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Table of Contents

My life with Ubuntu

I try to document my experiences with Ubuntu Linux.

Ubuntu Linux 6.10: Edgy Eft (AMD64)

(edgy) The Hardware

While I haven't listed my hardware in previous Ubuntu coverages, I do so this time since it's not a good old 32-bit but rather a 64-bit architecture:

Some further notes on the hardware:

(edgy) Installation, basic packages and graphics drivers

There's nothing to mention on the installation procedure, worked just fine. I used the amd64-alternate-install CD (since the alternate install seems to be more stable than the desktop CD, and the AMD64 deemed the obvious choice).
To get a decent system, I installed the following packages (with the according dependencies that are automatically selected, of course).

Some tools...

I installed the following packages and there dependencies to enhance my system according to my needs:

nVidia graphics drivers...

Install nVidia's graphics drivers (without them I couldn't select the 1680x1050 resolution in GNOME):

Local apt mirror...

I changed my /etc/apt/sources.list to a local mirror (improving speed for me and saving bandwith for everyone else). Please choose a mirror close to your location from ubuntu.com > Download.

Security upgrades...

Install all the security upgrades using the upgrade notification icon in the panel.
Next, reboot the machine.

Remove old kernel...

Since the security upgrade brings a more up to date kernel (version 2.6.17-11) and the machine has been rebooted into this (run "$ uname -a" to make sure), get rid of the old kernel by running the following (in one line):

Restricted formats...

Following guidelines at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats, I installed some packages to be able to play most every multimedia format out there.
TODO: Except for WMV and QuickTime - a topic I'll have to get back at a later time.

Plus manually downloaded and installed libdvdcss2:

A nice thing about this setup is that it integrates nicely with the default multimedia player "totem". However, I'm not sure yet if it really plays movies well -- they seem not to play smoothly somehow.
Add-on: I compared this against my so-far-all-time favorite "mplayer" and I could find hardly any or no differences in the quality of what I get with either application, totem or mplayer.


For those interested in managing their systems on a more technical level: Mind that "Upstart" has replaced the good old "sysvinit" start-up system. More on this is to be found on https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ReplacementInit.

(edgy) Local mail handling

For whatever reason, Edgy comes with no(!) MTA (such as postfix) or any other of the standard-Unix-local-mail-handling tools (such as procmail and mailutils) installed. Lets fix this (to get my good old mail fetching system up and running):

Concerning the "plan for spam", the following packages are useful:

If you want to use "spamc" (e.g. from your procmail configuration), don't forget to enable "spamd" to be started by setting "ENABLED=1" in /etc/default/spamassassin.

In order finish setting up my old mailing environment, I needed to install the following packages to be able to compile Sylpheed:

(edgy) 64 bit: not just a blessing

While I was quite keen about my 64-bit architecture and "of course" used the AMD64 port of Ubuntu to install my brand-new system, there are some problems that come with it: common 32 bit plugins and applications often don't "just work" out of the box.

Firefox & Flash

It works - including sound!

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=341727 has the details on how to get the 32-bit Flash plugin working in Edgy's 64-bit Firefox, using nspluginwrapper.
Something like this got me going:

Thanks to Gwenole Beauchesne for this great tool!

You can test your flash plugin here.

Update - 2008-12-20:
Apparently, Adobe has decided to release a 64-bit version of their Flash Player 10 for Linux. While still being a pre-release at the moment, that's great news in my opinion - thanks!

Firefox & Java

It works - for elder applets!

Here's a way to get basic applets working in Edgy's 64-bit Firefox - big thanks to GNU Classpath!

This is as easy as it sounds and is the only 64-bit Firefox solution I know: just install this package and its dependencies.
Here's the Java browser plugin test page, and also don't forget to take a quick look at "about:plugins".

Mind though that GNU Classpath is a free implementation of the "core class libraries for use with virtual machines and compilers for the java programming language". To my knowledge, it is nearly 100% compatible with Java 1.4 equivalents at the moment.

Other approaches...

Here's a listing of other approaches I know and why I don't use them:

The problem with nspluginwrapper is that it keeps telling me the following: "nspluginwrapper: /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins/libjavaplugin_oji.so is not a valid NPAPI plugin". The reason for this is that nspluginwrapper only supports NPAPI plugins, while the Java plugins uses a different standard (OJI - Open Java Interface).

In the meantime, I also gave blackdown-1.4.2-03-amd64 a chance, but it didn't work either:
After I have unpacked from the binary and created the link "/usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins/libjavaplugin_oji.so -> /opt/j2re1.4.2-amd64-blackdown/plugin/amd64/mozilla/libjavaplugin_oji.so", my 64-bit Firefox listed the Java plugin when checking in "about:plugins", but the Java browser plugin test did not succeed (just got a red "X" in the upper left corner of the applet rectangle), and other pages such as Map24 just crash the browser.
(Invoking from commandline using e.g. "$ firefox http://...url-directly.../" resulted in a browser-crash with the following output: "An unexpected error has been detected by HotSpot Virtual Machine: SIGSEGV (0xb) at pc=0x00002b7cc93047da, pid=19353, tid=1100601680 Java VM: Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (Blackdown-1.4.2-03 mixed mode) Problematic frame: V [libjvm.so+0x3327da] [...]"

Here are further links on this topic:


I eventually decided to go with the easy approach: Install the statically-linked binary "skype_staticQT-" distributed by skype.com:

Yes, you will find many more approaches on how to get Skype working out there -- but most involve manual tweaking of i386 packages, library paths or whatever:

Video codecs

With the default 64-bit installation it's not possible to use w32codecs directly. According to WindowsCodecs, the codecs that come with the 64-bit system do not support WMV and QuickTime. A suggested workaround (again) is to use a chroot environment.

Update - 2008-12-20:
Apparently there is the w64codecs package in the wild now. Not sure about the support for WMV or QuickTime though.

Adobe Acrobat Reader

When launching /opt/acroread/bin/acroread, I just get the endlessly looping "expr: Syntaxfehler" error message (which can be translated into something like "expr: Syntax error").
Apart from the always available approach of using a chroot environment, I have no idea how to get the Acrobat Reader working at all, since there is neither a 64-bit nor a statically linked version of this tool.

Bear in mind though that the nspluginwrapper mentioned above supports the Adobe Acrobat Reader plugin - though I haven't tried this yet, this might pose as an alternative approach if it really works: "just" open the PDF file via your Firefox browser. Not really acceptable, I know, but something that just crossed my mind. :)

(edgy) Eye Candy

TODO ... but I will wait for Ubuntu 7.04 (aka Feisty Fawn), since this release will come with a standard menu entry to turn on visual gimmicks ... :)
In the meantime some resources:

Ubuntu Linux 7.04: Feisty Fawn (AMD64)

(feisty) Upgrade to Feisty Fawn

back to my Ubuntu overview

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© Markus Amersdorfer
last modified: 2010-02-23 14:57:05
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