Linux Desktop (still) Not Ready For Primetime
By jtb on Jul 13, 2009
The other day, I got an itching to replace the Windows XP OS on my media PC with Linux. It's an older machine that's low on memory and quite slow because of this. However, it does the job as a media PC - it plays all audio and video formats which is about all I need. Nonetheless, boredom drove me to burn and install Ubuntu 9.
The install was simple and went smoothly, but I quickly ran into the first problem. I have a NAS device that runs an embedded Samba server. Windows, and Mac for that matter mount it fine. Linux? Nope. A little googling on this told me that kernel 2.6.25 broke compatibility with the device's Samba implementation. Luckily, it has a USB port as well, and that did work.
After getting my media disk mounted as a USB device, I went to play some movies. I first tried the built in movie player application. It would start, then exit immediately. No errors. I next installed VLC. Same thing. Googling on this topic informed me I need to change the video output device from "default" to "X11". After changing this, videos played on both applications (sort of).
Now, when the videos played, I saw screen tearing now and then when a lot of action occurred. For the life of me, I could not find how to rectify this. A new video driver? I found some instructions for certain types of video cards. I have a generic on-board Intel graphics controller. The colors also looked washed out, but I can't really quantify this as a real problem.
Finally, as Boxee is getting so much hype and it doesn't work on Windows (there's an Alpha now actually), I decided to install that. Apt-get did the job efficiently. Running Boxee got me a blank screen. Googling again showed me that Boxee doesn't support the latest version of Ubuntu which of course is the one I installed.
All in all I ended up with less functionality and poorer performance, and I lost about 4 hours of my life getting as far as I did.