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Fun with Ubuntu Linux | The Road to Freedom - The Journey Starts |The Road to Freedom - Base Camp | Ubuntu All Together - Sharing, Networking, Backup, Synchronisation and Encryption | Ubuntu on the Lookout - Browsing, Email, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks| Ubuntu on the Move | Ubuntu on the Take | Ubuntu making Music | Ubuntu Unity - Evolution or Revolution | The MSI Wind U100 Netbook for Global Communications and Computing
This page covers the MSI Wind U100 Netbook running under a dual booted system with Windows XP and Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx - the latest Long Term Support (LTS) version with three years support ahead. Lucid features full support for most Mobile Broadband USB sticks and Open Office 3.2, Firefox 3.6 and Thunderbird 3. We initially used Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04. Hardy Heron which was the last Long Term Support (LTS) version with still has support until April 2011 - its use on the Wind is covered for reference on a 'Legacy page on using the Wind with Hardy Heron'
Our experience is that everything works 'out of the box' with Lucid and higher although a couple of tweaks are currently needed to avoid premature hibernation if you unplug the power supply with the machine turned on (>= 10.04) and a Wind specific fix for 11.04 and higher (including 12.04) to avoid a hang up when suspending on battery.
We have recently upgraded our Wind U100s to Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal and Oneiric Ocelot 11.10 which has a new Desktop, initially designed for Netbooks and our experiences at Ubuntu Unity - Evolution or Revolution all come from the Winds so it is almost a part 2 of this article - the end result is good but the path is long and hard!
The MSI Wind U100 and Ubuntu Linux - the story starts
Waiting for the Wind - preparation and searching out information.
The First Breath of Wind - testing and basic installation of Ubuntu
With the Wind behind - rapid progress in adding programs
Light Wind - Tips and Tricks for a small screen under Ubuntu
Wind in the rigging - disk management - stopping the drive clicking and wear
Hard On The Wind - Taming the Sentelic Trackpad
Taking the Wind away - Internet Access via Bluetooth Connections to Mobile Phones and Windows Mobile devices and use of a Vodafone Mobile Broadband USB Modem
Secret Winds - Keeping data safe on the move using Truecrypt for disk encryption.
Second Wind - We add a second Wind U100
Going like the Wind - Upgrading to the new Long Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu - 10.04 Lucid Lynx. Prepare by Backing up your Home Folder then Upgrade to Lucid Lynx and finally follow the following
Tips and Tricks to get the best from the Lucid Lynx
Short of Wind - a fix for the 'Critical Power' anomaly when you unplug power from a machine running Lucid Lynx or higher whilst it is running.
Fix when running Oneiric
Wifi Problems specific to Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal and higher - there are a few new fixes needed with Wifi under 11.04
No Wind - Outstanding activities and snag list - now very short!
Before You Leave - we welcome comments and suggestions
We spent many months agonising over whether we should get a Netbook and which one. We wanted one which was light for traveling but powerful and versatile enough to replace the laptop and was largely self contained. We expect to largely run Linux but would prefer to also have a dual boot to Windows XP because of Pauline's teaching where we are not sure that everything will work under Ubuntu. The first Netbooks we saw were the original Asus eeePC 700, three were brought to Pete's First talk on the Transition to Linux given on the QE2 Linux and Open Source, A Real alternative to Windows ? Or, why settle for Windows when you can have the whole house for free .
The eeePC was an eye opener but was never going to be adequate for OU teaching these days although we had a Libretto 50CT with a similar size and lower resolution screen in use for many years - it still works fine with Windows 95. The Netbook is really intended to replace our Toshiba Portege 3440 which is already dual booted with XP and Ubuntu Dapper Drake but will not take any more upgrades and needs wifi cards, USB2 cards with power supplies, an external USB disk and Bluetooth dongles to work.
The choices came down to the Asus eee901 and the MSI Wind U100 with the Wind winning with a 80 or more Gbyte hard drive versus a smaller solid state drive overcoming the poor relative battery life and questions over the Wifi. We nearly bought a Wind clone, the Advent 4211 from PC World and have finally ordered a MSI Wind U100-222UK-WT120A from Ebuyer.com which is White and has a 120 Gbyte drive, 1 gbyte memory, Windows XP, Wifi (which card of the three is not known), webcam and Bluetooth for £299 plus £5.95 shipping. To make it a going concern it will also need a 12v power supply (£15) and possibly a larger battery. The following notes on the installation of Ubuntu are based on our Road to Freedom - A progressive migration from Windows to Ubuntu for Safety, Security and Savings in Home Computing
Whilst we were waiting for the MSI Wind U100 to come I did some homework and planning by doing some searches of the MsiWind.net wiki and Ubuntu forums and found several items which were of interest.
I found that the drive was likely to already be partitioned into three primary partitions with a 4 Gbyte FAT32 partition for system restore information, a 40 Gbyte partition for Windows and the remainder of 75 Gbytes being a NTFS partition which was not used. I planned to delete the big NTFS partition and make an extended partition to hold a FAT32 data partition, a Swap partition and two EXT3 partitions for the root file system and a separate /home partition.
There were several forum articles covering Wifi and it became clear that there are now several possible Wifi cards but the most likely one was one I used for drivers was a RTL8187SE WLAN card and I found precompiled drivers at http://boskastrona.ovh.org/index_en.html - I found that it was however better to set up the Wifi drivers from scratch and that is what I did on the second Wind. None of that is now needed as suppot is built in from Jaunty onwards.
