Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hard time installing Ubuntu 7.10

While I can easily install Ubuntu 7.10 on my Thinkpad R52 laptop and got it to work out of the box. I had hard time installing it on my Desktop PC. There are many difficulties I came across which I short-note them here for future references and for those who might have the same problem.

The Black Screen after GRUB Issue

I am not sure how could this happened. But when I chose to boot into Ubuntu (generic) from GRUB boot menu, for the first time. My screen goes blank and nothing happened.

I tried to diagnose the problem by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F1 right after you GRUB disappeared. This will let you see the boot sequences in text mode.

It amazed me since It finally brought me to login screen at that moment. I tried to login but got some message like GTK+ failed and a permission denied message indicating that it cannot create the ~/username/.gnome2/accels directory.

could not create gnome accelerators directory `/home/m3rlinez/.gnome2/accels': Permission denied

So I quit and change the session type of Fail-Safe Command line mode and login again.

There was a big white rectangle appeared on the right of my screen and I could use it as a terminal. I type the following command to remove some directories of gnome.

This command will permanently delete the directories passed as parameter and their contents. Use this at your own risk.

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd

After that I typed exit and logged in again. I could then get to the desktop.

The Cannot Start Firefox Issue

When I tried to start Firefox, there was a tab indicating "Starting Firefox Web Browser" appeared at my task bar for some seconds before it finally disappeared and nothing happened.

I tried to run Firefox from terminal to see if there might be some sorts of error message output to the terminal. But there was not.

Some guys at Ubuntu forums suggested the readers to run Firefox using strace utility. I then use the following command to start Firefox.

strace firefox

The strace program really gives me some clues on why Firefox failed to started. There is something like a permission problem at the end of strace output. So, I tried to run Firefox using sudo firefox command. And it worked!

Finally, I changed the Firefox folder and theif contents permissions to 777. I could then start Firefox as a normal user. Firefox folder is located at /usr/lib/firefox. A little weird place for Windows user like me :(

cd /usr/lib
chmod -R 777 firefox

The Thai Keyboard Issue

This is easy. Go to System -> Preferences -> Keyboard and add a new Thai Keyboard layout. After that you need to configure the layout switching method, click the Layout Options tab and expand the Group Shift/Lock behavior mode node then tick the Alf-Shift changes group.

The ATi Graphics Display Driver Issue

WARNING: The following instructions are OUTDATED. You can find clear and concise instructions on this page:

I heard from many sources that ATi graphics hardware is hard to use with Linux OS. I have ATi Radeon HD 2600 XT which works fine with Windows Vista. Unfortunately, It did not work well with my Ubuntu.

After logged into X-session for the first time. The screen resolution was set to certain size which was not native resolution of my LG 19'' 1440 x 900 model. I cannot enable the Desktop Effects too. There was a little dialog that suggested me to enable the Restricted Driver from ATi. So I enabled it and reboot.

When I booted into Ubuntu again, my screen got messed up to a resolution like 800 x 600. And there is a message box indicating that I am using a Low Graphics Mode. I tried to change the resolution to my native resolution (1440 x 900) but it does not work. So I clicked the cancel button and logged into X-session using the Low Graphics Mode.

To undo the changes made by Restricted Driver, I loaded up the terminal and type this command to revert the video drivers back to auto-detected one again.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

I followed the instructions on the screen, leave every choices as default, and reboot. Everything goes back to normal with Restricted Driver disabled. But, still, I cannot enable the Desktop Effects.

So I went googling and found many suggestions. I finally goes to official ATi website to download a drivers for my graphics card. After made some selections about my system, the website brought me to a page the let my download the ATi Catalyst Drivers for Linux. So I downloaded it. Its name is

I started the installer using sh ./ command. I then restarted the X-server by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace key combination. You can simply reboot the machine at this point too but it would takes more time. I finally now got the screen resolution to my native LCD resolution at 1440 x 900. But, again, I still cannot enable the Desktop Effects.

The last step is to install the xserver-xgl package.

sudo aptitude install xserver-xgl command

Here is a short description of what the package does, taken from

Xgl provides a GL-based X server, performing its drawing through a GL stack. In combination with a GL-based compositing manager, this allows for high-speed transformations of windows.

After the installation, I rebooted the machine again. And I can now finally enable the Desktop Effects :) You can also install the Custom Desktop Effects config tool using this command

sudo aptitude install compizconfig-settings-manager

So, that is anothor story of ATi with Ubuntu Linux of mine. Hope this helps.

My desktop

Another great window management tool

Great MSN Messenger Clone on Linux

My friend, Tap, recommended me a good MSN Messenger client for Linux, emesence (I am not sure if the author tend to let me pronounce that as em-es-ence).

After some experiments with this new program, I have to tell you that this is by far the best MSN Messenger clone I have ever used. The experience is very similar to Microsoft Windows Live Messenger. The GUI is also polish. Here is a sample screen shot I took.

It seems like installing this program from the package manager is not possible at the moment (without adding unstable repository they provided). However, manually installing this program is easy. Because you only need to unpack the archive file and double click the script to get it run. You can eventually create a nice launcher for this program and assign an icon located at /misc/ directory for it too.

I think this program will soon be a great option from those of Pidgin and aMSN. Finally, I really recommend this program for new Linux users :)

You can get it here,

Friday, December 14, 2007

Uninstalled Netbeans 5.5.1 from my Ubuntu

It is not because I do not like Netbeans or something like that. But it is because I got the brand new Netbeans 6.0 IDE installed on my computer. So I think it is OK to uninstall the old version now :)

You can get Netbeans 6.0 IDE here!

Different versions of Netbeans IDE actually can coexist without any conflict. Unfortunately, my HDD space of Ubuntu partition is very limited (at 6 GB). So I need to keep only the programs I actually use.

Uninstalling program from Ubuntu Linux is done differently from Windows. I installed the Netbeans IDE using the Package Manager. But I cannot find a way to uninstall the program using it. So I checked Application->Add/Remove... but still got no luck. So I finally browsed to Netbeans 5.5.1 folder located at /home/m3rlinez/netbeans-5.5.1/_uninst/ and found an uninstall script ( I double clicked on it and selected Run in Terminal. Then, the nice GUI popped up and I uninstalled Netbeans.

After my experience from using the latest release of Ubuntu (7.10). I think Ubuntu is now ready for many computer geeks and Java developers. But it may not be ready my mom :( The team has to get more works done.

Friday, December 7, 2007

My Java Remote Method Invocation Tutorial in Thai

My assignment in course Distributed System forced me to study Java Remote Method Invocation or, in short, Java RMI. The requirements are to invoke some methods on the server, host my own server and let my client invoke method in it.

Java RMI is in the same position as .NET Remoting object I mentioned before. It facilitates the interprocess communication. However, I think both method are too hard to use. The .NET Remoting requires ugly configuations while Java RMI requires the policy file. They should be easier.

So, to help the less experience Java programmers getting started, I decided to publish an article on how to make use of Java RMI with Eclipse IDE. The article is in Thai language. You can find it here,

Edit: I got some feedbacks from my friends and found that there are still some mistakes in the tutorial. I will correct these when I have time.