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Upgrade of HP 2133 Mini-note PC from Ubuntu 14.04 to 16.04

Posted 03-06-2019 at 02:04 PM by flshope

Background:

I have a 2008 HP 2133 Mini-note PC laptop running Ubuntu 14.04.5 with the Gnome Flashback desktop environment. A hardware summary is given below. In normal useage, I run the machine with an external display, external keyboard, and external mouse via a Netgear GCS1724 KVM switch.

I have been delaying the upgrade to 16.04 because of previous upgrade difficulties and because of the age of the machine (~11 years). The upgrade software for 14.04 would not run until I installed Gnome Flashback, which worked fine after the 14.04 upgrade. Under 14.04, Unity would not run, though it ran OK under 12.04. Since support for 14.04 ends in April 2019, I decided to proceed with the 16.04 upgrade.

The Upgrade:

The first thing I did was create an Ubuntu 16.04 installer DVD with a live trial option. I had difficulty getting that to run because the installer did not include a driver for the machine's ethernet card and couldn't find what it wanted on the flash drive containing a copy of '/lib/firmware'. Eventually, I was able to identify the driver from the output of 'sudo lshw' and locate the driver deep in '/lib/firmware', which I copied to the root of the flash drive. Then the installer then ran and allowed the live trial of 16.04, which seemed to run OK.

Of course, I backed up my data files, and some of the system files from the hard disk boot directory, onto an external drive.

To install the upgrade, I disconnected the external display but kept the external keyboard and mouse. I ran the upgrade from the Software Updater under Gnome Flashback. The installer downloaded 1.3 GB (1700 files) in about 20 minutes on a 1 MB/sec internet connection. The software installation took another 3 hours. The installer ran to completion with no problems. The machine rebooted normally to the greeter logon GUI, which showed Gnome Flashback, IceWM, JWM, and Ubuntu (i.e., Unity) desktop options (options originally installed under 14.04). Since I had not been using Unity on this machine for years, I chose Gnome Flashback to log on. That failed repeatedly, each time returning to the logon GUI without ever displaying anything. In desperation, I tried Unity, which worked -- at least, the log on and display of the desktop was successful. However, every application I tried, including the terminal, was too slow to be useful. Last, I tried IceWM, which worked and had good response but needed configuring. I considered the alternatives of Xubuntu or Debian Xfce, but the quickest route to usability seemed to be configuring IceWM.

Post-upgrade Configuring:

IceWM has a nicely done user manual available at http://www.ice-wm.org/manual/. To configure IceWM for a particular user, it is recommended to copy a master IceWM directory to the user home directory. The master directory might be in several places according to the manual, but I found it at '/usr/share/icewm' and copied it to '/home/USERNAME/.icewm'. In '.icewm' there are several text files that may be edited as desired to configure the window manager.

IceWM does have one peculiarity: after log on, it does not automatically display the desktop icons. I found by accident that running 'Files' (or 'nautilus') after log on causes the 'Desktop' directory icons to be displayed on the desktop for each workspace. To automate this, you can create a file 'startup' in '.icewm'. My file is as follows:

Code:
!#/bin/sh

sleep 2
#required to give icewm taskbar some time to startup before applets are added

xscreensaver &
nautilus &
I also wanted more workspaces than the four provided by default. This is easily done by editing the 'preferences' file, specifically, the line

Code:
WorkspaceNames=" 1 ", " 2 ", " 3 ", " 4 "
I also added a few applications to the applications menu by editing '~/.icewm/menu'. This is easily done by following the examples of the existing menu items in the file.

So far, I guess I am content with the Ubuntu 16.04 upgrade and IceWM. Only 7 percent of the 120 GB disk is occupied, and the machine response is as good as it ever was. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS should be supported until April 2021.

Hardware Summary:

Processor: VIA C7-M Processor 1200MHz 32 bits
Memory: 2GiB DIMM DDR2 Synchronous
Display: CN896/VN896/P4M900 (VGA), 9-inch viewable diagonal
Network: Broadcom BCM4311 802.11a/b/g Wireless
Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5788 Gigabit Ethernet 1Gbit/s
Disk: TOSHIBA MK1246GS ATA 120GB
Hostname: HP2008
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    I recently started posting a blog similar to yours. Looking at this, I have a lot to learn on proper formatting. Enjoyed this post of yours, thank you!
    Posted 03-15-2019 at 06:00 AM by schulidr schulidr is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by schulidr View Comment
    I recently started posting a blog similar to yours. Looking at this, I have a lot to learn on proper formatting. Enjoyed this post of yours, thank you!
    Hello, schulidr. Thanks for the feedback. I took a look at your blog -- you seem to be doing OK. It took me a while to figure out the formatting options for a post, and I'm sure there is more I need to learn. I'll remember to look for your posts.
    Posted 03-15-2019 at 07:40 AM by flshope flshope is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by flshope View Comment
    Hello, schulidr. Thanks for the feedback. I took a look at your blog -- you seem to be doing OK. It took me a while to figure out the formatting options for a post, and I'm sure there is more I need to learn. I'll remember to look for your posts.
    Thank you for the feedback and I look forward to the interaction. I am somewhat new to Linux... using it daily for about 8 months now but I was lightly exposed to it through work for about the last 10 years. I was a furious distro-hopper when I started but have settled in with Manjaro on my main computer. I have several other VM's and hardware installs on spare laptops that I tinker around with. Learning about Linux is really quite fun for me!

    I am already taking something away from this post. New to bash scripting I have one in my .zshrc and I have been wanting to look into how to delay the script from running so thanks for including that! Take care.
    Posted 03-15-2019 at 01:51 PM by schulidr schulidr is offline
  4. Old Comment

    Addendum: Using an external display on HP 2133 under Ubuntu 16.04

    Since the HP 2133 has a 9-inch viewable diagonal screen, I find it more comfortable to work on the machine with an external display. I use a 23-inch 16:9 Dell connected to my various machines through a Netgear GCS1724 KVM switch with VGA connectors.

    Under Ubuntu 14.04, after the HP 2133 booted and after log in, pressing Fn+F2 on the HP keyboard caused the external display to activate. Under 16.04, this procedure no longer works.

    What I have found that usually works under 16.04 is to boot the machine, log in, log off, and log in again. Usually, after the log off, the external display activates. Occasionally, this does not work and I must log off and on a second time before the external display activates. Further, the external display sometimes (rarely) activates immediately after boot. I can offer no deeper explanation of what is happening here.

    So far, I have not found any way to access the 'System Settings/Display' from IceWM. The Gnome Control Center is listed on the IceWM menu, but it will not start.
    Posted 04-09-2019 at 09:13 AM by flshope flshope is offline
 

  



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