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Ubuntu Saves My 10 Year Old Acer Laptop. First Look Opinions?

This Post is an overall check on using Ubuntu for most of the main things I require of Mint. On the whole - very good for the limited Unity Desktop version! Recommended for older PCs with 2GB RAM and a dual core CPU, where Mint may be a bit sluggish.


I have never been a user of Ubuntu, but was very pleased that it breathed new life into my old Aspire 5630, after my furious Win 10 BIOS button hijacking rant yesterday and dumping it (again!), as I am not going to tech support any Windows now ever again by having it in the house! Google only Win faulting...if I have to.

I just could not get a working GUI in this Acer with Mint Rosa, as the GPU would lock up with zebra tiles...

I have had Mint 17.2 on it in the past - with GUI troubles to fix, but got there.

For this PC, using the NV driver may be key to improved performance, but I won't change it yet in case it is unchosen for a reason, and as the GPU in this is dodgy at present..if it ain't broke...(ha, after all this it did lock up when I tried it! See bottom for uninstall):

So, what can I do or NOT do in Ubuntu that I take for granted in Mint? Well, you can't do as much as easily as Mint, but it is the basic desktop version - not the slower, bloated but more functional KDE - so suits older laptops etc.

So, what I have found that I think is annoying, odd or lacking compared to how intuitive and well thought through Mint generally is, from a user perspective? Not that much - perfectly usable by most linux and windows converts - just getting used to any slightly diff workspace...

I don't like the Apple style windows personally - close button and Panel in the wrong place, so first, I had to google to try and move the panel and awful sidebar to the bottom - I hate that. I guess I miss a menu button of expandable Apps etc. the most (right click Search)...It's very Apple eh?

Right click desktop for terminal then:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Launcher launcher-position Bottom

No go for the Panel though:

Simple answer: You can't. At least not with Unity.

Knowing the continued importance for drilling the concept of Backups into people, even after 20+ years plus since common 36k modem internet access - people STILL lose data - so I was impressed with an Icon for that, but then found it can't access network shares!?? Eh? Unless I'm being a dick..but I found the Network icon, and I have netshares available:

Short of setting up a local Samba share folder, I don't see how you can set backups to a remote PC from this Icon:

Ok, so I use rsync aliases from the cmd line anyway, but for novices...not good.

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ ssh t3400
ssh: Could not resolve hostname t3400: Name or service not known

Ok, seems I have to do the same as Mint and add all the things I know I need for Linux ease:

Post New Mint Install Tweaks Options

sudo apt-get remove thunderbird* --purge brasero*

sudo apt-get install ssh nmap vim automake autoconf module-assistant x11vnc nbtscan locate libnss-winbind winbind g++ libcurl3 gparted testdisk hardinfo k3b

I admit I'm impressed with the performance of this Acer now with 2GB RAM under Ubuntu. It's very usable, if not lightning fast of course. All the hardware like backlight and volume special keys work, if a bit slow when downloading/installing.

The default fonts and colours are easy on the eye, if a bit "girly", but who cares. Change the profile. The List view is not kept if you close your Files...I can't find many tweak options in the limited Appearance panel. No power button option for switch off...?

Try to set up that local share, hmmm....:

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ sudo mount -t cifs //dellmint/Storebird Public/ -o username=stevee
mount: wrong fs type, bad option, bad superblock on //dellmint/Storebird,
missing codepage or helper program, or other error
(for several filesystems (e.g. nfs, cifs) you might
need a /sbin/mount.<type> helper program)

This does it:

sudo apt install cifs-utils

sudo mount -t cifs //dellmint/Storebird Public/ -o username=stevee
Password for stevee@//dellmint/Storebird: ****
stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ ls Public/
FruityLoops PandorumTrailer Passport

Now I should be able to use that Backup App locally..? Bit of a runaround, just proof of concept! In reality you just use ssh/rsync aliases, else you would have to cifs mount this Public folder at each boot etc. -  hassle...

That's mounted remote Storebird locally in Public:

Oh, just set up ssh-keys, aliases etc. and get on with it..


stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ ssh-copy-id -i ./.ssh/ dellmint
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: Source of key(s) to be installed: "./.ssh/"
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: attempting to log in with the new key(s), to filter out any that are already installed
/usr/bin/ssh-copy-id: INFO: 1 key(s) remain to be installed -- if you are prompted now it is to install the new keys
stevee@dellmint's password:

Number of key(s) added: 1

Now try logging into the machine, with: "ssh 'dellmint'"
and check to make sure that only the key(s) you wanted were added.

