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Ubuntu for AMD64 not 'there' yet

Comment Someone tell me when it's ready
Sat Dec 31 2005, 11:01
OUR RESIDENT folk singer Wendy liked the Ubuntu flavour of Linux a couple months ago, so I thought this was an opportunity to test the latest release (5.10), and this time download the 64-bit version to match the Athlon64 CPU in my Gateway 7422.

I sadly have to report that I'm not pleased with what I've seen. And I'm not a Linux novice either. I started with Caldera's OpenLinux 2.2 (before it turned Evil thanks to the SCO group), then moved to SuSE (8.1, 8.2, 9.0), then played with LindowsOS 4.0, until I realized that KDE was getting a royal pain, and that I liked the simplicity of the GNOME desktop much more. So I moved to Sun's Java Desktop System 2003, then R2, then the R3 beta, which was never formally released, despite having completed its beta test phase.

That left me in Linux-limbo-land, waiting for the supposed upcoming OEM releases of Sun's Java Desktop System on Linux, which so far still hasn't arrived.

Sun's Java Desktop System had a compelling feature set, with the main points being:

-Gnome centred, with plenty of Gnome tweaks.
-Sun's latest Java pre installed
-Decent selection of must have command line tools pre installed.
-Popular tools like Adobe Reader for Linux included - albeit the previous version.
 (a rpm package for JDS was made available on
-Mozilla Suite browser
-rpm based package system
Ubuntu has also an attractive feature set:
-new releases every few months
-Gnome based
-Builds for AMD64. 32bit x86 and LiveCD of every version
-Boots fast
-Clean, minimalist look
-Good Wifi support (detected the Proxim 802.11 "a" card in my cardbus slot).

However, that's where the good experience ended for me, as the first thing I did was trying to replace the built in open source PDF viewer with the real Adobe thing (version 7.01 for linux - "if they ported it why not use it, perhaps they'd be more willing to port more products"). I headed to and downloaded "AdbeRdr701_linux_enu.tar.gz". Extracted it (tar xvfz Adobe...), and installed it. What happened when I attempted to run it?

fcassia@ubuntu7422:~/Adobe/bin$ ./acroread
That's it. "Aborted". Very nice error message. Hrmmm. So, one bad apple, ok, I was willing to stand that, I made a post-it note about the problem. Then I decided I wanted Mozilla Suite, the full shebang, and I leeched Mozilla 1.7.12 from's ftp servers. I extracted it and attempted to run it, only to get:
(mozilla-bin:8407): Gdk-WARNING **: locale not supported by Xlib

(mozilla-bin:8407): Gdk-WARNING **: cannot set locale modifiers

(mozilla-bin:8407): Gdk-WARNING **: Error converting from UTF-8 to STRING: Conversion from character set 'UTF-8' to
'ISO-8859-1' is not supported
(repeat a dozen times, then end with a crash, which triggered the Talkback error reporting tool.)

Then I decided to give Seamonkey 1.0 beta a spin - the successor of the Mozilla Suite, now developed from a group of users instead of I downloaded the linux installer and expected it to work. Bzzt wrong. This one crashed at the installer, with the same error message:

(process:8499): Gdk-WARNING **: locale not supported by Xlib

(process:8499): Gdk-WARNING **: cannot set locale modifiers

(seamonkey-installer-bin:8499): Gdk-WARNING **: Error converting from UTF-8 to STRING: Conversion from character set
'UTF-8' to 'ISO-8859-1' is not supported
(seamonkey-installer-bin:8499): Gtk-CRITICAL **: gtk_pixmap_new: assertion `val != NULL' failed
./seamonkey-installer: line 72:  8499 Segmentation fault      "./${BINNAME}-bin" ${1+"$@"}

Ubuntu 5.10 for AMD64 on the Gateway 7422 - failing to see the plugged USB 2.0 microdrive

So, in short: yes it's fast. Yes it's minimalist. Yes it looks good and is at the top of the hype wave. But for me, everything indicates I'll have to either try other distros in my quest for the perfect Gnome based linux system.... like "64 Studio", "Foresight", or go back to the good old JDS R2 which might have an ancient 2.4 kernel, but it just worked with every linux package, proprietary or otherwise, that I threw at it.

Finally, I decided to give the latest release of Nerolinux -which I hear has many improvements over early releases-, the cd and dvd-burning application from Ahead. I was encouraged by a newsgroup post which read:

To install on amd64 - they say it is not supported, but I forced it and it has no errors at all with Breezy.

Go to: and download the deb trial version. Run the command:

sudo dpkg --force-architecture -i nerolinux-

Then simply run 'nero' at the command line.

However that was not my case. When I attempted to install the .deb file for nero, the debian package manager spitted:

fcassia@ubuntu7422:/incoming$ sudo dpkg --force-architecture -i /home/fcassia/Desktop/nerolinux-
dpkg - warning, overriding problem because --force enabled:
 package architecture (i386) does not match system (amd64)
(Reading database ... 69581 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to replace nerolinux (using .../nerolinux- ...
Unpacking replacement nerolinux ...
dpkg: dependency problems prevent configuration of nerolinux:
 nerolinux depends on libglib1.2 (>= 1.2.0); however:
  Package libglib1.2 is not installed.
 nerolinux depends on libgtk1.2 (>= 1.2.10-4); however:
  Package libgtk1.2 is not installed.
dpkg: error processing nerolinux (--install):
 dependency problems - leaving unconfigured
Errors were encountered while processing:

When I loaded Synaptic Package Manager and typed the name of the missing "libglib 1.2", I found that apparently none of the repositories contains libglib 1.2, as there's only a "doc" (documentation) file for it. Then, sadly, I gave up. Maybe I'd have had much better luck by sticking to the 32-bit version?.

I'm not a linux expert, just a techie that has run several linux flavours over the years, and I know that there must be plenty of happy Ubuntu users out there, but I can't imagine how one of the most popular linux distros, in its latest release, is unable to get Mozilla Suite, or the Adobe Reader 7.01 for Linux installed, and how it displays this dependency error trying to get NeroLinux installed, and nobody is aware of all this yet. Plus, things started getting annoying when I tried to edit some text files from a shell prompt and found that the legendary text mode e-mail client from the University of Washington dubbed "pine" is not there (wow, they saved... what... two megabytes of HD space?), nor is PICO, the text editor. So I tried to see if "joe" (a similar text editor) was there. No luck. Sheesh, I ran all those on JDS...

The nail on the coffin -as far as my Ubuntu 5.10 for AMD64 excitement was concerned- was when I plugged one of the new "Simpledrive Mini" 4-gigabyte USB 2.0 microdrives from Simpletech (formatted as FAT32) and couldn't access the drive, strangely there was no new drive icon on the desktop -unlike what did happen with other removable media like Compactflash or SD cards which DID trigger a new icon on the desktop-.

Just for comparison's sake I took my ancient LindowsOS 4.0 "liveCD" and booted it. Then I inserted the Simpledrive Mini USB 2.0 microdrive. A "USB to IDE" icon popped up on the desktop and I was able to browse the microdrive's FAT32 partition contents.

The same USB 2.0 microdrive popped up just fine in ancient Linspire 4.0

I don't want to put all the blame on Ubuntu, perhaps it was bad luck and an unfortunate choice of applications and hardware, but I'm too tired to keep trying. Hey Sun, could you guys please brings JDS R3 back to life? the world needs a "Lindows-like simple desktop, but with Gnome and Java" kind of distro, without SUSE's "everything and the kitchen sink" bloat and that doesn't buy into Novell's attached "forever-chasing-Microsoft" Mono agenda. µ


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