Adventures with Missing Memory

I recently installed Ubuntu Linux 7.10 on my Ultra 40 at home. When I ran any command that reported memory (free, top, system monitor, etc.) it reported that 2.5 GB was available on my system. The problem with this is that my system has 3 GB.

I did a lot of searches on "missing memory," "underreported memory," etc. and never came up with anything. But after running the dmesg command today on an unrelated matter, I noticed this message:

Use a PAE enabled kernel

After a few searches, I determined that Ubuntu had chosen the wrong kernel for my machine. I needed the bigsmp flavor. Previous Linux variants had installed this by default but not Ubuntu 7.10. It was not easy to figure out how to get that kernel, either. A search in Synaptic for bigsmp yielded nothing. So back to Google, where I was able to find the advice to install the linux-image-server package. So I did, restarted my system, and the bigsmp kernel came up in my grub boot list.

So I booted it.

Now some more fun - gnome wouldn't come up in high resolution. Seems this kernel is incompatible with the nvidia video driver I had installed. gnome put me in 800x600 mode. So I went to the Restricted Drivers panel to disable my nvidia drivers.

More fun. I got a message telling me that this panel wouldn't start up without the linux-restricted-modules-2.6-22.14-server

So I go to Synaptic and look for the package. It's not there! Back to Google, more searching around, appears the package doesn't exist but I can get it if I recompile things on my system. I don't feel like it, so no more nvidia drivers and no more nice compiz for this release.

Sigh.

So one more power down, then reboot into the generic kernel, where it nicely lets me disable my generic driver. Then a final reboot into the bigsmp (aka server) kernel, where I now have access to the full 3 GB on my system.

Comments:

The ultra 40 has an amd64 cpu right? Doesn't ubuntu come with a 64bits kernel (for use with the 32 bits distribution)? Most distributions have this and it makes PAE useless.

Posted by Marc on November 19, 2007 at 12:59 AM PST #

Well, I was hoping to avoid hassles with 32-bit plugins on a 64-bit OS.

I have other hassles with this distro as well. I have both the COMRESET failed problem (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux-meta/+bug/150259) and the slow gnome startup problem (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-session/+bug/128803).

It all works once I get the system running, but that sometimes takes a while.

I've spent way too long on what should have been a simple install and am going to try other distros this weekend.

Posted by David Goldsmith on November 20, 2007 at 12:50 AM PST #

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