Ubuntu Dapper

Ubuntu set-up

For the following article I used Ubuntu 6-06 Dapper on a Dell 1405 laptop. But it is probably relevant for other linux distributions and hardware. Ubuntu on Dell 1405 laptop is a very pleasant experience. There are a couple of tricks to know but for the most part it’s straightforward.


Since the laptop uses a Core Duo, it is part of the 686 family of processors and needs SMP to use both cores. To get the support on Linux, install the linux-686-smp and linux-image-686 packages that are specifically tailored for this cpu. The equivalent 386 packages can be uninstalled. After rebooting with the new kernel, check that “$ less /proc/cpuinfo” shows 2 CPUs.

If you want to monitor the activity on both CPUs, the only app I found is gkrellm.

Video Card

The integrated Intel video card 945 is correctly recognized and is assigned the i810 driver. To get the correct resolution of 1280×800, you need to install an extra package named “915resolution”. From the description: “915resolution is a tool to modify the video BIOS of the 800 and 900 series Intel graphics chipsets. This includes the 845G, 855G, and 865G chipsets, as well as 915G, 915GM, and 945G chipsets. This modification is necessary to allow the display of certain graphics resolutions for an Xorg or XFree86 graphics server.”

Another issue was the fact that the screen was way too bright, to the point where some colors weren’t discernable.
Tweaking the gamma of the screen helps correct that. To change it temporarily, use xgamma:

$ xgamma -gamma 0.7

Or you can add a line in xorg.conf, in the monitor section:

Section "Monitor"
        Identifier      "Generic Monitor"
        Option          "DPMS"
        Gamma           0.7 0.7 0.7

Multi-screens (Xinerama)

Here is a copy of my xorg.conf, which combines the laptop’s screen and an external monitor to create a multiscreen desktop, using the xinerama module.

First you need to modify the device section to have 2 devices:

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"Intel Corporation Mobile Integrated Graphics Controller"
	Driver		"i810"
	BusID		"PCI:0:2:0"
	Screen	0
	Option "MonitorLayout" "CRT,LFP"

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"Intel2"
	Driver		"i810"
	BusID		"PCI:0:2:0"
	Screen	1
	Option "MonitorLayout" "CRT,LFP"

Add a monitor:

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier "Monitor2"
	Option "DPMS"

Add a screen:

Section "Screen"
Identifier "Screen2"
Device "Intel2"
Monitor "Monitor2"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "1280x1024"

Add a new ServerLayout. Use the options “RightOf” and “LeftOf” to position screens the way they are physically set up.

Section "ServerLayout"
	Identifier	"Multihead"
	Screen		"Default Screen"
	Screen		"Screen2" RightOf "Default Screen"
	InputDevice	"Generic Keyboard"
	InputDevice	"Configured Mouse"
	InputDevice     "stylus" "SendCoreEvents"
	InputDevice     "cursor" "SendCoreEvents"
	InputDevice     "eraser" "SendCoreEvents"
	InputDevice	"Synaptics Touchpad"

Finally add a ServerFlags section to enable xinerama:

Section "ServerFlags"
Option "xinerama" "true"
Option "DefaultServerLayout" "Multihead"

You just have to restart X after saving xorg.conf, and voila you have multi-screens.

Multi-screens (no Xinerama)

One problem with Xinerama is that it turns off the DRI, which means that any graphic-intensive or 3D app will be slow. For videos it should be okay if you use a xv driver instead of a gl one (make the change in your media player preferences). Another issue is that if you use a Wacom tablet, then the tablet will be set for the entire surface of all screens. A solution to those problems is to comment out the line that turns xinerama on:

Section "ServerFlags"
#Option "xinerama" "true"
Option "DefaultServerLayout" "Multihead"

When you restart X you will get 2 separate screens with DRI enabled. It’s not as cool as a true multi-screen, you cannot drag windows between monitors, but at least everything runs fast and the tablet works properly (see the Wacom section).

