Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Not So Headless Nick

A while ago, I hooked up my Aleutia Mini Atom PC to my Samsung TV. The experiment was not particularly successful as the Intel Atom D2700 processor is virtually unsupported by Linux and the best resolution I can manage is 1024 x 768 - not great on a 43" screen!

More trouble came with my preferred keyboard (a Logitech K400r), the wireless connection could be erratic and not all of the key presses made it to the screen - I'm sure that I don't need to tell you how frustrating that can be!

However, it was upgrading to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS that proved disastrous. The graphical interface was virtually unusable and the keyboard didn't connect at all. In defence of this setup, it was only ever intended to be used as a file server and never for use as a day-to-day machine: but, breaking it this badly required some repairs! My options seemed to be to revert to 12.04, explore a different OS or even, to install dedicated server software.

I've tried Mint before and I wondered if it's new MATE desktop might give me more support. So, I downloaded Mint 16 (code named, Petra & built on Saucy Salamander) and burned it to a DVD. I chose the MATE 32-bit with multimedia support and it ran beautifully from the Live Disk, so I bit the bullet and installed Mint 16 to the once headless PC.

The good news is that following installation, most of the hardware, including the keyboard ran at optimum levels and was definitely more responsive. The bad news is that the PC was stuck with a low resolution display and my bottom panel was missing! Fixing the missing panel was easy: opening terminal (Alt+F2) & then:


...gave me access to the Monitor Preferences dialog: here I just selected the Same image in all monitors option and my bottom panel reappeared.

I'll try fixing my resolution later, although I think that I'm probably stuck in low resolution mode for the rest of this machine's working life. Nonetheless, Mint is an absolutely beautiful OS and using it is a real blast from the past. I'll enjoy playing around with it for a week or two, but, as Petra's only supported until July 2014, I'll have to find a replacement soon.

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