The next step is to make a bootable USB stick to install Ubuntu and I used Unetbootin which seems to be the perfect way to install Ubuntu on a machine without a CD. You can either download to the machine and install or you can create a LiveUSB. I created a LiveUSB of Hardy Heron and tried it on the only machine which I have capable of booting from a USB stick and it behaved just the same. It looks as if it should be able to create a LiveUSB from an ISO of a LiveCD of other programs such as disk partitioners but I have not tried it yet. In fact I created two LiveUSBs because I made on for the partition editor Gparted as well.
Setting up Windows: The Wind U100 arrived two days earlier than we had expected from Ebuyer.com and we eagerly unpacked it and found from the label that it had the expected Realtech RTL8187SE wireless card installed. We turned it on and connected up via Wifi which needed our WEP key entered 26 characters twice! It had two DVDs so we did not need to make backup .iso images although the facilities are built in and we will probably do so at some point. I tried to work through as much as possible using what I have written in The Road to Freedom but much was not required as it was a brand new machine with nothing to back-up and I had already made the .iso using Unetbootin
I loaded the Avast! 4.8 free virus checker and a ZoneAlarm free firewall to give reasonable security. This took about 90 minutes by the time I had done all the reboots etc. I also loaded Firefox at this point so I had a realbrowser available rather than Internet Explorer.
And on to Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04.1: I then got a little ahead of myself and put in the Ubuntu LiveUSB and rebooted - you tap the F11 key whilst booting to access the boot menu and select the USB Stick then wait a few seconds for it to all stabilise before the return - in a few minutes Hardy Heron was up and running. The Wifi did not work and I had only prepared the driver for the latest version of the kernel so I could not check that but almost everything else seemed to work.
I needed to know about the partitioning so I used Gparted on the LiveUSB and got carried away again and deleted the larger NTFS partition and created an extended partition and a 30 Gbyte FAT32 partition within it for shared DATA. I did check everything still worked in Windows and gave the new partition the name DATA and changed the operating system partition name to WINDOWS.
I was now go to go back to the LiveUSB and start the install. I used manual disk partitioning to create a 3 Gbyte swap (3x the memory size) and two EXT3 partitions with mount points of / and /home. Everything went according to plan and at minute 175 from opening the box I had a full Ubuntu system up and running and just managed to double click the .deb file for the Wifi driver downloaded from http://boskastrona.ovh.org/index_en.html and give it the WEP password by minute 180 ( I may have taken 181 but I did not check the start to the second!)
The partitioning looks like this when seen latter in Gparted within the Ubuntu system:
We had made good progress so far so it was time to work through the configuration in The Road to Freedom . I set up the repositories. The Ubuntu software repository is organized into four "components", on the basis of the level of support Ubuntu can offer them, and whether or not they comply with Ubuntu's Free Software Philosophy. The components are called:
There are other sets of software which are held in repositories which can be used by Ubuntu but not supported by the Ubuntu team which can be added - we will add one called Medibuntu in due course. But first we need to enable some more of the 'official repositories' in readiness for some of the software I suggest you install.
We do this by System -> Administration -> Software Sources - You will be presented with 5 tabs
When you close you will be asked to download the updates and extra repository information. After you have done this you will probably find there are some updates to download showing in the top right panel. Click the icon and let them install. After a year of updates there were 281 updates totalling 320 Mbytes to install and a reboot was required as there was a kernel update included.
I then added the Medibuntu Repository which is a third-party repository containing many useful programs which are not true open source, which allow one to enable DVD playback and to add the codecs for MP3 playing and ripping etc. It can be included by way of a few quick commands in a terminal.
It is often much easier and quicker to use text input rather than a Graphical User Interface and even in Windows one has to resort to it for complex system work. A terminal is opened by Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal. The terminal is very basic, for example Ctrl C and Ctrl V do not work for cut and paste but unusually clicking the centre button of a three button mouse will paste. Up and down arrows scroll through the last commands used. Do not try to type any of the commands just cut and paste in turn from this web page and then hit enter. If they start with Sudo you will be asked to enter your password. Try it on the following which should be copied and pasted as a single line.
sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update
This will add the Medibuntu repository, import the Medibuntu GPG key and make the new packages available for installing using the Synaptic Package Manager access by System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager.
The Synaptic package manager is similar to Add/Remove but at a lower level and used more for adding services than main stream programs although it will do so just as well - we could have used it for Thunderbird we are going to be adding a number of library routines to for playing and ripping media files. The package manager is clever and every program in Ubuntu carries the information on its dependence on any other services and automatically downloads them, if required.
Open the Synaptic Package Manager by System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manage.
When the Synaptic Package Manager has opened use Search to find the package/program you want, click the box and click Mark for Installation each one. When they are all marked, click Apply. The following is the list I use when setting up a machine.
Medibuntu can not only be used to add music and video codecs but also to load commercial/proprietary programs which can not be made available directly in Ubuntu due to legal restrictions in some countries. Use the Synaptic Package Manager and Search for the program you want. I have googleearth on both of the Winds but the list of programs possible includes:
In most cases they will be added to your “Applications” menu.
Many programs and web sites these days are written on the assumption that you will have at least a 1024 x 800 screen whilst the Wind U100 has one 1024 x 600.
This screen mode can flicker if compiz is enabled. To fix that problem, install compizconfig-settings-manager by using the Synaptic Package Manager or opening up the Terminal application and typing:
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
Then, go to to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings manager (Advanced Desktop Effects Settings), click the "General Options" button and untick "Unredirect Full screen Windows".
Some versions of Ubuntu seem to do a lot of disk access resulting in a clicking noise on the Wind. This seems to be partly to do with the energy saving available from the drive and continual parking of the heads and partly that the swapping in and out is set too aggressively.
