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Xubuntu Optiplex 320 fix

After installing Xubuntu 7.10 on my work Dell Optiplex 320, after the reboot, the system would go to a blinking prompt, without allowing text input. After some research, I found that there is an issue with grub and the motherboard of THIS box. After a few hours of research I was able to find a fix: installing and using lilo instead of grub.
This is the thread I eventually used to guide me through it. I write about it because the first time I needed it, I spent 4 hours looking for it. The second time I needed it, I spent a half hour looking for it. The third+ times I need it (or maybe not), I’ll spend 1 minute looking for it.

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Why Ubuntu is not for me.

I installed Ubuntu Linux about a 3 days ago on my new system. It has not performed up to my expectations. I have compiled a short and concise list why I feel Ubuntu is not for me.

First, the OS is workstation oriented, in contrast to server oriented. There is very little support anywhere for a non-GUI based Ubuntu install, and everything is setup according to an ‘ease of use’ principle. There is talk on their forums about how the distro is slightly slow compared to some other Linux distros which compile their application packages, whereas Ubuntu simply installs the binaries. Moreover, something that really annoying me was the fact that you can’t by default su to root in an Ubuntu install, you have to instead sudo every command you want to execute as root. While I’m sure there are workarounds, such a ridiculous default option is nothing short of pestering.

Next, and further suggesting the above, the fact that the OS by default comes so bloated with software is somewhat annoying. It would probably be good for a typical workstation user, but for someone wishing to use the system as a server, the fact that OpenOffice, Gimp, etc. are installed is simply a waste of space. Personally, I think that Windows makes a great workstation, and I doubt I would anytime soon find a replacement. If the server were bloated with option server software, well that might be a different story…

Next, I was having some issues installing Oracle 10g. It turns out that Ubuntu isn’t a “Certified Linux Distribution” for Oracle 10g. Currently the only distros that are certified are

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4)
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 (RHEL 3)
  • Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES9)

I’m pretty sure each of those distros cost money. While I’m sure that the issues are probably easy to fix, I really don’t want to have to deal with it. I want an install that will work “out of the box.”

Next, the default “remote desktop” for Gnome acts as a vnc server, but it has enormous lag problems (compared to a system with 1/3rd the CPU speed and 1/4th the RAM). Not exactly sure why…

Lastly, their documentation is heavily lacking. But, I might have spoiled early in my *nux career.

Next step for getting an Oracle server? I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I’ve considered a Windows 2003 (win2k3) server, or maybe a VPS like Virtuozzo with win2k3 and some *nux (probably back to FreeBSD).

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Ubuntu installed

I installed Ubuntu 5.10 (Breezy Badger) on a shiny new system I just received… which barely fits under my desk.
Relevant stats:

2x Intel Pentium III 1.05GHz
2GB RAM
2x 250GB 7200RPM IDE hard drive
1x 80GB 7200RPM IDE hard drive
4x 40GB 7200RPM IDE hard drive
ATI Rage 128 (it is a server…)

With an onboard RAID device, and plenty of power, this system has support for 8 HDDs (room to grow!). It really is a thing of beauty. It also has room for 4 hard drive caddies, which each have built-in fans for cooling the HDDs.

I immediately installed Ubuntu server onto the system. After having it installed, I noticed that all of the documentation and guides out there were for the GUI version of Ubuntu. Apparently nobody uses Ubuntu for a server? So I scrapped that and reinstalled with the GUI version.

I found some great documentation for learning Ubuntu:

Speaking of… since one of the main reasons to switching to Ubuntu is to install Oracle, I decided to try installing Oracle 10g on Ubuntu.

Checking operating system version: must be redhat-3, SuSE-9, redhat-4, UnitedLinux-1.0, asianux-1 or asianux-2
Failed <<<<

ccole says you have to trick the system:

Add the following to new file /etc/redhat-release:
Red Hat Linux release 2.1 (drupal)

I’ve yet to try this, but I will as soon as possible.

So far, it looks to be working great. There are a couple of things I need to solve before I consider this a good replacement. Those things are, namely:

  1. Where do I get the gcc compiler?
  2. Java 1.5?
  3. UFS r/w compatibility?
  4. Vncviewer only has “takeover” mode, meaning the target machine still has all things viewable, potentially causing excess lag. How to get around this?

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