Ubuntu on a Fujitsu Lifebook S6520

The fact that Ubuntu would work where Debian would not was a complete surprise to me, because Ubuntu is a derivative of Debian. I almost skipped trying it out. If I would not already have downloaded the install disk, I would have installed openSuse. However, I have Debian on my office PC, and I wanted to keep management of the two as simple as possible. So I gave it a shot, not really expecting much. I am glad I did.

Following is a list of what works and does not. It more or less follows linlap. Remember that this applies to Ubuntu 9.04 downloaded May 2009. Things may be different when you read this.

  1. Processor: Works. Both the 64 bit and 32 bit kernels work in fact. However, the 64 bit kernel does not run any of my existing 32 bit executables. It complains "command not found." How do you mean "command not found," idiot? They are right in front of your nose! Another one of those completely useless Unix error messages. In any case, I am not willing to try recompiling all my countless binaries, especially with the g77 compiler no longer available. So I use the good old 32 bit kernel. Disclaimer: whether both cores of the dual core are used, I do not know.
  2. Screen: It works great, and that is a real surprise. Even dim works. With an external monitor attached, the laptop display wants to stay on (until sleep). Apparently, the idea is that you will put some stuff on the monitor and keep other stuff on the laptop display. Do people actually do that? However, I found that if I partly close the lid, the laptop display goes out and stays out. If a monitor is attached, the software will automatically switch from the 1280x800 WXGA wide display to a more suitable 1024x768 non wide format. Screensaver works: I use blank screen and password.
  3. Power: Works. My UPS is recognized. On battery power, it recognizes the battery discharging and predicts lifetime. Suspend works. Hibernate works.
  4. HDD: Works. NTFS (Windows) partitions also mount automagically. So do USB disks and firewire disks.
  5. Optical Drive: Works fine for playing movie DVDs after installing VLC and libdvdcss. The graphical operating system will NOT write iso images to blank disks. The reason is that the reliable dvd+rw tools have been replaced by one of those horrible gnome packages, this one called Brasero. Without asking permission, it doubles writing time to write a checksum to the disk, then finds that it managed to corrupt the disk while doing so. Not a random error, repeatable. Unfortunately, the operating system is not smart enough to fall back on the good old dvd+rw tools (which are still installed) even when Brasero is uninstalled. Fortunately, your .iso images can still be written to disk using the command line. Decline any help from the pop-up menu. Instead from a terminal, issue the command:
       growisofs -dvd-compat -Z /dev/dvd=aptoncd-20090530-DVD1.iso
    where you replace the name after the equals sign with whatever .iso file you want to burn to disk. Prepend "Desktop/" if the file is there. It is ugly, but it works, and is a lot faster too.
  6. Graphics: Works. Disclaimer: I do not use heavy graphics and my laptop does not have the chrome graphics card.
  7. Sound: Works. System sounds work. Movie DVD sounds work. However, don't expect games and such to have decent sound effects: that is a traditional Linux problem.
  8. Ethernet: Works.
  9. Wireless: Seems to be working. It found three networks and connected to some Belkin network. Don't ask me from who. The neighbors?
  10. Bluetooth: Not Tested. I have it but keep it turned off. I have no bluetooth devices I can test it on, either. The operating system is aware that bluetooth is present.
  11. Modem: The build-in modem is a Winmodem, (not a real modem, but a software emulation of one), and WILL NOT work under Linux. I bought a PCMCIA modem for my previous Lifebook, and that one still works on the S6520. You need wvdial. Protect your passwords! Unfortunately, every time you start Firefox, it comes up offline even if the modem is connected. You must manually set it to online in the file menu. Somewhat of an annoyance, but maybe not if you always keep Firefox running.
  12. USB: Works. USB sticks, USB mouses, USB disks, USB keyboard, USB scanner, all confirmed.
  13. Firewire: My old firewire hotdrive disk works. However, the firewire port has been moved to the front of the laptop (it is really intended for DV cams, not hard disks), so I am now using a USB hook-up for the WD firewire/USB disk I still use.
  14. Card Reader: SD card worked fine in read and write in the build-in card reader port. External SD card reader on my WD also works for SD. I do not have other media.
  15. PCMCIA: Works. Runs my modem.
  16. Fingerprint Reader: Ain't got one. What happens if the reader no longer likes my fingerprint for some reason of its own? And my password I have an option of refusing. My fingerprint can be used while I am dead.
  17. Webcam: Works. Cheese has no trouble displaying its output and taking pictures and videos with it.
  18. Docking station works fine. My parallel printer hooked to the docking station also works.

Applies to software obtained May 2009.
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