Sunday, August 21, 2011

Xubuntu ..... no ..... Lubuntu

Xubuntu/Lubuntu Install

I downloaded and burned a Xubuntu 11.04 64 bit CD as well as a Lubuntu 11.04 64 bit CD on Friday, all prepared to try out the two Ubuntu variants.  I put in the Xubuntu CD and selected the "Try out" option, and then nothing happened.  Weird.  After verifying the CD was good I tried again, and nothing.  I then went into and edited the Grub boot options and replaced the "quiet splash" with "nosplash".  The last line I saw before my MacBook Pro locked up was:

fb: conflicting fb hw usage nouveaufb vs. EFI VGA - removing generic driver

This comment indicates that this happens and the thread has the solution once the system is installed.  However, I was using a LiveCD, and am not sure how to add a modprobe blacklist at run time to a read only os.  My fix was to add the "nomodeset" kernel option which allowed me to get through the installation of Xubuntu finally.  You can do this by pressing 'e' under grub and going to the end of the line where the kernel is specified and after all the other options adding "nomodeset" (without the quotes) to the file.  After you have it there, you should be able to press F10 to boot the updated setup.

At this point I thought I was set!  But alas, upon reboot, nothing I did could get it to run correctly.  Left alone, the same fb error would occur.  Setting nomodeset or adding the fb to the black list both allowed it to continue but then get stuck in a very weird "loop detected in script" error (that I didn't write down and now don't remember the details on).  At this point I was getting frustrated, and figured I'd jump from Xubuntu 64 to Lubuntu 32 since they were both 11.04 based, just changing the default desktop was probably not going to fix the error I had.  So I burned a 3rd CD with Lubuntu 32 and started again.

I did notice a difference between the 10.04 install of Bodhi and the 11.04 install of both [X|L]ubuntu: that Bodhi did not try and install grub in addition to the rEFIt firmware.  So now for this new version, I have to go through the rEFIt screen and the grub screen, or sometimes only grub which seems to mean that grub is trying to install itself over rEFIt.  Since grub doesn't boot from CD easily (see here for a way), I don't really want grub being there at all and find it kind of annoying.

Anyway on to the Lubuntu install.  I had no issues with the display this time, it just worked.  I'm pretty sure this is 64/32 difference and not a Xubuntu/Lubuntu difference, but since I have the Lubuntu 64 CD, I'll try it later.  The install itself behaved the same way as the Xubuntu install (although I notice Lubuntu installs Chromium while Xubuntu installs Firefox).  Upon reboot, however, everything just worked.

Getting settled

The first thing I did was remove abiword and gnumeric and install libreoffice, emacs and smbnetfs.  After looking around last time, smbnetfs looks like a much better approach to handling Samba mounts then smbclient/smbfs nonsense is.  It allows individual users to do there own mounting/unmounting and have their own set of shares, and best of all, only one explicit mount command has to be run, and from that point on viewing various shares on different computers/workgroups is a breeze.  No need to muck around with /etc/fstab or anything else.  Also, no need to have a heavyweight file manager like nautilus just so you can have an easy time of Samba.

To get smbnetfs up and running under Ubuntu/Debian you do the following:

sudo apt-get install smbnetfs

Setup a mount point like /mnt/samba or /media/samba that everyone can write to

sudo mkdir /mnt/samba
sudo chmod 777 /mnt/samba

Get your configure file from the default one:

mkdir ~/.smb
cp /etc/smbnetfs.conf ~/.smb
touch ~/.smb/smbnetfs.auth
chmod 600 ~/.smb/smbnetfs.*

You can add lines for different shares containing the username and password info to the smbnetfs.auth file you just created, an example one like the following:


I did this and then ran the following:

mount /mnt/samba

I got all of this from this link, and it all seemed to work, but upon running the mount command I got the error:

/root/.smb directory does not exist, using defaults in /etc/samba.  

Since the whole point was not to run as root this made no sense.  I tried out making root a user of smbnetfs as well and this did allow me to view all of my shares, but it was still not visible to regular users and I didn't want to run it like that.  After googling around, I eventually saw someone call:

smbnetfs /mnt/samba

This worked!  It was that easy.  I had to call smbnetfs directly and not allow mount to try and call it indirectly.  Hopefully others who encounter this problem see this.  Once up and working, smbnetfs was a dream.  I'm so glad I looked around more before grudgingly installing nautilus/nautilus-share to handle this.

Comparison of LXDE and Enlightenment

After playing around with LXDE for a while, I'm starting to get a feel for their differences.  Enlightenment is much prettier and has better effects, but also seems a lot less stable.  They both use very little memory and CPU when running, which is great.  However, when running Wine under both several times using different apps, the Enlightenment windowing system seemed to lose all responsiveness until I closed the Wine program.  Under LXDE, everything was responsive.  I've had at least 10-15 instances of E17 either telling me it SEGV'd or not allowing me to change windows, neither of which has happened under LXDE.  I haven't played with LXDE enough to have an equal comparison but right now it seems a choice between beauty and stability.


  1. I'm seriously considering abandoning Gnome 2 on my POS slow laptop for something else, but XFCE isn't that much lighter. LXDE is a project I've been following for years, but every time I try it just doesn't work out for me. Maybe this time it will.

  2. LXDE has been incredibly lightweight and stable. I can only speak from personal experience, but Lubuntu was incredibly easy to install and I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

  3. It took some work configuring everything to provide a suitable replacement for my customized Gnome 2 setup, but I'm now running Lubuntu. Sure beats having to use Unity!

  4. What? Can I translate this page to english? I'm sure this means something "remove abiword and gnumeric and install libreoffice, emacs and smbnetfs"... but don't ask Me what (not that I really care). I was just trying to figure out what Lubuntu could do for me on my Atom powered Asus netbook. Yikes, I waded in too deep.

    signed, 'hoplessly left behind'.