Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin Beta 2 on Vaio VPCEA36FG

Well, as you may know, my current ubuntu install, maverick meerkat will no longer be supported by Canonical, starting April 10th 2012… which sucks, since my attempts to like 11.xx version of ubuntu have been hindered by how sucky Unity and Gnome-Shell are, and foremostly, how kernel 2.6.8x to 3.x slash my battery life in half. I have also tried various versions of Mint, but nothing stick so far, and did not bother with suse and fedora.

Obviously, I have to inevitably pick something up, or stay on maverick sans security patches. Coincidently, Canonical has just released the 2nd beta for Ubuntu 12.04, Precise Pangolin with linux kernel 3.2 that supposedly fix the power management problem. So, here goes nothing!


Installation went okay, and I was greeted by the beautiful and aptly named Unity-Greeter login screen. Precise picked  up every single devices on the 36FG, including the multitouch touchpad. Very nice. My USB SB X-Fi 5.1 sound card is also supported out of the box. Just make sure that on Sound Setting, output tab, The X-Fi 5.1 is highlighted, and on hardware tab “Analog Surround 5.1 output” is selected

However, installing ATI binary driver turned out to be not as straight forward as other task. The restricted driver window shows two entries for ATI binary driver, with one labeled as post-release updates. I assume this one is the most update compared to the other. Pressing “activate” will start the download process, which will then stop and points me to look at /var/log/jockey.log to look for error messages. I didn’t bother with that, and proceed to download the driver directly from AMD

10 minutes later, the graphic chip is up and running with the latest driver from AMD.

Out with Unity, in with Gnome-Shell

After 30 minutes fussing with Unity, I can confirm myself that I really really really don’t like Unity. I then proceed to install Gnome-Shell. The installation is quite straight forward:

ikhsan@Mach5-NX-0:~$ sudo apt-get install gnome-shell gconf-editor gnome-tweak-tool

Next, log out, click on the litle “ubuntu logo on the top right of your name, select Gnome, and log back in. Now you’re on Gnome-Shell 🙂

Gnome it is!

I’m gonna make a separate post for what I did to my Gnome-Shell install, to make it bearable 😀

What works and what don’ts

Well, I can happily says that battery life is now showing approximately 3 hours when fully charged, hibernate and wake up works. Switching from plugged in to battery oddly did not drop the brightness level of the screen, so you need to dim the screen manually to conserve power.

Multiple display is well .. a mess 😀 My 36FG is connected to a Samsung LCD tv with maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. If you’re using the same hardware that I use, make sure that you set your display up using the Catalyst Control Center, as using the “display” app on Gnome froze my desktop. Also if you happened to encounter a desktop crash after mucking your display setting, and Gnome-Shell refuses to start after that, just log on to unity, and do:

ikhsan@Mach5-NX-0:~$ sudo aticonfig --initial -f

Log back in to Gnome-Shell, and start over. Another thing to note is that at least for HDMI, sometime, connecting the second monitor after you log in may also crash the desktop. This is with HDMI, and I haven’t tried this with the VGA connector


I have pretty mixed feelings about Ubuntu and Gnome-Shell. Yes it is beta, and I hope there will be significant improvements on the release version. As for now, I’m gonna keep my maverick install just a tad longer, until everything sorted out on Precise.


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