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This is Ian Ozsvald's blog (@IanOzsvald), I'm an entrepreneurial geek, a Data Science/ML/NLP/AI consultant, author of O'Reilly's High Performance Python book, co-organiser of PyDataLondon, a Pythonista, co-founder of ShowMeDo and also a Londoner. Here's a little more about me.

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10 May 2009 - 12:12Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 on Dell 9400 Laptop

We’ve just installed Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 onto Emily’s Dell 9400 laptop.  As ever there are some wrinkles, I’ll note them here.

First – installation was fine and easy.  I used a 10Gb root partition and the rest (about 100Gb) as /home.  Sound worked straight away.

Video is, as ever, a bit more interesting.  This machine has an ATI Mobility x1400 card.  Ubuntu uses the open-source ‘ati’ driver by default.  This works but video tears which is distracting.  TV Out works (we run at 1024×768 to the LCD TV).

I’d assumed we could use the closed-source ‘fglrx’ driver (I’ve used it in the past) but ATI doesn’t support the r500 chipset (as used in the x1400) from the current release of the X display system, as used in the latest Ubuntu. So – we can’t use ‘fglrx’ and we can only use the ‘ati’ driver.

The only improvement I’ve found so far is to use the EXA (notes) switch in xorg.conf, EXA is an improvement to the XAA graphics subsystem.  By using it we can use the ‘og’ (open-gl) graphics system in mplayer along with ‘xv’.  Previously if I tried ‘og’ it wouldn’t go fullsize, only ‘xv’ would go fullsize.  Both still tear though.  Hmm, further reading suggests that Jaunty was released with EXA enabled by default as it fixed many problems.

I’ve also tried: AGPMode to 8 – no change. AccelDFS – no change.  EXAVsync to True on the radeon man page – no change.  These bits – no change.

To try – ‘man exa’, man page for radeon.  Look for other xorg.conf options.  Also  ideas.  The log in /var/log/Xorg.0.log seems to be fine although AIGLX reports that DRI2 isn’t supported.  More notes and more.

Anyone else have any suggestions? Drat – it looks like it is dual-head support that isn’t quite fixed!  The current 2D support is tear-free for this card but I think only for the primary screen, not the LCD output (which is what I’ve been viewing all along).  Looking at the laptop’s screen I don’t see any tears.  Back to searching.

For the following message see this fix: “The application ‘NetworkManager Applet’ (/usr/bin/nm-applet) wants access to the default keyring, but it is locked.”


Ian applies Data Science as an AI/Data Scientist for companies in ModelInsight, sign-up for Data Science tutorials in London. Historically Ian ran Mor Consulting. He also founded the image and text annotation API Annotate.io, co-authored SocialTies, programs Python, authored The Screencasting Handbook, lives in London and is a consumer of fine coffees.

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