Ubuntu 18.04 on a Toshiba Portégé X30

In September 2018 a burglar stole my Portégé Z930.  I bought a Portégé X30-D-15D and installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, again hoping for five years of no-muck science productivity.  Again it took weeks of frantic and frustrating googling to cope with Ubuntu's evolution and to fine-tune it to my ancient way of work (no icon clicking but X-window terminals for typing commands, aliases, bin scripts).  Warning: these notes remain a snapshot anno September 2018.

Hardware comparison.   The Portégé X30-D-15D is similar to the Portégé Z930.  Doubled memory, doubled SSD, slightly faster, but 30% higher cost.  Keyboard: the Enter key went back to flush-right where it belongs.  The layout now replicates that of my 10-years old Portégé R600 but that still types better.  Also, the Z930's black key paint had flaked off so badly that their backlighting made characters illegible; I hope this ones fare better.  There is now a central knob aspiring to be a pointing device but useless (my past-millennium Atari ST-Book had a better pressure pad).  The frontside frame corners are now slightly less sharp.  The sound quality again improved, becoming acceptable for a clavichord but not much else.

The 1920x1080 screen is too much of an improvement over the Z930's 1366x768: too many horizontal pixels so that the icons in the Ubuntu top bar, Chrome, Skype and many other windows are too small and need scale-up to regain legibility; the result of doing that by font scale factor is simply that the icons and characters are sharper.  In older programs as xv, xfig and IDL widgets this scaleup doesn't work making clickers too small.  If the pixels must be this small I prefer 4/3 size 1440x1080 in a two-inches less wide laptop, as was the R600 which even contained a DVD/CD-rom station.  The R600 was thicker while thin is the fashion, but that is the dimension I care least about whereas weight, height and width define portability and aircraft-table fit.

The power supply became smaller again but now (in Europe) has a three-prong inlet needing a ground plug instead of the previous small fit-all Europlug, unwieldy and requiring a far less common earthed power socket, therefore requiring specific converters.  The power button got too-bright illumination.  I miss the former indicator lights for power-on, charging, battery status, disk activity (months later I found there are still two but on the bottom; you see them only when you lift the laptop).  The connectivity became bad so that you must now buy and bring extra gadgets in unfortunate aping of Apple's nasty approach to milk its customers.  No Ethernet jack anymore, no VGA connection anymore, micro-SD instead of the former versatile one.  Only one standard USB, on the wrong side for the mouse.  Two USB-C connectors of which one is taken by the charger since there is no charging socket anymore.  Both are on the right side so that the required extension gadgets obstruct mouse movement.  I bought an expensive Toshiba Travel Adapter to add ethernet that failed for speeds above 100 Mbps and had to be replaced by an equally expensive Goobay Multiport adapter, an USB-C to multiple USB-3 port replicator to connect my mouse, printer, and data disks, an SD-to-USB converter for my photographs, a conversion cable unsplitting the now combined microphone and speaker jacks, and a VGA to HDMI converter for projection.  I so join my poor Mac colleagues in toting a gadget bag and hoping I did not forget an essential implement.

Ubuntu installation.   Problematic once again.  I downloaded 18.04, at first confused that I needed the AMD version for my Intel chip.  I found an Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator in Ubuntu 12.04 on my old Portégé R600 and tried to produce a 18.04 boot stick, but the process stuck endlessly at the erase question.  Remedy: wipe the stick with sudo rm -rf *, remove it, re-enter, try again.  Starting up the X30 of course got me into Windows; remedy is to push power-off a long time, then back on while hammering F12 continuously to get into the boot choice.  From there the installer worked fine.  I chose English (USA) and Australia as environment, the latter antipodal preference to combine metric units, decimal points instead of commas, dates in English, A4 sheet size.

However, the first glance at and trials with the initial desktop were terrible.  I had read that Ubuntu discarded Unity and went back to Gnome, very much to my liking, but I hadn't expected that the trend to make computers behave as smartphones would have taken over Gnome's sensible layout so badly.  A dock with icons to click on as if I had a Mac.  No panels anymore but a top bar with tiny icons without hide buttons and without the non-iconized applications and places drop-down menus of before.  An ugly vertical column of workspaces without a mechanism to get my desired row of 12 named workspaces under the function keys.  Oops...  A webpost suggested I should switch to Xubuntu for proper workspaces.  I didn't thanks to the below.

