Monday, January 12, 2009

Ubuntu and AMD

For a few years, I'd been happily using the MSI K8NGM2-FID motherboard with AMD Athlon 64 processors (most recently, a 2.2 GHz X2). I've also been using an Intel Core2 Duo laptop (2 GHz), and have historically always used 64-bit versions of Ubuntu. With my recent upgrades to Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10, Ubuntu seems to be more and more sluggish on my desktop, but on my laptop, it is pleasant as ever. Firefox had been especially sluggish. I also had serious (unresolved) audio problems on my desktop. Because of these nagging annoyances, I finally decided to upgrade. I really hate doing that, my hardware was just fine for daily computing, but the fact that Flash sites rarely worked correctly, the audio sucked (if it worked at all) and my (similarly spec'd) laptop was noticeably snappier than my desktop, in general. I couldn't take it any more.

Here's the upgrade I settled on:
  • NVidia 9800 GTX video card
  • 3 Gigs of triple channel (1333 MHz) DDR3 RAM
  • Intel Core i7 (2.67 GHz) chip
  • ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard
The verdict is in: this setup ROCKS. Ubuntu 8.10 (64-bit) installed without a hitch, all the hardware appears to work flawlessly, the 3D goodies work great, so does Google Earth, Firefox is fast, Adobe Flash websites work perfectly (after installing Flash 10), and seemingly simple tasks (watching a video) don't hog 100% of one of the cores (more like 10%).

I can't describe how much snappier everything is.... must be, on average, about 3x faster. It still annoys me that I had to do this. My new hardware is only about 23% faster (clock speed), so clearly there was some weird driver/hardware issue. With my new, well-supported Intel hardware, however, the driver support seems perfect. My 4 hyperthreaded cores are detected as 8 total processors, and the OS appears to load balance intelligently.

I highly recommend this setup. You will NOT be disappointed!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Installing Google Earth in Ubuntu

I recently installed Google Earth 4.3 in Ubuntu 8.10 (64-bit). I suspect the issue I discovered will be relevant for more than just these versions of software. To install it, use the following method:

1. Download it to your desktop
2. cd ~/Desktop
3. chmod +x GoogleEarthLinux.bin
4. sudo ./GoogleEarthLinux.bin

DO NOT let it launch GE after the installation. Close down the installer, then launch GE from the desktop or menu icon. If you let it launch GE from the installer, some files will be created under the root account. You then won't be able to run it as a normal user. If this happens to you, follow this remedy:

1. cd ~
2. sudo rm -Rf .config/Google
3. sudo rm -Rf .googleearth

Things should now work as expected.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Ya know on Windows you can type ALT+236 to get an infinity sign? (and other special characters with other codes) In Linux, you can achieve the same thing by entering "unicode mode". To do this, type CTRL+SHIFT+U then type the Unicode code. So for instance, to get an infinity sign, the code is 221E. ∞ See, it works!

Cool, eh?