I played with both under Ubunty Hardy Heron and it gave some improvement possibly at the cost of power consumption. This seems to be less of a problem with Jaunty and Lucid - I have not changd the Power Management settings other than Swappiness so if you are using Lucid or higher I recommend you skip these changes.
Power Management: The first step is to make power management less aggressive. This one hopes has the following results:
To try the setting without rebooting run:
sudo hdparm -B 192 /dev/sda
To make a permanent change one needs to modify a setup file so open a terminal and type:
sudo gedit /etc/hdparm.conf
At the end of the file, paste the following:
hdparm -B 192 /dev/sda
The value in the above line can be any where from 1 - 254 unless you want to switch power management off completely when you should use 255 instead of 192. It will make the drive run slightly warmer and use slightly more power but probably better than mad head parking. I currently have 255 to switch power management off completely.
The changes to power management seem to be an important part of getting suspend to work.
Swap file management:
The second way to reduce disk usage is to reduce the use of the swap file. There is a parameter called swapiness which is normally reduced on netbooks using solid state memory which wears out faster than a hard drive! See Performance tuning with ''swappiness'' Swappiness controls the tendency of the kernel to move processes out of physical memory and on to the swap disk. As disks are much slower than RAM, this can lead to slower response times for system and applications if processes are too aggressively moved out of memory and wear on solid state disks.
Reducing the default value of swappiness will actually improve overall performance for a typical Ubuntu desktop installation. There is a consensus that a value of swappiness=10 is recommended for a desktop and 60 for a server.
To check the swappiness value
For a temporary change (lost on reboot) with a swappiness value of 10:
sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=10
To make a change permanent you must edit a configuration file:
sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf
Search for vm.swappiness and change its value as desired. If vm.swappiness does not exist, add it to the end of the file like so:
Save the file and reboot.
The Trackpad fitted to most of the MSI Wind U100s is from Sentelic and there are no dedicated drivers available within the kernel - it is in theory possible to take a driver avilable from Sentelic, recompile the kernel with a patch to include it and compile a control panel to give control over the pad but this is beyond most users and would have to be done every time a kernel update was available which would be a nightmare.
The Sentelic trackpad however offers most of the facilities normally expected and needed such as:
The main problems are:
The simplest way round random movements when entering text is to use an external mouse and toggling the touchpad off by Fn F3.
I have however tamed the touch pad by use of a simple utility called mouseemu which was initially written for use of single button mice on the Apple. Mouseemu enables one to:
Mouseemu can be installed by Sytem - Applications -> Synaptic Package Manager and Searching for Mouseemu
You will need to reboot before it becomes active and after changing any configuration.
It needs a file to be configured to enable the two features by
sudo gedit /etc/default/mouseemu
Remove the # in front of the SCROLL and TYPING_BLOCK entries
Set the delay before the tap becomes active in TYPING_BLOCK - I use 1000 for a 1 second block
Change the SCROLL value to 100 instead of 56 to use the AltGr key instead of Alt.
I used to prefer Super to Alt for scrolling but that is no longer usable with Unity.
I have now quite got to like the Sentelic touch pad when using the Wind on my lap but I prefer to also have a mouse available when I have the space to use one.
Bluetooth is an excellent way to send contacts and files between machines and also allows the modem in one device to be used by another. Before you can do this the various devices must be 'paired' - this means that you set up a 'PIN' on both to give a secure communication without anybody else being able to hijack your mobile. The other security feature is that once paired you stop your devices being 'discovered' by other peoples machines which are searching for devices with Bluetooth (BT) turned on. This all sounds a bit complex and it does take a little while the first time.
When a Bluetooth dongle is inserted or a built in Bluetooth device such as that on the MSI Wind is turned on a Bluetooth icon appears in the system area . The first activity is to pair the Phone or Mobile Device to the computer.
The way Bluetooth is paired varies a little between machines so here I will use one of our Windows Mobile 5 devices, an O2 XDA Executive as an example for pairing etc. On the XDA do Start -> Settings -> Connections tab -> Bluetooth -> Mode tab and tick both Turn On and Make Discoverable. Then go to the Devices tab and tap New Partnership to pair the first time. The XDA will scan for other devices which are 'Discoverable' and find the Wind and come back with its name (wind-ubuntu) and also any other devices in range. Tap the wind-ubuntu and you will be asked to enter a code ('PIN') and you then have to rush to the Wind where a message asking if you want to continue and enter a matching 'PIN' pops up. At any future time you can work down the same menus to the devices which are paired and click on one to set which functions on your machine you will allow the other machine to use from a list - on Windows Mobile machines this may only be Dial-up-Networking as file and contact transfers are covered under the Beam settings.
Under Lucid you have to turn Bluetooth by System -> Preferences -> Bluetooth . I had to mess arround the first time and tried the Receive Files Button at the bottom as the big button seemed to still leave it off without an icon in the top bar even when I cycled it on and off with Fn F11. After that it seemed to be fine and the icon came and went as expected and the following proceedures worked.
Once you have Paired the phone and the computer you need to find out several pieces of information to enable you to set up the connection to the modem in the phone so you can set up a configuration file - the ends result is you have what looks like a local device. You can scan the Bluetooth connections looking for Dial Up Network (DUN) connections (modems) in the phones by typing the following strings in a terminal, in this example both my T610 phone and the XDA have been paired and are with range.
sdptool search DUN
which gives an output like this for with both my T610 Phone and O2 XDA Exec on::
I will include both set up the phone and the XDA in the configuration file as rfcomm0 and rfcomm1 - one can add extra devices to the configuration file as shown below:
The following is the contents of the file which contains the configuration information for both the T610 and the XDA and it lives in /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf
. It is safest to make a copy then edit the existing 'default' rfcomm.conf file. The two important pieces of information are the addresses of the bluetooth devices and the channel numbers for the DUN connections
# RFCOMM configuration file /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf
# Bluetooth address of T610
# RFCOMM channel for the T610
# Description of the connection
comment "T610 Dial-up Networking via Bluetooth";
# Bluetooth address of XDA
# RFCOMM channel for the XDA
# Description of the connection
comment "XDA Dial-up Networking via Bluetooth";
Remember when testing that whenever you change a configuration file such as the above which you are going to use you must reboot the machine or restart the relevant sub-system, in this case by:
sudo /etc/init.d/bluetooth restart
The extra device appears in /dev so it can be accessed via the Network Manager, a terminal program such as wvdial but my preference is for the GNOME-PPP Dialler.
