I dug out yet another Old Laptop – this time A Dell Latitude C840. The Tech specs I shall post in one second but for this exercise, I choose to download Ubuntu 10.04 Beta One (been new and all) and went to work installing Ubuntu plus working with Compiz to give me a radical 3D Desktop – this was not to be as you shall soon find out..
The tech specs
Running a Mobile Pentium 4 at 1.8GHz, it has 1GIG Ram, 40GIG IDE Hard drive and a nVidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip which runs the screen at 1400×1050. The battery has since died and this only runs off the main power supply but it still is more then capable when running Windows.
Ubuntu 10.04 installed just fine and I was soon up and running but it warned me that the HD is about to fail as it has so many read errors. I enabled compiz and rebooted the machine as instructed – this was the last time I saw anything on the screen as such.
The problem with the Graphics
I almost gave up to be honest at this stage but I went on a *working* windows machine and I soon found out that the nVidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip has an issue in Linux – shock and horror !! The problem it seems is that it enables the VGA Connector as the default device instead of the screen actually built into the machine.
I had a few options but I took the one which basically edited the xorg.conf file and added a line to use the default device of DFP (Digital Flat Panel). Once I rebooted I had the desktop up and running once again.
No 3D Graphics?
I went through and enabled all the normal settings such as Cube and so forth but NONE worked, so here we have actually two issues – the Windows Key (use in many settings for 3D) does not even get picked up and also the driver and/or the card is incapable of actually doing 3D Graphics.
I do expect that a *new* device not work as it should on Linux but I expect people to solve the problems of older hardware due to it been out for a long time and I am sure I am not the only person ever to own a nVidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip. This is why time and time again – I keep saying that Windows (even though it costs money) beats this Linux hands down time and time again for the desktop – I shall be installing Windows 7 on this machine later.