Monday, 14 February 2011

The Lynx is Loose (Finally)

Today I treated myself to a new graphics card.

You may recall that I was unable to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) because the graphics card in my DELL Dimension 8400 wasn't supported and it simply couldn't cope with Lucid's graphical overhead. Ironically, when I began my Linux experiment, I promised myself that I wouldn't spend any more than the £100 required for a replacement hard-drive, however, over the intervening months, Ubuntu has become my primary operating system (completely replacing Windows) and recently I've been determined to find a way to upgrade to the latest release: hence the new graphics card.

I went with a Gainward GeForce GT220 (512MB) card which cost around £70. Opening the case and removing the existing card was simple enough, but the GT220 comes with a built-in fan and the casing wouldn't clear the sound card to fit into the expansion slot. Fortunately, the 8400 has a spare slot and I managed to rearrange the existing cards so that the motherboard would accommodate my latest acquisition: it took only a few minutes to complete the physical upgrade.

Next came the OS and this took a little longer.

You can force Ubuntu to keep track of major releases in its operating system via the settings option in the Update Manager.

Upgrading via the Update Manager allows you retain your existing files and settings post-installation and there's an additional benefit of not having to burn or check installation disks: something that I learned to my chagrin last time I attempted to upgrade! Nonetheless, this is no quick option and installing the new version of Ubuntu can still take a couple of hours. Clicking on the Upgrade button in the Update Manager starts the process.

You'll receive a warning message asking you to confirm your desire to start the process.

Just click the Start Upgrade button. The process will disable any third-party repositories during the download.

The Update Manager will also warn you of any unsupported applications post-upgrade:

Now all that you have to do is wait:

There are some options to select during the installation process, but these seem to be (mostly) self-explanatory.

Once the installation is complete, reboot the PC. Remember to enable any of the suspended repositories once you have rebooted.

I'm please to report that Lucid is running on my eight year old DELL Dimension and that all the visual effects are working as they should! Samba, video and flash all work without intervention and my files remain in tact! Thus far, my Linux experiment has cost under £200 (excluding the sunk cost of the pc) and I'm running a state-of-the-art system.

Well, almost: I sense another upgrade looming.

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