Gnome-PPP is a program to enable one to make Dial Up Network connections using any modems which are connected to the machine. GNOME PPP is installed via Add/Remove and is an excellent way to get a simple dial up connection which also puts a icon in the bar which can be used to monitor and stop the connection - first class for a normal simple modem set up which detected my serial modem automatically and connected me up. I do not see a way built in to handle multiple connection but it is so simple to change that may be not worth worrying.
The modems appear as devices in /dev and the exact name depends on the sort of modem. In the case of bluetooth link to phone they look like /dev/rfcommx where x is 0, 1, 2 etc and the configuration is in the /etc/rfcomm.conf file we made above.
Installing Gnome-PPP: Gnome-PPP is not installed automatically so install it with Add/Remove programs and searching for gnome-ppp.
User privileges: On some versions of Ubuntu you do not automatically have all the permissions to run Gnome-PPP as a user even with all the normal administration privileges - you need to be in the dip group to run it. If this is the case the log file which is available from the Log button will have a line complaining about permissions for the executable file /usr/sbin/pppd. The easiest way is to do System -> Administration -> Users and Groups then unlock with your password and highlight your user name and click Properties and on the User Privileges Tab tick Connect to Internet using a Modem.
The main configuration in Gnome-PPP is done by a GUI interface and is all fairly obvious if you are making a simple land-line Dial-Up connection. The default modem initialisation strings and other settings will almost certainly work, so only the initial screen needs the username, password and telephone number entered for a land-line modem. The only thing missing with GNOME-PPP is help. It uses its own configuration file $HOME/.wvdial.conf which it is reported can have additions despite the warnings not to modify by hand.
If, however, you want to make a GPRS connection via most mobile phones you need to set up the APN via an initialisation string option on the second tab of the Setup Screen, and then use a special code in place of the phone number. Using Vodafone UK PrePay on the T610 as an example the Initialisation string 3 is set to:
Init 3 AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","pp.vodafone.co.uk"
and the phone code used is
For other providers replace the pp.vodafone.co.uk with their APN (eg Vodafone UK Contract is internet, Vodafone UK Mobile Broadband is pp.internet, Guernsey Wave is pepper and Vodafone NZ is www.vodafone.net.nz)
In general the username and passwords are not checked but for most phones something needs to be present - check with your provider. I use web and web with vodafone. There are more details on my Global Communications and Computing page
Some other options need to be set for some mobile network cards and connections to prevent them timing out. These are not possible via the GUI interface and are taken from the the 'master' pppd set up file which is /etc/ppp/options. We can look at the current options which are set by:
sudo egrep -v '#|^ *$' /etc/ppp/options
It is desirable to make a backup before editing the /etc/ppp/options file so to make a copy and open a terminal:
sudo cp /etc/ppp/options /etc/ppp/options_bak
sudo gedit /etc/ppp/options>
I have made three changes to the file. The first two are essential for most GPRS connections and disable the sending and checking of the echo response sent to check the connection is alive - the echo is not implemented by most mobile service providers and the default result is that 4 echo response requests are sent at 30 second intervals and after the 4th failure to receive a response the connection is broken. If you are disconnected after 2 minutes that is the cause. The new values of 0 inhibit the sending and checking:
The third change is essential for the Vodafone PCMCIA Connect Card but does not impact other connections significantly so I do it routinely so I do not forget. It involves disabling negotiation of Van Jacobson style IP header compression by un-commenting
I have also tried modifying the /ect/ppp/options file to add an extra delay before connection as I was sometimes not getting a correct DNS delivered using Gnome-PPP with the Vodafone but it seems to have little benefit but you can try.
Note the information in the /etc/ppp/options file does not recommend that changes are made in this file. The documentation ( man pppd ) says that if there is a file ~/.ppprc it is used for user default options which could be used instead of modifying /etc/ppp/options - I have not tried that method as the simple way works for me and gives me a working system. I have the attitude that "if its not broken don't fix it"
Permissions: I have once had a problem after installing and uninstalling the vodafone connect software with gnome-ppp complaining about permissions which did not seem to be cured by the setting your user permissions as above - it seemed that the other software had modified something and gnome-ppp or more precisely the pppd daemon needed to be run as root. This was cured by setting the setuid attribute with:
sudo chmod u+s /usr/sbin/pppd
When an executable file has been given the setuid attribute, normal users on the system can execute this file and gain the privileges of the user who owns the file.