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ rsync -e ssh /home/stevee/* stevee@dellmint:/Storebird/UbuntuHome/  --exclude=Videos --delete-excluded -vhan

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ alias budellmint='rsync -e ssh /home/stevee/* stevee@dellmint:/Storebird/UbuntuHome/ --exclude=Videos --delete-excluded -vhan'

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ budellmint
sending incremental file list

sent 622 bytes received 71 bytes 1.39K bytes/sec
total size is 46.92M speedup is 67,708.20 (DRY RUN)

That works, so remove the -n and save in .bash_aliases:

vi .bash_aliases

Set a crontab for 11pm backup:

crontab -e

# m h dom mon dow command
00 23 * * * rsync -e ssh /home/stevee/* stevee@dellmint:/Storebird/UbuntuHome/ --exclude=Videos --delete-excluded -a

So the other things I commonly do are review the Picams - can't film it as I don't know how to install the screen recorder yet!:

Yep, pleased with that, streams almost as well as the servers.

Get the grub boot info sorted for next boot while I remember:

Get Ubuntu visible on the net:

sudo vi /etc/samba/smb.conf

No need to restart samba:

Chrome installed ok from a saved .deb file using:

...obviously, as I'm writing this Post.

Once installed you can drag a shortcut from Applications to the Taskbar:

As this Acer has an Intel CPU and a nVidia GO7300, micro code may help speed it up:

sudo apt install intel-microcode amd64-microcode sensors-applet linux-firmware

get the Intel heat sensors in too - Y to All:

sudo sensors-detect

After a reboot:

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ sensors
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1: +66.0°C (crit = +127.0°C)
temp2: +66.0°C (crit = +100.0°C)

Adapter: PCI adapter
temp1: +60.0°C (high = +95.0°C, hyst = +3.0°C)
(crit = +110.0°C, hyst = +3.0°C)
(emerg = +135.0°C, hyst = +5.0°C)

Adapter: ISA adapter
Core 0: +66.0°C (high = +100.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 1: +66.0°C (high = +100.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)

How stressed is the PC? It's on 85% Mem use with swap drive usage too, but coping:


Not bad usage @ 60% idle, but Chrome/WPress causing some drive usage writing this Post:

sudo apt install sysstat

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ iostat
Linux 4.4.0-62-generic (UbuntuAcer) 10/02/17 _x86_64_ (2 CPU)

avg-cpu: %user %nice %system %iowait %steal %idle
                25.34 0.31 8.35 5.17 0.00 60.82

Device: tps kB_read/s kB_wrtn/s kB_read kB_wrtn
sda 26.40 397.04 326.75 4235899 3485976

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ sudo mpstat -P 0,1
Linux 4.4.0-62-generic (UbuntuAcer) 10/02/17 _x86_64_ (2 CPU)

23:41:34 CPU %usr %nice %sys %iowait %irq %soft %steal %guest %gnice %idle
23:41:34 0 25.53 0.38 7.82 4.99 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 61.28
23:41:34 1 25.08 0.26 8.05 5.16 0.00 0.82 0.00 0.00 0.00 60.62

sudo hardinfo

This is an old IDE drive, but still performs as well as the slowest SATAs at 40MB/s:

sudo hdparm -t /dev/sd*

Timing buffered disk reads: 120 MB in 3.05 seconds = 39.32 MB/sec

Timing buffered disk reads: 118 MB in 3.01 seconds = 39.24 MB/sec

sudo gnome-disks

So what about the install of the NV driver that failed to completely load the Desktop then locked up?

Luckily, terms were still usable CtrlAltF1-6, so I could:

sudo apt remove nvidia* --purge

sudo apt install --reinstall xserver-xorg-video-nouveau

This allowed the system to reboot back as it was.

It seems a bit snappier with the Intel ucode too. So what else do I use? x11vnc.

sudo apt install xtightvncviewer

ssh dellmint

stevee@DELLMINT ~ $ x11vnc -auth guess

In a local 2nd term:

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ vncviewer dellmint

Now I can check if Ubuntu is visible from Mint on the Network:

Let's run a remote App on dellmint via ssh:

stevee@UbuntuAcer:~$ ssh -X dellmint

stevee@DELLMINT ~ $ sudo gparted
[sudo] password for stevee:

Wow! I just learned something interesting here! Storebird is my 1TB USB drive, that is mounted, as seen with fdisk -l on Dellmint:

Yet it shows in Gparted remotely as an unallocated partition! That's because it's an external USB device! Now the USB gizmo readings in the Failed Disks Posts makes sense...duh...partition/disk data is not read consistently via USB it seems...

On the whole, very pleased with Ubuntu despite limited config options. It came loaded on my latest DellT3400 Dual so I'll keep it on that as an option for now too.

Good to have a 2nd option on USB key to try for problematic Mint VGA installs, and it runs well enough on older PCs.

This then begs the serious question; why does the xorg nouveau driver in the Ubuntu kernel install properly yet does not in Mint..?

This is not an isolated incident for me - across hundreds of installs now, and quite a few that get a Gnome Desktop only, if that - usually blamed on drivers unavailable etc.

This is only the first instance where I can compare two PCs directly where one flavour fails, yet I can only assume the driver is the same for both flavours, so any PCs Ubuntu can get a screen on, Mint should too, so maybe it's a kernel or Cinnamon code issue - Mint developers need to look at this it seems..?

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