Computers & Software

Further Adventures with OpenSuSE 11.2, Ubuntu 9.10 and Windows 7

OpenSuSE 11.2 is so pretty on my desktop on SuperSluggo, that I can’t bear to part with it. Unfortunately there is a bunch of stuff that doesn’t work. I got DVD playback to work, but unfortunately Amarok either crashes or refuses to play Mp3 files, depending on which repositories I use to load required files. The Packman repository seems to fix DVDs, but breaks Amarok. Kaffeine though plays Mp3 files, go figure! More critically, I can’t synchronize my Treo phone/PDA anymore. KPilot freezes at the configuration screen. KPilot was always funky anyway. I had somehow gotten it to work consistently in OpenSuSE 10.3 with KDE 3.5, even though to do this I had to push the sync button on my phone within seconds of starting the program. After each sync, KPilot would crash, but at least it worked. Now I have to rejigger my GTD type activities. I could reboot to Windows, where Treos sync without trouble, but what a pain! I then thought I would use Xen in OpenSuSE to virtualize Windows. I always wanted to do that. But, no X, no graphics after doing that — apparently NVidia drivers aren’t supported. Checking the forums, someone recommended downgrading my graphics card. That’s crazy! So stuck I am.

I couldn’t get my Panasonic Toughbook laptop (vintage 2003) to upgrade at all to 11.2 from 11.1. I already mentioned this in my last post on this subject. After much gnashing of teeth, I finally said the hell with SuSE and installed Ubuntu 9.10. During installation I was able to reformat the root directory but kept my /home directory (which I had previously mounted on a separate partition — turns out that was a good idea!). Everything painless so far. Dual-booting with Windows XP was preserved. I kind of like it.

Finally, Windows 7. My experience with 7 is close to nil, but my son recently purchased a computer that came with it.  He installed a game, Mass Effect. When he ran the game, it froze during configuration, and the Windows “Houston we have a problem” equivalent screen came up. I noted the expected “Windows is searching for a solution to the problem” dialog, but ignored it. In Windows Vista I had never seen this dialog actually come up with a solution. I was shocked to see a few moments later a balloon show up on the taskbar stating Windows had indeed found a solution to the problem of Mass Effect not running. We clicked it, a dialog appeared saying there was an update, and click here to get it. Lo and behold, the update downloaded, then installed itself, and the game actually worked!!! Of course there had to be one little glitch in the perfection of all this. The familiar dialog box saying something to the effect that the program had not installed correctly and whether to reinstall with compatibility mode or ignore appeared. I wasn’t sure which program it was referring too (the original install or the update) but we safely ignored it, and everything worked. Surprising.

The other thing I noted in the 10 minutes of seeing the OS for the first time was that the dreaded UAC gray screen of delay did not automatically show up whenever I clicked a button with the 4 colored shield on it (i.e. when an action required escalation to administrator priviledges). Now it’s possible that UAC was disabled in this machine (or is it disabled by default in Win 7?), but I kind of hoped it don’t fire off because the action I was doing, which was simply looking at the devices installed on the computer, did not actually change any settings and therefore really didn’t need permission from myself to proceed. Maybe I am giving Microsoft too much credit, but I do remember reading that UAC (User Access Control, see a few posts back) had been eased up a little in 7. If so, nice work.

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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