The writers of Firefox 3 have tried to be clever and automatically start Firefoz in the Offline Mode if there is no internet connection present. They have done that in Linux by checking if Network Manager has an open connection which is fine for the Ethernet and Wireless Network connections that are looked after by Network Manager. Unfortunately Network Manager does not know about Point to Point Protocol connections - that is dial up and other mobile connections using the PPP daemon. The result is that if you make a connection using Gnome-PPP Firefox switches into Offline Mode when it starts and it has to be switched back using File -> Work Offline. This is OK for the occasional connection but gets very tedious if you have mobile broadband in use all the time or have a old telephone dial up via a modem. This has been discussed at length and there is now an option to inhibit the feature but only deep in the configuration. The way to access it is by entering about:config in the address bar and then enter. This will bring up a warning screen about dragons being present so you have to take care - click Ok and then enter toolkit.networkmanager.disable into the filter which will reduce you down to a view of the required option which will be currently set to false. Right click -> Toggle - this will change the value to true and inhibit the check in network manager. Exit Firefox and when you next use it on a PPP connection it will no longer start up offline. For more details see The Mozillazine Article toolkit.networkmanager.disable
Vodafone now offer a package with a USB broadband stick preloaded with 1 Gbyte of UK data for £49 reduced to £39 for Xmas and now various options are even cheaper. Top ups are £15 for 1 Gbyte. The stick I received even has a micro SD reader built-in. It is branded as a Vodafone K3565 which is detected as a Huawei E220. It handles GPRS, 3g and the latest HSDPA services providing 3.6 Mbaud rates. The MSI Wind has no PCMCIA slot so this is perfect for round the UK and I think I have persuaded Vodafone to unlock it for roaming with different Vodafone SIM cards. The service includes reception of texts but not sending.
The Vodafone Group have written some support software for linux - it is not officially supported but is an Open Source development which can be used for many USB 3G sticks and service providers. I covered its use in Ubuntu Linux on the Move but I found that good old fashioned gnome-ppp was all that was needed and much faster to connect so I have not installed it on the second Wind when I found I had never used it for real connections!
Lucid have a number of improvements over Hardy when it comes to USB Broadband USB sticks in general: Firstly the dual devices are correctly handled in the kernel and identified as Broadband modems however many times they are plugged in and out and Secondly the Network Manager has been extended considerably and handles Mobile Broadband connections explicitely so you do not need Gnome-PPP or the Vodafone Mobile Connect software although you may choose to use them. Lucid handles an increased number of USB sticks including the Vodafone K3565-Z. However if you buy a new stick without full support Gnome-PPP is a life-saver.
Gnome-ppp set up for Vodafone Mobile Broadband: When you set up Gnome-ppp the only new information needed for vodafone PAYG Broadband is the port used and the following information:
The APN is unusual as vodafone usually use pp.vodafone.co.uk for PAYG and internet for contract but I got it from the default under Windows and only that seemed to work when I tested in a normal phone as well as in the dongle. I just added an init string to set up the default APN (CID 1) and it also worked immediately. I use the following init strings:
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Init3 = AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","pp.internet"
I am not sure that the init2 is needed - it is the standard set up for a fax modem as used through a mobile phone and you could replace it by ATZ which is a modem reset..
The 'number to dial' is set to be *99# or *99***1# and I use stupid mode to get a quick connection.
I have looked at the codes sent by vmc and tried the codes there to set GPRS prefered as an init code. It does not seem very effective but for completeness the codes I have extracted from the vmc source are:
For GPRSONLY set
For 3GONLY set
For GPRSPREF set
For 3GPREF set
If you have an unsupported modem then try the small program provided by vodafone called usb_modeswitch to switch between CD boot mode and Modem mode. You can check if the devices are correct with ls -al /dev/ttyU*.
I have not found a way to check ones credit under linux as the linux vmc software does not support it - if the software is improved to do so I will install it. Currently credit checking and Topup via a vouchure is available under the Windows VMC or by telephone and credit card however 1 Gbyte should last a long time!
I have installed the Network Monitor Applet in the taskbar as well as the network manager as it gives an indication of the total data use. With Mobile Broadband Connections initiated using the Network Manager the Network Monitor seems to provide the cumulative use since the last restart. I had to install Network Monitor using the Synaptic Package Manager as it is not available by default under Lucid then add it to the Panel. I also have a command line string to monitor the use over the last week which is in Monitoring Data Transfer which is essential if you need to keep a tight control whilst abroad!
I was not sure whether to include this under my write up of the Wind but if one is running an ultaportable computer like the Wind it becomes even more important to have the ability to encrypt important data you carry with you. I have always had some encryption and initially used PGP and PGPdisk under Windows but switched a couple of years ago to TrueCrypt - Free Open-Source On-The-Fly Disk Encryption Software which runs under both Windows and Linux some time ago - I was attracted because it:
It creates a Virtual Disk with the contents encrypted into a single file or onto a disk partition or removable media such as a USB stick. In fact it does it rather better than PGPDisk in many ways and in the Windows version it has all the same automatic demount etc options. The encryption is all on the fly so you have a file, you mount it as a disk and from then on it is used just like a real disk and everything is decrypted and re-encrypted invisibly in real time. The virtual Drive is unmounted automatically at close down and one should have closed all the open documents using the Virtual Drive by that point just like when you shut down normally. The advantage is that you never have the files copied onto a real disk so there are no shadows or temporary files left behind and one does not have to do a secure delete. I have loaded it onto two of my Windows systems.
Truecrypt obviously installs deep into the operating system in order to encrypt decrypt invisibly on the fly. The early versions were specific to a Linux Kernel and had to be recompiled/installed every time a Kernel was updated. Fortunately TrueCrypt has now reached version 6 which can be downloaded as a .deb file for both 32 and 64 bit versions of Ubuntu – make sure you get the correct version. The .deb is packed into a compressed file .tar.gz just double click truecrypt-6.x-ubuntu-x86.tar.gz to open the archive and drag the folder to the desktop, double click it then click 'Run in Terminal' to run the installer script.
Truecrypthas a GUI interface almost identical to that in Windows. It opens virtual disks which are placed on the desktop. Making new volumes (encrypted containers) is trivial – just use the wizard. This is now a very refined product under Linux.