Workspaces.   A panicky question on Askubuntu delivered instructions from a most helpful Vanadium.  Install the "Gnome Shell Integration" add-on for your browser.  Install the host connector with sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell.  (In 2018 one uses sudo apt rather than sudo apt-get).  Find and install Gnome extensions from their website reached with the new Gnome clicker icon in your browser by simply switching them on and clicking Install.  I needed Dash to panel, Hide top bar, Workspace grid, Workspace indicator, Window navigator, Steal my focus.  They are switched on already after the install from the browser (open a new terminal to see their effect) but some you have to find in gnome-tweaks > Extensions to select appropriate options.  I made the top bar contain the dock and auto-hide and adjusted the workspaces to 12 in a row, named with gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences workspace-names "['EML','WWW',...]", installed dconf-editor and set shortcut keys by descending to org.gnome.desktop.wm.keybindings and setting the 12 function keys to get to the 12 workspaces as I have had for decades.  Login again populates my workspaces with script initworkspaces with terminals and particular emacs sessions (to-do, diary), email windows, google-chrome.  The workspace indicator in the top bar is adequate but I liked the non-drop-down row of small named and clickable icons in the former panel far better, and also the former shifter since the new one is ugly large and doesn't map the window layout in each workspace thumbnail as the old one did.

Packages.   I made a list of all packages I thought to need from my notes on my previous Ubuntu installations, nearly a hundred, and installed them by first running cat packagelist.txt | xargs sudo apt -s  where -s checks on errors, then with -y to get them all jumping questions.  One package containing Microsoft stuff gave trouble in opening an awkward permission query, solved by rerunning from shell sh instead of my default tcsh.

Themes and fonts.   Gnome-tweaks-tool is still package gnome-tweak-tool but is now started by typing gnome-tweaks. Under fonts I first reset the scaling factor to 1.3 to enlarge the tiny icons, then played with font sizes choosing themes Adwaita, DMZ-white, Adwaita and theme font Ubuntu Regular 11.  The terminal fonts got set by rightclicking in a terminal body to get to Preferences; I eventually selected Monospace Bold 11 for the terminals (24 of them in my workspace layout) and DejaVu Sans Mono Book 11 for mutt in my two special mail windows (side-by-side for reading and answering in parallel).  Similarly DejaVu Sans Mono height 110 in the font specifier in .emacs (see my Linux pages) and in my to-do and diary session scripts.  The eventual result is that this new Toshiba presents nearly identical desktops as my previous one, the finer pixels just giving enhanced sharpness.

Missing libraries.   Some of my long-established daily workhorses needed 32-bit libraries no longer served by sudo apt install package.
IDL:  my IDL 6.4 wanted libxp6 found here.  To make IDL run with Hyper-c under IDLWAVE required undoing the "show overview" (Activities in Ubuntese) (de)faultly coupled to that key (the Windows flag; note also that in Ubuntese Super means Control) with gsettings set org.gnome.mutter overlay-key 'Alt+F1'.
xv:  this ancient but highly effective image viewer wanted old libraries I couldn't locate; fortunately I found the brilliant recipe to get it elsewhere.  Download the xv rpm from SuSE Leap 15 here which needed to delve into google-chrome Extra options to get permission to do so, install alien, run sudo alien xv-3.10a...rpm and sudo dpkg -i xv_3.10....deb.
GTK warnings:  Emacs, Acroread and other applications spewed endless most-irritating GTK warnings on their calling terminal.  Google taught me to get rid of them by installing: gnome-themes-standard, gtk2-engines-pixbuf, gtk2-engines-pixbuf:i386, gnome-themes-extra, gnome-themes-extra:i386, murrine-themes, libcanberra-gtk-module, libcanberra-gtk-module:i386, libatk-adaptor:i386.

Emacs.   Emacs still irritatingly flashes fake windows on my screen before opening the desired one.  I also found that if you have used a second monitor and switched it off but left the connector, emacs opens sessions on that non-existent screen unless you switch that off explicitly with xrandr.

Printer.   For my simple HP Deskjet printer I installed cups and went through the lengthy procedures given here.