• (New) Adventures in Ubuntu

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    (New) Adventures in Ubuntu

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    (New) Adventures in Ubuntu

    Posted By Alastair Otter

    There was a time I was a Linux and free software evangelist. Over the past few years, however, work and life have conspired to make me a Windows user, albeit a reluctant one.

    Screenshot from 2015-01-07 18:31:08A few weeks ago I bought a new cheapie laptop (an Acer Aspire V11 Touch) to mess around on. It’s far from high-spec but looks good, has a decent touch screen and solid battery life. After a couple of days with Windows 8.1 (not bad, but not my thing) I wanted to install Ubuntu Linux on the Aspire. Which I did and in the main its been pretty painless.

    The touch screen worked straight out of the box (I wondered how well that would work) but there were a few other things that didn’t work exactly as expected:

    • Screen brightness keys didn’t work
      A quick search turned up this post and adding acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor to Grub sorted this out quick enough.
    • Shutdown from the top menu bar didn’t work and the system would appear to hang while shutting down 
      This was a little more challenging and I eventually opted for the ugly-but-effective option. I tried dozens of things to get shutdown/suspend to work properly and eventually happened upon this post. Right at the end is the seemingly odd advice to delete “quiet splash” from the Grub options. I did that and suddenly shutdown and suspend worked as expected, except that at startup and shutdown you also get a scrolling list of startup and shutdown messages. Effectively “quiet splash” hides the internal workings from the user but also seems to be causing the hanging shutdown. It’s not pretty but I’d rather have a laptop that suspends and shuts down properly than one that has a pretty splash screen but doesn’t.
    • Suspend didn’t work
      This is related to the shutdown issue above. Once I had the shutdown problem sorted, suspend worked as well.
    • Wireless card wasn’t recognised
      This was the one I was most worried because almost all Linux installs I’ve done have some sort of wireless problems. As expected the Aspire wireless connection didn’t work straight away. Running lspci showed that the Aspire had a Broadcom BCM43142 card which has a relatively easy fix. To get the Broadcom wireless device going I installed the bcmwl-kernel-source package as described here.

    Things I’m still working on:

    • Bluetooth seems a little flaky
      There are some issues with Bluetooth discovering devices but because I’m not a big Bluetooth user this hasn’t been a significant challenge. I’ll get to it later.


    12 March 2015: Suddenly yesterday I started having problems with the wifi connection on the Acer. If I was sitting really close to the access point it worked okay but the moment I left the room it would stumble and be unable to connect to URLs. And then it would drop the connection every few minutes. It would reconnecct each time but only for a few minutes and then wifi was off again. I plugged in a USB wifi dongle and tried that and it worked fine. But the built-in wifi remained flaky. So I presumed it was the Broadcom drivers so Googled a bit. One fix was to tun off the quality of service so the connection wouldn’t shut down when the signal dropped. (See details here). That kept the wifi connection on but it was still almost unusable. A little more reading and I found that many users had found that switching ipv6 to ignore in the connection settings on Ubuntu fixed the flaky connection. I did that an boom, everything was back to normal.

    Written by Alastair Otter

    Data visualisation & design, journalist, hacker.


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