The only feature I have found is that one has to have administrative privileges to mount ones volumes. This means that one is asked for ones administrative password on occasions as well as the volume password. There is a way round this by providing additional 'rights' specific to just this activity to a user (or group) by additions to the sudoer file. There is information on the Sudoers file and editing it at:
Because sudo is such a powerful program you must take care not to put anything formatted incorrectly in the file. To prevent any incorrect formatting getting into the file you should edit it using the command visudo run as root or by using sudo ( sudo visudo ). From Ubuntu 8.04 the default editor for visudo has changed to vi, a terminal editor, which is an incomprehensible at least to those used to Windows. To change this behaviour we can edit the users setup file:
Add the lines to use gedit as the standard GUI editor and nano as a terminal editor:
# Addition to standard file to select visual and terminal editors
[ $DISPLAY ] && \
export VISUAL="gedit" || \
Now you can launch visudo in a terminal with the standard editor gedit by:
sudo -E visudo
There are now two ways to proceed, if you have a lot of users then it is worth creating a group for truecrypt, changing truecrypt to be a member of that group and adding all the users that need truecrypt to that group. You then use sudoer to giving group members the 'rights' to use it without a password. See:
If you only have one or two users then it is easier to give them individual rights by adding a line(s) to the configuration file by launching visudo in a terminal into the standard editor gedit by:
sudo -E visudo
USERNAME ALL = (root) NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/truecrypt
%truecrypt ALL = (root) NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/truecrypt
Save and exit - if there are errors there will be a message and a request what to do in the terminal.
I have used it both the simple way and by creating a group called truecrypt. In the case of the Wind where I have two users I created a a new group truecrypt using System -> Administration -> Users and Groups and Truecrypt now runs under all both users without continual prompts for passwords. However I had to use the brute force approach under Lucidand give alll users the privilege.
The first Wind was so successful that we have now purchased a second one from Lambda-Tek for £278 including next day delivery.
Files modified on Second Wind - In order to help me set up future mahines and also to show how little 'configuration' involving a terminal is needed I am going to list the files actually changed from their defaults and sumarise the changes and why they took place. This list is also useful if you do a distribution upgrade with a fresh install.
None of the above are essential for basic operation and several are specific to programs or facilities you may chose not to use such as bluetooth phones, vodafone data cards, truecrypt disk encryption and Unison synchronisation over a secure network. In summary it is possible to get by without having to use a terminal for several weeks or even months although in the long term you would restrict yourself.
The major changes that have come in since Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 are:
There are many changes under the hood (hal and pulse audio to name a couple) and some have had unexpected results on some systems - it is an essential development which started with Karmic Koala where not everything went smootly - it does mean that you should check out carefully with a LiveCD version before upgrading. If you are happy with what you have then it is prudent to stay with it until you have had a chance to do some comprehensive web searches for peoples experiences with your own machine and also to read the Ubuntu Release notes with great care. That said you will find that the improvements are well worth getting used to a few changes.
There are two stages to any upgrade, the first is to back up everything you have. If you do a 'fresh install of the system you can then use the backup of you 'home folder' /home/username to restore every setting ready for the software when you reinstall it.
There is also a very powerful command line archiving tool round which many of the GUI tools are based which should work on most Linux Distributions. In many circumstances it is best to access this directly to backup your system. The resulting files can also be accessed (or created) by the archive manager accessed by right clicking on a .tgz .tar.gz or .tar.bz2 file. The following commands will back up your home folder /home/yourusername if you change pcurtis to yourusername - all other programs must be closed.
In a terminal type:
sudo tar cvpPzf "/media/WD Passport/mybackup.tgz" /home/pcurtis/ --exclude=/home/*/mybackup.tgz --exclude=/home/*/.gvfs
This is a single line if you cut and paste. The options cvpzf are: create archive, verbose mode (leave this out after the first time) , retain permissions, -P do not strip leading backslash, gzip archive and file output. Then follows the name of the file to be created, mybackup.tgz which in this example is on an external USB drive called 'WD Passport' - the backup name should include the date for easy reference. Next is the directory to back up, in this case /home/pcurtis). Next are the objects which need to be excluded - the most important of these is your back up file if it is in your /home area (so not needed in this case) or it would be recursive! It also excludes the folders (.gvfs) which is used dynamically by a file mounting system and is locked which stops tar from completing. The problems with files which are in use can be removed by creating another user and doing the backup from that user - overall that is a cleaner way to work.
The backup process is slow (15 mins plus) and the file over a gbyte for the simplest system. After it is complete the file should be moved to a safe location, preferably a DVD if you did not use an external device. If you want to do a higher compression method the command "tar cvpjf mybackup.tar.bz2" can be used in place of "tar cvpzf mybackup.tgz". This will use bzip2 to do the compressing - j option. This method will take longer but gives a smaller file.
You can access parts of the archive using the GUI Archive Manager by right clicking on the .tgz file - again slow on such a large archive. A backup is most useful if you can effectively restore your entire system or data. This can be again done by a few commands but do not try this for fun as it will overwrite the entire part of the Ubuntu file system we archived, thus restoring the older image that we took.The following assumes the backup image is in the root directory of an external drive called 'WD Passport' :
sudo tar xvpfz "/media/WD Passport/mybackup.tgz" -C /
The restoration uses the options - extract, verbose, retain permissions, from file and gzip. This will take a while because all your files will be overwritten with the versions from the image you previously backed up. The "-C / ensures that the directory is Changed to the root so the files are restore to the original locations.
If the old system is still present note that it only overwrites files, it does not deleted files from the old version which are no longer needed.
