I recently bought a new PC. Specs are: Intel Core2 Duo E6750, Asus P5K-E Wifi/AP motherboard (using the new Intel P35 chipset), two 320 Gb Seagate Barracuda SATA hard drives. Video is a PCI-E Nvidia 7900GS based card (FORSA), which I bought from a friendly ebayer since the price/performance is better than the 8600 series cards, and I have no need for DirectX 10.
Here are my experiences installing Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn), amd64 Desktop version (yes, amd64 is the 64-bit version also used for Intel Core2 processors. I wish that was advertised more clearly, since it took a bit of hunting to confirm it was the right choice).
(I’ll ignore the problems I initially had with a fautly hard drive. Lets just say, BIOS detected it fine and the Ubuntu installer would partition it but would give errors trying to format it. I also tested it with WinXP and found it would partition, but the installer hung during formatting. After bringing it back to MSY for a no-questions-asked exchange, all was good).
What works: SATA and IDE
Intel ICH9 SATA controller works in IDE and AHCI mode. I haven’t tested the JMicron 20360/20363 SATA controller properly, but it detected attached disks in the Ubuntu installer so I assume it also works. Unfortunately, this motherboard doesn’t seem to support true hardware RAID. After turning on the ICH9 RAID in BIOS, then configuring two 320 Gb SATA disks as RAID1 (using Ctrl-H during bootup .. manual doesn’t document this well), Ubuntu still detected two disks … from this I’m assuming that the P5K-E does not have real hardware RAID. Not to worry, I can still use the software RAID provided by the Linux kernel anyway.
Networking: No problem
Onboard wireless networking (“ASUS WiFi-AP Solo”??) worked out of the box, as did the Gigabit LAN (Marvell88E8056 controller). Sound output (AD1988B chipset) works for the ‘front’ and ‘side’ speaker outputs. I can’t seem to get the mic/line inputs working yet.
Peripherals: USB, PS2 and Firewire
Not surprisingly, USB works fine, and the P5K-E boards have a PS2 keyboard port (not mouse, however), which saved my buying a new keyboard.
The Firewire interface (IEEE1394, Agere Systems FW323 [rev 70]) is detected and the ohci1394 driver loads, but it doesn’t appear to detect my camcorder (Sony ZR500), which is confirmed to work on another machine. The raw1394 driver loads okay, but no joy after that. This is the only hardware feature that didn’t work straight ‘out of the box’ with Ubuntu Feisty … all in all a pretty good scorecard. I’m sure I’ll get it working in the future with a little research, or when some updates come through.
Additional Software: Just a little blood at cutting edge of 64-bit computing
I usually run Automatix2 on new installations to quickly install various audio/video codec goodies, Google Earth and whatever else catches my eye (although based on this assessment, I’ll probably avoid Automatix in the future. Caveat emptor.). On a 32-bit version of Ubuntu, this would have also given me the Adobe Flash plugin, but for 64-bit Ubuntu (amd64) getting the Adobe Flash plugin working is still a minor pain in the butt. This is mostly since Adobe hasn’t released appropriately licensed source code and/or bothered to compile a 64-bit binary for Flash 9 yet. I got it working using nspluginwrapper and the 32-bit Flash for Linux, using the “Alternative 1” from these instructions on the Ubuntu forums. Installation of Opera followed a similar hack .. see this forum post (the Opera 9.22 qt-shared_en_i386 version which the Opera download site gave me by default seems to work okay, if the deb package is installed with
dpkg -i --force-architecture). I haven’t installed the 32-bit Java plugin using nspluginwrapper .. I hope it is no more difficult. It will be nice when these propriotory applications finally catch up with the 64-bit Linux world.
Overall, I’m very impressed. The system boots quickly, suspend (to RAM) and hibernate (to disk) work perfectly, Beryl is stable and pretty, and the desktop is very snappy and responsive. For the first time, I’ve been able to play Doom3 as it was intended ….. 🙂