insert the DVD and make the PC dual boot.

Having not used Mandriva (it was called Mandrake when I last used it) for some time I was impressed on the installer program was in my view is better than that provided with Ubuntu, in particular the in-built disk partitioner. Very easy to use.

The installation went off without any problems, and after the system checked for updates I arrived at the Mandriva 2009 desktop (KDE 4.1).

  • My audio worked properly (unlike in Kubuntu 8.10)
  • My display resolution and font size was sensible for a 1024×768 @ 70Hz screen and unlike before the settings remained after a reboot
  • I could now use dvgrab to capture audio and video via Firewire iee1394, I suspect this is something to do with the audio now being setup correctly.
  • I now had Kdenlive 0.7.0 installed, I’ve yet to work out how to upgrade this to 0.7.1 which came out last week. However, but this was a major step forward.
  • The /dev/raw1394 file is assigned to the video group, so as long as you are a member of this group you can access firewire devices. Why Kubuntu was not setup in this way by default is any ones guess! Yes, I know you can edit the configuration file in Kubuntu, but as a general user this is not something I should have to do!
  • I like the package manager GUI, it’s a damn site better than that in openSUSE which was enough to put me off SUSE. However, I miss apt-get from the command line and have yet to discover its equivalent in Mandriva.

The Downside

  • Scanning still does not work, same problem as before. It used to work under Kubuntu 7.10 but I suspect something fundamental is broken here rather than being a distribution issue
  • I managed to loose the K menu button, but sort of got it back by adding it as a Widget to the desktop.
  • Having used the new KDE 4 K menu, I was rather disappointed to find that Mandriva used the classic menu. However, a right click on the menu allows you to change.
  • Mandriva does not seem to have Nano installed as the command line text editor, which is a bit of a pain and it uses KWrite as the GUI text editor rather than Kate which is my preference.
  • Quite a few video formats do not seem to want to work “out of the box”, looks like I may need to install VideoLAN (VLC)

Anyway, after a good “play” and as it was after lunchtime, I decided to get down to doing some real work and back to my original plan for the day and reboot the system back into Kubuntu 8.10 on the Athlon 64. So selected the Kubuntu 8.10 option from the Grub menu and was kindly told that there was an error on line 15, my OS could not be found! I’m not sure what caused this to happen, Grub is normally very good at dual booting, but not on this occasion. As I was more than satisfied with the implementation of KDE 4.1 in Mandriva 2009 over Canonical’s Kubuntu 8.10 then this was no loss at all. Having played with Mandriva I’ve decided to wipe Kububtu 8.10 64-bit off this PC and install Mandriva 2009.

…and Kubuntu 64?

Will I reinstall Kubuntu 64-bit again? Well unless Kubuntu get their act together and put together a 64-bit version of KDE 4.1 which actually works properly on this hardware configuration, then the answer is a straight NO. Don’t get me wrong, I use Kubuntu 8.10 on all my other PCs and generally it works, except in this instance!

Looks like the plan to do CSS webpage designing will be postponed until tomorrow!

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