Sunday, May 03, 2009

Utter Geek Boast

Last monday my main computer decided it didn't want to work anymore. It started showing all the signs of an overheated system with sudden crashes and hanging on rebooting.

One of my main forms of fantasizing is building imaginary computers, so I had a rough idea of what I wanted.

Any computer I built would have to be Linux and Windows friendly. So all components would require support under both OS's.

I had a perfectly good hard drive, graphics card and dvd burner for recycling into the new box.

What was needed was a new motherboard, cpu, power supply, memory, cpu fan and a case. A new hard drive wasn't really needed but would certainly simplify installing a dual boot system.

As for operating systems, I still have a perfectly good copy of Windows XP Pro (32 bit) and I still really like Ubuntu. I did decide to switch from regular 32 bit Ubuntu to 64 bit Ubuntu.

I ordered the parts on Tuesday. By Friday they had all arrived. On Thursday I downloaded all the drivers and did some research. Friday I continued my research in between work assignments.

Saturday morning, I got up, ate a good breakfast fixed my coffee and headed into our living room with my laptop (which turned out to be unnecessary), the old computer, a monitir, keyboard and mouse as well as the new components.

It was easily the smoothest build I have ever had. I highly recommend each and every item purchased. They all had decent instructions. All parts required were provided.

I used a live cd of Ubuntu 64 for boot testing. It booted readily.

For the OS install I used a couple of sleazy geek tricks. I never really uninstalled Windows from the old system. I merely re-wrote Grub so that it wouldn't boot to Windows (I am nothing if not lazy). To get Windows on the new computer, I re-re-wrote Grub on the old hard drive and turned it back into a dual booter. I then removed Ubuntu completely (after backing up all data). Booting back into Windows, I then removed all proprietary drivers, rendering Windows what one poster called 'agnostic'.

When the old hard drive was installed as the primary hard drive in the new system, it booted smoothly into Windows. There were an awful lot of nagging messages about finding new hardware, but the proper application of installation cd's soon cleared them up.

The next step was installing Ubuntu for a true dual boot. The computer had already booted twice from a Live Ubuntu cd so I knew it wouldn't be difficult. It wasn't. All devices were detected and configured. The dual boot was correctly set up.

In the whole process there was only one hitch.

We have a HP officejet 6500 all-in-one that I use almost exclusively as a scanner. The proprietary HP software had crashed when I installed it last week. It worked out of the box in Linux, so that is why I had 'uninstalled' Windows. Reinstalling Windows brought back the old bad installation. To make matters worse, when I installed Linux Ubuntu, it asked if I wanted it to transfer over my Windows files and setting. I foolishly clicked 'yes'. That meant that the scanner was borked in both Windows and Ubuntu.

I knew that it was futzed in Windows so I removed all the proprietary HP software and did a minimal install of just the drivers. Windows XP comes with a photo and scanning wizard that is bare bones but usable. I didn't realize that the printer was unusable with Linux until I tried it late yesterday. After a great deal of aggravation, I resolved the issue this morning.

The great irony is that the scanner was horrible with the HP Windows software. It is decent with the Windows barebones software. It is excellent in Linux. Xsane (a Linux scanning application) is poorly documented, but richly featured. It is fast, very configurable and plays well with others. HP supports their devices very well indeed in Linux.

All in all, it's been a fun, if very geeky, weekend.

10 comments:

wewa said...

hy,
I've also bought a hp officejet 6500 today.
But I don't get the included scanner working under linux (ubuntu 9.04 64bit). Do you have some hints for me, to get it working?

Thanks
wewa

Matthew said...

h HPLIP (latest) installed. What issue, exactly, are you seeing? Is sane not spotting the scanner? or is it seeing it and not working?

wewa said...

sane does not find the scanner

Matthew said...

This thread has some good troubleshooting tips: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1049612&highlight=sane+scanner . Just adapt the Epson stuff to HP.

Wewa said...

ok, thanks so far

i'll try this out

Wewa said...

no chance to get it working

I've tried to add the usb id's of my scanner to different hp*.conf files. But this doesn't help.

I also can't add myself to a 'scanners'-group cause such a group doesn't exist on my system.

The only thing you had to get your scanner working is to install the actual HPLIP?

Matthew said...

I did have a hiccup a few days ago, when Ubuntu firmly refused to recognize my scanner. I tried any number of solutions. What finally worked was that I unmounted the 6500, pulled the usb plug, rebooted, then reattached the usb cord. I then tries the detect scanner and list scanner commands. It was detected and sane had no problems (still can't get gscan2pdg to work and have no idea why not).

I'm not saying the above procedure will work (I am a newb at linux), but it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

What I did not do the second install was use or configure the printing stuff until after I knew the scanner was working.

I hope this helps.

Wewa said...

and how did you ounmount him?

Matthew said...

Delete the printer under 'printers' in the Administration' tab.

Wewa said...

hey, now i got the scanner working

only thing to do, was to install the LATEST hplip

the problem was that the hplip in the official ubuntu respository was not the latest one, i had to manually download and install it

thanks for your help