Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fixing the slow graphics redraw with Ubuntu Netbook Remix on a Dell Mini 10

I recently bought a Dell Mini 10 (not the 10v) from the Dell Outlet. I got a pretty good deal on it and I like it.

When I got it home, the first thing I did is overwrite the Windows XP install with Ubuntu Netbook Remix (9.04.) This proved to be a disaster. The graphics display was really slow and the monitor aspect ratio was distorted.

After much researching and reinstalling, I found out that the Ubuntu doesn't support the Dell Mini 10's graphic card. After yet more research and reinstalling I found a configuration that works splendidly, though I don't know if it will ever be upgradable.

Most of this is pieced together from this Credentiality blog post and others that refer to it:

First I had to create a bootable thumbdrive to install Ubuntu 9.04, which I did with UNetbootin. You need to use the Ubuntu 9.04 (the "Jaunty" release) as 9.10 does not have hacked drivers.

Once you get through the install, reboot and launch into Ubuntu, you'll notice the screen redraw sucks. This is what we'll be fixing.

After installing and getting onto wireless, I went into Update Manager and changed settings to NOT look for new versions of Ubuntu. (Again, we want to stay on 9.04.)

I checked for updates and found 245 or so. Installed. This took better than an hour. The install forces you to reboot.

Now for the work to turn this doorstop into a spiffy new netbook. You do all this from Terminal.

You'll need to create a special sources.list.d file:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu-mobile.list

put in the following content

deb jaunty main
deb-src jaunty main

Save and quit that file. Now, to install a bunch of stuff:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys C6598A30
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-psb
sudo apt-get install poulsbo-driver-2d poulsbo-driver-3d
sudo apt-get install psb-kernel-source


Once rebooted open a terminal and make a backup of your xorg.conf file.

sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.bak

Open up your xorg.conf:

sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Make the Section "Device" Look like this :

Section "Device"
Identifier "Configured Video Device"
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "MigrationHeuristic" "greedy"

OK ... reboot one last time and experience your spiffy machine with fast redraw.


* Don't upgrade to the newest version of Ubuntu. You'll be back to the slow, awful redraw. When this happened to me with 9.10, I was unable to find drivers that worked. I had to start completely over, reinstalling 9.04 and going through this again. (That's when I started writing it down for this blog post.) If you figure it out, let me know!

* I wouldn't even do software updates to the current 9.04 release. I did that, wanting to get a new Firefox update, and I ended back at square one, having to reinstall the OS and everything. (Hence the finishing of this blog post.)


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