Friday 9 October 2009

Ubuntu 9.0.4 Reinstallation On HP 6120

I've just had to reinstall Ubuntu on my HP 6120 Laptop, due to the graphics messing up - I was using Intel beta graphics drivers, so I guess the latest ones don't like my 915 chipset much. Consequently I was left with unusable graphics. Thankfully, it doesn't take too long to get a fresh Ubuntu installation back to how I want it.


Firstly I logged in, in safe-graphics mode and backed up my photos, some downloads, documents and my settings, over ftp to my desktop. I backed up the hidden folders for Firefox, and Pidgin which are ".mozilla" and ".purple". After reinstallation I simply copied these back into the new home directory. I used Evolution's own backup/restore function to get my email sorted. I should also say that you could also use a seperate /home partition but this time I wanted as little detritus from the previous install as possible. Also If you upgrade to a new version of Ubuntu, you may get config problems. If you can't boot into the old install you can copy everything over using the Ubuntu livecd.

Fresh Desktop

After the reinstall i was welcomed by a clean, very brown, Ubuntu desktop. This I just have to change! I reinstalled Clear-Blue theme and Human-Azul icons. I also installed wallpaper-tray, a utility that switches wallpapers at preset times, from Synaptic. I then installed Dropbox and pointed wallpaper-tray to my wallpaper folder in the Dropbox folder. For extra eye-candy I installed the Compiz advanced settings tool, I need my wobbly windows and spinning cube!

Essential Programs and Multimedia

For playing all the usual codecs and for some other stuff not included in the default repositories, the easiest solution is Medibuntu. I added the repository (link is to the howto) and installed 'non-free-codecs', 'libdvdcss2' (for encrypted DVD playing), Skype and Google Earth. Make sure to agree to the Google license agreement, otherwise installation will fail.

I installed Avidemux For video editing and to transcode downloaded youtube FLV videos, and Deluge for torrents (Linux distros mostly). I prefer Deluge to Transmission, the default client in Ubuntu as I find it easier to use. For playing videos and streaming video/audio I use VLC media player, it is one of the best players around. All three are cross-platform, running on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Hardware Monitoring

For keeping an eye on my laptops temperature and performance I always install smartmontools, lm-sensors, xsensors, and xsysinfo and they're corresponding applets which can all be found in the Ubuntu repos. For extra configuration I install Webmin, which is good for remote admin too. Do 'sudo sensors-detect' in a terminal (and press return a few times to answer the questions) to configure lm-sensors then reboot to get it working. Another good admin tool is phpsysinfo which gives a nice run down of your hardware in a webpage, a good alternative to Belarc Advisor on Windows. Of course, not for the command-line-phobic, ssh is the daddy of remote access - 'sudo aptitude install ssh'. I also installed the old Gnome network manager, 'gnome-network-admin' as i prefer it to the new one, especially for static connections.

Also of course, I installed the Facebook Pidgin plugin and Swiftfox, both of which I've blogged about before. And that's about it for the moment, last thing I installed was the Sun java plugin 'sun-java-jre', everything else I'll probably install as I need them.

Update 19/03/11

I have since replaced this laptop with another HP6120, (this time a slight upgrade 1.8Ghz, from 1.6Ghz) and I have been running Ubuntu 10.0.4 for quite awhile and is my favourite of my laptops due to it's nice 15 inch screen and keyboard.

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