Archive for the ‘troubleshooting’ Category

Brief Revisit to XP – DSL Problems and Kudos to Earl

January 9, 2007


I’ve been having intermittent problems with my DSL service over the past couple of months. After behaving itself through most of December, it seems to have reared it’s ugly head again in the past couple of weeks. I won’t go very far into it except to say that it sometimes drops the connection and resyncs every 30 seconds. Other days it stays up steady for hours.

Tonight I got frustrated enough to call technical support. But before I did, I decided to boot up into XP so that I wouldn’t frighten the tech support staff away by telling them I’m running Linux. Of course my worry is that once they hear I’m running Linux they’ll claim that they don’t support that OS and possibly put the blame for my troubles squarely on that.

Now it’s been months since I’ve booted this machine into XP and after 10 minutes I noted three things:

1. Man.. does it ever take a long time to get to a workable desktop!

2. Man.. does it ever load a gi-normous amount of applets into the system tray!

3. Man.. does it ever hound you about updating spyware databases, anti-virus updates, windows system updates, and firewall software updates!

It’s amazing how many little bubbles can pop up once you don’t boot XP for a couple of months. If there’s one thing I love about running Linux (and the Mac guys are no different) is that you don’t have to be running 5 different third party security apps every time you boot up. I made the mistake of double-clicking Firefox before all the applets were loaded, so it took almost a minute for it to appear – all this on a P4-3GHz machine with 1GB of ram. Good god man!

Now just like when you hear a rattle in your car for a week but it seems to disappear when you bring the car in for service, my DSL seemed to be working fine almost the whole time I was on the phone with tech support. But after 10 minutes of describing and discussing the problem, he noted that my line was showing NO DSL service at all from his end. All this while I was clicking and browsing the web. So definitely something is up with the line. He created a ticket (whatever that is) for me and told me my problem was a level 2 tech support staff issue and that they would contact me within a few days. I guess it was out of his league.

So in the end I never had to run through the usual check of DSL settings and connectivity settings in the OS, which means I never really had to boot into XP anyway but at least it reminded me of why I started running Linux. 🙂

In a related note, Earl Moore has a nice writeup of his opinions on running Ubuntu. He gives some honest and practical comparisons between XP, Ubuntu and OS X. And while he prefers OS X (yes Earl, it *is* a slick interface, I’ll give them that), he’s honest in his criticisms and praise of Ubuntu. And kudos to him for trying it out before giving his opinions – nice to hear some realistic non-fanboy real world comparisons.

I’ve never really criticized OS X either way since I’ve never tried it (apart from clicking around on a few machines in the Apple store a couple of times). I’m not a huge fan of Apple’s proprietary nature (nor Microsoft’s) but I do realize they’ve set the bar for UI design. It, (along with honest criticism like Earl’s) gives the desktop Linux community something to shoot for. I think it’s getting there, it’s only a matter of time.

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Working Tablet + GIMP = :)

December 3, 2006

Back about a week ago, I posted about the trouble I was having getting my Wacom tablet to work correctly with the GIMP. It wasn’t moving over the full extents of the screen, and it wasn’t getting recognized as an extended input device in the GIMP (which lets you use pressure-sensitivity).

As you can see by the image above, I now have it working. But I almost forgot to post about getting it to work. Thanks to Donncha for sending me a comment on that previous post which reminded me. BTW there are some awesome photos on Donncha’s blog, you should check them out.

So here’s the story. I cleaned up my xorg.conf file so that any references to serial or tablet-pc based entries in the wacom sections of the file were deleted. I also uninstalled and reinstalled the wacom-tools package as well.

But I’m not sure which (if any) of those things were the problem. My other problem was (and is) is that restarting X after each modification didn’t seem to work properly. Normally (for the Ubuntu distro anyway) you hit Ctrl-Backspace to restart X. On my machine, this logs me out, returns me to the GDM login prompt as expected. But on re-logging in, it can never get back to the desktop. I end up stuck at a light blue screen with full mouse movement but no desktop to speak of. The only option left is to reboot.

So being the newbie that I am, I was making changes to my xorg.conf file and then logging out and logging back in. Apparently, this does NOT restart the Xserver which means any of the changes I had made were not ‘taking’.

The long and short of it is that I cleaned up the xorg.conf file, reinstalled the wacom-tools package and then the next morning when I started up the machine, the tablet was working fine. The Gimp recognized it and full pressure sensitivity was enabled.

Sorry there was no magical answer here. But I can say that there are several good threads on getting tablet devices to work. If you want to see what my current xorg.conf file looks like, I posted it right here in a message thread on ubuntuforums.org. It seems to work flawlessly for me right now so check it out if you’re having problems.

Note: I have a Wacom Graphire3 tablet, a miniature notebook sized MS mouse (for my daughter), and a normal sized mouse, all of which are USB( and all of which are always hooked up and all of which seem to work perfectly now). I’m running Ubuntu Edgy with Beryl installed. If you have a serial model or are using a different distribution or setup your mileage may vary.

Tablet Woes + GIMP = Frustration

November 28, 2006

I haven’t had a chance to edit many photos lately – too busy fooling around with Inkscape and trying to write a blog post every day in November I guess 😉

However I finally made some time and brought up the GIMP (the Linux equivalent to Photoshop for all intents and purposes). I quickly found out that my Graphire3 tablet wasn’t being recognized or at least recognized properly. I figured it was a result of my upgrade to Ubuntu Edgy Eft a while back or maybe my installation of Beryl threw my settings for a loop, and set about to correct the problem.

Well, it’s 3 days later and still no luck. I’ve read, re-read and re-re-read several message threads about the subject on ubuntuforums.org and I must have edited my xorg.conf file six ways from Sunday – and yet still nothing.

Actually, ‘nothing’ is not really the correct term. The pointer moves, but only over a limited rectangular portion of the screen. And to make matters worse, the device is not recognized as an ‘extended input device’ in the GIMP which means pressure sensitivity is not enabled. If you’ve ever used one of these tablets for photo editing, you’d know that pressure sensitivity is what makes it infinitely better than a mouse for photo editing.

Anyhoo, rest assured that I will fix the problem come hell or high water. And when I do I will undoubtedly post about it.