Archive for the ‘Ubuntu’ Category

Compiz Fusion and Dell Inspiron 700m with Intel 855GM Video Chipset

June 23, 2011 4 comments

The Dell Inspiron 700m is a mid 2000’s vintage laptop with a Pentium M 1.6Ghz CPU and an Intel 855GM video adapter. While antiquated by today’s standards I have one as a spare and I find it still works reasonably well for basic web surfing and word processing. One downside with the age of the hardware is that the Intel graphics adapter is not supported for many graphics capabilities of modern OS’s such as Aero with Windows Vista/7. For me Windows 7 is not very pretty without Aero.

However, with a few minor issues I have found that the 700m is capable of supporting 3D acceleration and Compiz Fusion under Linux. For many laptops there have been issues with the Intel 855 adapter and the current development of the Intel graphics driver on Linux. As a result with Linux distros such as Ubuntu 10.04/10.10 the intel driver is not used by default and the fbdev driver is loaded instead. See the Ubuntu wiki for details on these issues and some possible resolutions:

In the case of the Inspiron 700m I have found that these workarounds were not needed with several Linux distributions. In particular, Fedora 14 seems to load the Intel driver and Compiz can be enabled without any tweaking after performing a standard GNOME based desktop install. One caveat is that I have not tested Fedora extensively, so there may be issues still that I am not aware of.

In addition, Ubuntu 10.10 is capable of Compiz desktop effects on the 700m. However, it will not work immediately after the initial GNOME desktop install. Here are the steps I needed to get Compiz working on Ubuntu 10.10:

Run a full system update. At the time of this writing the the system is updated to Linux kernel version 2.6.35-28 and the Intel driver (xserver-xorg-video-intel) version is 2:2.12.0-1. When completed reboot the system.

Create an xorg.conf file. By default this is not present on Ubuntu. However, it seems to be necessary for Compiz desktop effects to activate successfully even though no modifications to the file are necessary. To make the xorg.conf:

At the GNOME desktop press Ctrl-Alt-F1.

Login with your standard user account.

Shutdown the display manager, enter the user password again when prompted:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

Run X with configure switch to create the xorg.conf file:

sudo X -configure

Now copy the the X11 directory:

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Now reboot the system:

sudo reboot

After the reboot log back in and go to System > Preferences > Appearance, Visual Effects tab and choose Normal or Extra. Hopefully your Compiz effects should activate.

One issue I have seen is that there are some small artifacts on the window borders of inactivate windows occasionally inside GNOME. I have found that under the XFCE desktop environment these visual defects are not present. I have not tried using Emerald as the window decorator so perhaps that could solve the issue as well.

At the moment I have not found any way to get Compiz to work with the Intel 855GM under Ubuntu 11.04. It is my understanding that the version of Compiz in Ubuntu 11.04 requires OpenGL 1.4 and the Intel 855GM is only capable of OpenGL 1.3. I have tried downgrading the Compiz version on Ubuntu 11.04 but I was still not able to get compositing to work correctly, all kinds of visually artifacts would appear. Please note that this will also disable the Unity interface. If you’d like to give the downgrade a try, please see this guide:

Good luck with your Compiz adventure!

Categories: Linux, Ubuntu Tags: ,

Configure Automount/Autofs on Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Linux

March 21, 2011 1 comment

Automount/autofs is a Linux daemon which allows for behind the scenes mounting and unmounting of NFS exported directories.  Basically with autofs NFS shares will be automatically mounted when a user or system attempts to access their resources and disconnected after a period of inactivity.  This minimizes the number of active NFS mounts and is generally transparent to users.

First we’ll install autofs and include the NFS client:

# sudo apt-get -y install autofs nfs-common

Now we need to define autofs maps, which are basically configuration files which will tell autofs what types of NFS mounts to define.  With autofs there are two types of maps, direct and indirect.  With direct maps we define a list of filesystems to mount that will not share a common higher level directory on the client.  With indirect maps they share a common directory hierarchy, and a bit less overhead is required.  The advantage with direct maps is that if the user runs a common such as “ls” on the directory structure above the directory will show up, whereas with indirect maps they have to actually access the contents of the directory itself.  This can cause some confusion for users because running “ls” on a directory containing indirect mounts will not show the autofs directories until after the contents within have been accessed.  Indirect maps may also not be available by browsing the directory structure with a GUI file manager, you’ll need to specifically type in the path to get to it.  In this example I’ll show the use of both types of maps.

Master Map

First we need to define a master map, which basically will tell us what indirect/direct maps we want to use and the appropriate config files to read.  Edit the “auto.master” file and append this content:

# sudo vi /etc/auto.master

# directory    map
/server1       /etc/auto.server1
/-             /etc/

The first entry is an indirect map, all of the mounts will be created under /server1 directory and the configuration will be read from “auto.server1”.  With direct maps we use a special character “/-” and will read the config from “”.

Indirect Maps

Time to set up our indirect maps:

# sudo vi /etc/auto.server1

apps        -ro server1:/nfs/apps
files       -fstype=nfs4 server1:/nfs/files

The first column represents the subdirectory to be created under “/server1”.  The second shows the host and NFS export, with apps mounted as read only.  Notice with files that we specify NFSv4, obviously the NFS share must be compatible with NFSv4.  Not specifying an “fstype” should revert autofs to using NFSv3.

Direct Maps

Now we’ll do a direct map:

# sudo vi /etc/

/mnt/data     server1:/nfs/data

Setting up a direct map is basically like configuring an NFS mount in the “/etc/fstab” file.  Include the full directory name from /, and include the host and NFS export names.  The options that we used with the indirect maps above can also be used on direct map mounts if desired.

While I don’t believe it is explicitly required, I have had difficulty accessing NFS shares unless the directory for the direct map is created manually before running autofs:

# sudo mkdir /mnt/data

Now we need to configure automount/autofs to start when the system starts:

# sudo update-rc.d autofs defaults

I am using the “update-rc.d” command, which has very similar functionality to the “chkconfig” utility in the Red Hat world.  It will create links in the various runlevel directories to the daemon’s initialization script.  Autofs is the daemon name, and using the defaults options tells the system to start autofs in runlevel 2-5, and stop in 0, 1, and 6.  Most of the startup runlevels are not used with Debian/Ubuntu, runlevel 2 is the one that matters most to us.

Now restart the autofs daemon to pickup the new configuration:

# sudo service autofs restart

Browse to the newly established autofs mounts or type in the full path where you mounted the NFS export if using indirect maps.  The files on your NFS host should now be available on your client!

Categories: Linux, NFS, Ubuntu Tags: , ,