Warning: when you want to delete the archive file then you will find it is owned by root so make sure you delete it in a terminal - if you use a root browser then it will go into a root Deleted Items which you can not easily empty so it takes up disk space for ever more. If this happens then read http://www.ubuntugeek.com/empty-ubuntu-gnome-trash-from-the-command-line.html and/or load the trash-cli command line trash package using the Synaptic Package Manager and type.
The above backup of ones home folder(s) is all in preparation for a distribution upgrade. In theory this is possible without lose of any of your files or configuration - in practice I and others have had some problems especially if you have loaded any addition software via extra repositories or directly via .deb files as the automated update is very good but can not cover every contingency. You should also use the procedure for backing up your home folder if you intend to try the automated system in the Synaptic Package Manager then you have the choice of doing a full reinstall if it is not what you expect. Distribution upgrades only work for a single change of version or to the next Long Term Support version so if you have skipped versions you either need to do a succession of updates or a full system install.
The approach when you do a full install of the system varies a little depending on whether you have created or installed with your home folder /home on a dedicated partition. If you have a separate home partition you should still back it up as above but hopefully you will not need it as you can use the advanced option when the installer gets to the partitioning stage and edit the existing partitions so the mount points are as before and make sure you only format the root partition - this should leave your /home partition intact for when you restart with the new distribution which will find all your old settings for applications even if you have to reload them.
If you do not have a separate /home partition already this is the time to consider generating one and there are full instructions at Moving a Home Folder to a dedicated Partition (Expert level) on you can create one during the partitioning stage of the installation of the new Distribution to make life easy for the future and then use you backup from above to reload it.
My standard procedure splits into a number of parts which I use on all my machines:
Now when I need to rebuild the system or come to do clean install of a new distribution like Lucid Lynx I can:
You should now be back to where you were.
I have used the same basic proceedure to change partition sizes, add a partition for the /home directory, upgrade from Hardy to Jaunty, Jaunty to Lucid, Lucid to Natty and even to move a complete 'user' from a netbook to a laptop all in one operation.
Make sure you know which partitions are used for the various mount points before you start. Usually it is obvious from the sizes and file system types but if you are unsure then running blkid in a terminal is also a good way to find out – typical output (on Lucid) looks like:
/dev/sda1: LABEL="WINRE" UUID="80AE-9D55" TYPE="vfat"
/dev/sda2: LABEL="WINDOWS" UUID="F6EC309DEC305A57" TYPE="ntfs"
/dev/sda5: LABEL="DATA" UUID="49D3-6030" TYPE="vfat"
/dev/sda6: UUID="8993fcc3-6a5a-4f94-9e6a-c77f5091c1ad" TYPE="swap"
/dev/sda7: UUID="50fca34f-45d2-4231-8663-71ba99fc756f" SEC_TYPE="ext2" TYPE="ext3"
/dev/sda8: UUID="e31b581a-85fa-4681-bf11-aebb9a9656cd" SEC_TYPE="ext2" TYPE="ext3"
/dev/sdb1: SEC_TYPE="msdos" UUID="3934-3935" TYPE="vfat"
pcurtis@vortex-ubuntu:~$ gedit /etc/fstab
combined with looking at your existing file system table (red bits of both) which is /etc/fstab which on my system looks (under Lucid) like:
all should be clear!
Lucid has chosen to move the buttons to the left as in Apple rather than the right. To restore theusual placement then in a terminal do
and follow apps -> metacity -> general and change the button_layout value to menu:minimize,maximize,close
I do not like the very dark Ambience theme on the Wind and prefer a blue one but I found many of the themes that were in previous versions had been lost. I found many can be loaded using the Snaptic Package Manager or apt and this terminal command will load a lot of useful ones at the expense of 50Mbytes of disk space
sudo apt-get install gnome-themes gnome-themes-extras gnome-themes-more humanity-icon-theme tango-icon-theme tango-icon-theme-extras human-theme tango-icon-theme-common tangerine-icon-theme
Note: The above is a single line when you come to cut and paste into a terminal
The defaults seem to have been changed and the screen has been blanking after about 10 minutes idle time which is tedious if on mains but what is worse is that it needs a password to log back in again. These settings are controlled by several mechanisms and settings and are not easy to fathom out. Firstly one should try via System -> Preferences -> Screensaver and System -> Preferences -> Power Manager and one should be able to set the screensaver to blank the screen after 2 hours and not request a password and by clicking at the bottom you can also reach the power manager and set suitably long times there as well - this seems to have worked for me.
If this does not do all you want there are more settings accessable via a terminal and gconf-editor -> apps - gnome-power-manager and gnome-screensaver. Some of these will be overwritten if you latter use the Preferences route. Note these settings as there is no undo or reset to defaults available. The sections of interest have names like lock and timeout. There is also a box to use the lock setting from the screensaver for other choices on presenting a login box.
The Java now used by default is the Open Source rather than Sun Version which is now only in the partner Repository which has to be enabled. The Open Source plugin is called IcedTea or something like that. I have installed the 'proper' Sun Java but had difficulty in making it the default as the proceedures I used earlier give lots of warnings but still seemed to work and the Sun java seemed to turn up. There is a test page at: http://www.java.com/en/download/help/testvm.xml to check.
First I have modified my script to load the Sun java before ubuntu-restricted-extras which loads the Open Source equivalent.
Having installed Sun Java 6 one must now make changes so it is used by default.
