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Installation of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on an HP 2133 Mini-note PC

Posted 02-28-2013 at 07:43 PM by flshope

I have a little laptop computer, an HP 2133 Mini-note PC, that originally had SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (Novell) as installed by the manufacturer in 2008. I was never very happy with the machine for several reasons. It was unstable and crashed frequently, but I could never determine if it had a hardware or software problem. A lot of stuff didn't work at all: an outboard modem, sound, camera, auto software updates, to name a few. If HP or Novell offered OS updates, I could never find them. I did like the machine as a piece of hardware: the 9-inch viewable diagonal screen, though small, is very readable and bright; the compact keyboard is large enough for touch typing and has pretty good feel; RAM is adequate at 2 GB and the disk is 120 GB; and the machine is small enough and rugged enough for traveling. It was fairly cheap, about $650 in 2008.

With no OS upgrades, eventually the applications software became obsolete, particularly Firefox and Opera, which refused to install upgrades after a while.

So I decided to change the OS. I have Ubuntu 12.04 on my two desktops. I downloaded a 12.04 CD iso image and burned a live CD. I used the setup program to make the external DVD/CD drive (LG Slim Portable DVD Writer) the first bootable device. The bootup was very slow, but the machine appeared to run correctly under Ubuntu, running off the CD drive.

So I decided to go ahead with the install. Preferring simplicity, I chose to overwrite SUSE rather than have a dual boot system. The install took about 4 hours with downloads over AT&T DSL but was uneventful. The install was successful. Much to my surprise, stuff started working under Ubuntu that never worked at all under SUSE: the sound card, the camera, the wireless. After the initial install, the Software Center wanted to install an additional 300 MB worth of stuff, so that took a few more hours.

The next morning, upon boot up, the machine was still working nicely under Ubuntu. So I started configuring things the way I like them. The default desktop had four workspaces -- not nearly enough. I found that the gconftool commands in the help system (the ones that set hsize and vsize, the number of horizontal and vertical workspaces in the matrix of desktops) didn't do anything: the number of workspaces wouldn't change. I suspect my video driver can't support all of Unity's capabilities. But the following command did work:

gconftool-2 --type=int --set /apps/metacity/general/num_workspaces 16

This gave a 4X4 matrix of workspaces, which is more to my liking. My primary desktop machine has 8X8.

So far, I would say that I am tickled pink with Ubuntu on this laptop. Sound, camera, videos, and wireless internet all work for the first time ever. And it has not crashed, not even once, but I am holding my breath on that.
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