You can switch screens by moving the mouse. It is also possible to switch screens with the keyboard, thanks to the following program: http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~david.antliff/switchscreen-0.4.tar.gz.
Compile the program and put it in your /usr/local/bin. Then you just need to set-up a shortcut to run it. If your desktop is Gnome, open gconf-editor, go to apps/metacity (or an alternate window manager), and associate a keybinding to a command that executes switchscreen.


The Intel soundcard is correctly recognized and set up.

To have audio play correctly in Firefox (Flash videos tend to have sound issues), and any other app still using the oss system, you should use aoss. Install the alsa-utils package and modify /etc/firefox/firefoxrc to have FIREFOX_DSP=”aoss”. After restarting Firefox, you should be able to launch several video and have all sounds mixed correctly.


Using MPlayer, It is easy to play any type of video, on the desktop or within Firefox. After tweaking your repositories to encompass more packages, you should be able to install the mplayer, mplayer-686 and mozilla-mplayer packages. Then go to mplayer.com, download the package containing all codecs, and extract them in /usr/lib/codecs. Add two symbolic links /usr/lib/win32 and /usr/local/lib/codecs pointing to the /usr/lib/codecs folder, since the codecs might be expected in those places. Finally you need 2 additional plugin packages: avifile-win32-plugin and avifile-mjpeg-plugin. You should be all set to play any avi, quicktime, etc with diverse codecs.

Last, to play DVDs through mplayer, find and install the library libdvdcss.

Setting up a Wacom tablet

Very easy with the following tutorial: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Wacom

Once you got it working, you might want to tweak xorg.conf a little bit. To change the sensitivity of the tablet to the maximum, add the following lines to the first wacom section (only the first):

Section "InputDevice"
  Driver        "wacom"
  # Maximum sensitivity. Has to be only in first wacom section!
  Option        "Suppress"      "0"

Then you might want to have the same ratio width/height on the tablet and the screen, so as not to distort drawings. Add the following lines in each wacom sections:

Section "InputDevice"
  Driver        "wacom"
  # keep ratio of the screen on tablet
  Option        "TopX"          "0"
  Option        "TopY"          "0"
  Option        "KeepShape"     "on"

Last, if you are using multiple screens, you will probably want to limit the tablet to only one screen to keep a good precision. Use the ScreenNo option with the number of the screen you want, for each wacom device:

Section "InputDevice"
  Driver        "wacom"
  Option        "ScreenNo"      "0"

Save xorg.conf and restart X! Here is my own xorg.conf.


If you need to use accents with your keyboard (for example for french), you can select a pre-made X layout named “US with international variant”. To switch to this layout while X is running, use the command:

$xmodmap us intl

You can always switch back to normal us with:

$xmodmap us

To select it automatically when X start, modify the keyboard section in xorg.conf:

Section "InputDevice"
	Identifier	"Generic Keyboard"
	Driver		"kbd"
	Option		"CoreKeyboard"
	Option		"XkbRules"	"xorg"
	Option		"XkbModel"	"pc104"
	Option		"XkbLayout"	"us"
	Option 		"XkbVariant" 	"intl"

When using this layout, typing AltGr + letter will give an acute accent on the letter. The backquote ‘`’ becomes a dead letter: type it once followed by a letter, the letter will have a grave accent. Type it twice and you will get the ‘`’ character. The caret ‘^’ has the same behavior, and gives a circumflex accent.

This is all fine, but it redefines the apostrophe ‘'’ and double quote ‘”‘ as dead letters, even though they are used very often (especially in programming). To change that, modify a line in /etc/X11/xkb/symbols/us, in the intl section:

key <AC11> { [dead_acute, dead_diaeresis, apostrophe,        quotedbl ] };


key <AC11> { [apostrophe,   quotedbl, dead_diaeresis,      dead_acute ] };

To get a diaresis like ‘ë’, type AltGr + apostrophe, followed by the letter you want.
Here is my modified symbol us file.

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