First check for which version you are using by opening a terminal and doingjava -version
Now see what others are present,update-java-alternatives -l
I found the correct one was loaded but not the default. So if you have a Sun Java loaded then select it by name, for examplesudo update-java-alternatives -s java-6-sun
This gave a series of comments as not all the facilities could be replaced but it did seem to have changed the Firefox plugin correctly
I have since found a better option
sudo update-alternatives --config java
This provided the following output
Selection Path Priority Status
0 /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/jre/bin/java 1061 auto mode
1 /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk/jre/bin/java 1061 manual mode
* 2 /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun/jre/bin/java 63 manual mode
Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:
I have not used it for real yet but it looks a very easy way to choose.
Sun Java is no longer in the official repositories for Oeneric but it is available from a PPA so it can be installed by
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ferramroberto/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin
or you can install the latest OpenJDK Java 7 by
sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jre
The WineHQ web site cautions that the 1.3 packages are beta packages. This, they say, means they will periodically suffer from regressions, and as a result an update may break functionality in Wine. If the stable 1.2 Wine version works for you, then you may not want to use these beta packages. Ubuntu Natty+ also offers 1.3 but these will be better tested but slightly earlier versions. I want to use the latest versions to see if the problems of compatibility with Unity get fixed.
Run the following in a terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wine1.3
It seems that the battery life of many laptops and netbooks has shortened because of a power issue starting with version 2.6.38 which hasn't been fixed yet in the 3.0.x kernels. I don't know if the kernel power bug effects the MSI Wind U100, but there are reports that a program called Jupiter significantly increases laptop and netbook battery life. Install Jupiter using the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/jupiter
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install jupiter
When it is installed run it once and from then a control will appear in the Application Indicator area allowing you to select power saving modes - these seeem to give me up to an additional 10% battery life under Oneiric.
This has a separate section as it is more important than the other tips and tricks.
The MSI Wind and many other netbooks and laptops have a very large power surge shown after unplugging and plugging in the power adapter. This is typically 700 watts and is enough to trip the 'critical power' shutdown if it is calculated on time remaining. The symptom can be reproduced if you unplug the power adapter with machine on - you will get a critical power message and the machine will then hibernate which is a triffle annoying if the battery is full.
The 'critical power' criteria can be set to use the battery charge remaining instead and there is a setting in the gnome-power-manager to do that but it is not accessible from the normal GUI. You need to use a terminal and run
The Configuration Editor can also be accessed by enabling it in Applications - it is very powerful and you can easily make a system unusable so it is hidden by default. To enable it Right Click on Applications -> Edit Menus -> System Tools and tick the box beside Configuration Editor. It will now be available under Applications -> System Tools -> Configuration Editor.
In Configuration Editor -> apps -> gnome-power-manager -> general and untick 'use_time_for_policy'
It seems that a settling time was used in Hardy and Jaunty which is not applied in Lucid. The change should be a permanent fix for each user - it may need to be reapplied for other users.
In order to work around this issue in Oneiric, you can issue the following command:
gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power 'use-time-for- policy' 'false'
You can alternatively do the following:
sudo apt-get install dconf-tools
Navigate to the 'org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.power' section and Uncheck 'use-time-for-policy'
There are at least two different Wifi modules fitted to the MSI Wind U100. The Realtek RTL8187SE and the RT2700. These both have problems under Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal and the solutions are slightly different. The easest way is to list the PCI devices to see which module is plugged in by, in a terminal, doing:
The Wireless card is usually near the bottom of the list.
This is quite a serious problem and did not appear initially with Natty but came after some upgrades. When one resumed on battery or even after a temporay disconnection my machine would start up very slowly and eventually freeze completely - judging by the fan some program was working flat out. This problem is common to a number of machines and has been reported in a long thread at http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1596545&page=7 where many solutions have been proposed and few work on many machines. A solution for the Wind U100 is to completely remove the Wifi module for the r8187se device before suspending and reloading it after a resume. This seems to work and indicates it is the Wifi module giving the problem. You need to edit a file to do this - on my machine I added a file /etc/pm/config.d/unload_module containing the single line.
SUSPEND_MODULES="r8187se"The easy way to do this is to run the file manager as root by
gksudo nautilus /etc/pm/config.d
Now you can right click to create the file unload_module then double click to open gedit and copy in the line SUSPEND_MODULES="r8187se"
I then saved and closed it and then used a right click to properties -> permissions to make the file executable
After this everything seems to work.
Some Wind U100s have a different Wifi module to mine and one of my readers has informed me that it also required a couple of tweaks when running under Natty Narwhal 11.04. He gave me this link which covers what is needed. I obviously have not been able to check this myself but Ricky found it resolved the problem of unreliable Wifi for him. The problem is due to multiple drivers being loaded for several RT 2xxxx cards and is not specific to Ubuntu 11.04 or the Wind so it may well be fixed shortly. The suspend/resume problem with Wifi also seems common to many machines using these modules.
Overall the Wind has been very easy to set up and seems to be excellent under Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04.1 and almost perfect under Jaunty Jackalope but I would not like anyone to think that every problem has been solved.
I am therefore keeping this area for an account of any issues and solutions if and when we find them.
We would be very pleased if visitors could spare a little time to give me some feedback - it is the only way I know who has visited, if it is useful and how I should develop it's content and the techniques used. I would be delighted if you could send comments or just let us know you have visited by Sending a quick Message to us.
Fun with Ubuntu Linux | The Road to Freedom - The Journey Starts |The Road to Freedom - Base Camp | Ubuntu All Together - Sharing, Networking, Backup, Synchronisation and Encryption | Ubuntu on the Lookout - Browsing, Email, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks| Ubuntu on the Move | Ubuntu on the Take | Ubuntu making Music | Ubuntu Unity - Evolution or Revolution | The MSI Wind U100 Netbook for Global Communications and Computing
| Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Most recent significant revision: 21 st, October 2011