Ubuntu 8.10 on a Toshiba Portégé R600

Warning:  this section remains a snapshot anno spring 2009.

In the below, [install:  XXX] is shorthand for:
    sudo apt-get install XXX
which needs addition of extra "repositories" = software collections: System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager > Settings > Ubuntu Software; check all on except Source code, and under Third-Party Software check on intrepid extras and medibuntu. Similar commands are:
   sudo apt-get remove XXXX
   sudo apt-get install --reinstall XXX
   sudo dpkg --purge --force-remove XXX

Installation.   I followed then extent guidelines now gone. I installed version 8.10, writing the installation CD on my MacBook Pro, with checksum check.  In a Toshiba press F12 during power-up to get the boot menu, cursor to the CD icon.  First check the installation CD, then boot from it.  I wiped Windows off the disk but six 1.5 GB Toshiba partitions remain.  There is 272 GB left for me, I wonder where the rest went.

Shell.   Long ago I was advised to use the csh shell and therefore my many scripts and aliases use csh syntax (setenv VARIABLE something;  alias aliasname 'something').  Ubuntu has bash as default shell, while csh did not give me tab completion and cursor history.  On the advice of a colleague I tried tcsh which does combine those with csh syntax, and so tcsh became my choice:  [install:  csh] and [install:  tcsh].  I then followed a Googled advice to change the symbolic link /bin/sh to tcsh which killed all rebooting so that I ended up having to reinstall Ubuntu including a full disk wipe.  This time I added tcsh at the end of ~/.bashrc, typed chsh -s /usr/bin/tcsh, and have the following (with some more not shown here) in ~/.cshrc:

  # resource .alias
  source ~/.alias

  # switch from VI to EMACS
  setenv EDITOR emacs-snapshot

  # add local dir scripts to path
  set path=( . $path )

  # LaTeX and BibTeX paths 
  setenv TEXINPUTS ~/tex/macros:~/tex/styles:
  setenv BIBINPUTS ~/bib:~/tex/styles:
  setenv BSTINPUTS $BIBINPUTS

  # IDL paths
  setenv IDL_PATH +/usr/local/itt/idl64/lib:~/idl/rjrlib:~/idl/textoidl:
  setenv IDL_DIR /usr/local/itt/idl64/

  # define prompt = user@machine/dir>
  set prompt="rob@tosh:%c3> "   
Some aliases in my ~/.alias:
  alias cd 'setenv OLDDIR $cwd; chdir \!*'
  alias back 'setenv BACKDIR $OLDDIR; cd $BACKDIR'
  alias cdl 'cp ~/.cdldummy cdldummy; db; cd \!*; l'
  alias ls 'ls -aF'
  alias l 'ls'
  alias ll 'ls -l'
  alias pwd 'echo $cwd'
  alias cleanM 'dos2unix -q \!^; chmod 644 \!^'
  alias dud 'du -h --max-depth=\!^'
  alias findbelow 'find . -name \*\!^\* -print'
  alias rmbelow 'find .  -maxdepth 6 -name \*\!^ -exec rm -f {} \;'
  alias rm 'rm -i \!*'
  alias db 'rm -rf cdldumm* .saves* core* nul*.log #*# *.bak *.BAK MAI* *~* .*~ .#* .nfs* .DS_* ._.DS* .localiz*'
  alias rmtex 'rm -f *.aux *.dvi *.lis *.blg .*log *.log #*# *.bak  *.BAK  *.inx MAI* *~* fileentries.* ; l'

Passwords.   The following password removals may be considered for laptops like mine which are not very likely to be ever touched by somebody unfriendly.  I haven't tried the R600's fingerprint reader.
Remove the root password check by sudo (near the end):  https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RootSudo
Avoid the Gnome wake-up password check after suspending by calling sudo pm-suspend instead of lid closure.

Fan control.   The R600's fan operated unbearably noisily at large speed after the Ubuntu install.  Eventually, I ventured into the BIOS (press ESC during powerup, hit F1).  On the second BIOS page (PGDN) I changed battery mode > user settings and cooling method > battery optimized.  The fan is then mostly off, but it frequently kickstarts momentarily with a loud whoosh, for example at every opening of an emacs window.  Between whooshes you only hear the spinning harddisk, not silent either but at least quieter than the fan.  I also found that choosing battery mode > performance (apparently meaning "not high performance" in Toshiba-speak) has the fan running at low speed without whooshes, but still too loud for me. Also, the toshset fan commands did work in the battery optimized mode (but not if I touced the cooling method with toshset -c which flipped its BIOS setting back to cooling optimized) .  I then found that after suspend or hibernation the fan returned to maximum noise with an error response to toshset.  Since frequent BIOS resetting is not a desirable solution, I googled more and found an older voodoo recipe:  "remove /usr/share/initramfs-tools/hooks/thermal" which worked.  The same ex-student who took care of my earlier Portégé then happened to visit and hacked an 1/8 fan setting into the toshset code.  Charles Schwieter's newest toshset includes it as mode 5 (labeled "on"; ignore the error message).  I don't hear the fan above the harddisk now and it doesn't whoosh either.  I can live with the noise now, but may switch to a solid state disk when they become affordable and bootable.  The fan restarts after suspend through this script in /etc/pm/sleep.d:

  #!/bin/bash
  # file: fan-on = switch fan on at 1/8
  # note: see http://en.opensuse.org/Pm-utils#Creating_your_own_hooks
  case "$1" in
      hibernate|suspend)
        # Stopping is not required.
          ;;
      thaw|resume)
        sudo toshset -fan 5
          ;;
      *) exit $NA
          ;;
  esac

Workspace shifter, panel.   I had much trouble with the workspace switcher freezing up the laptop if workspace shift-left or shift-right keys were defined instead of disabled in System > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts and used within an Emacs window.  Unfreezing: CNTRL+ALT+F1 (another session), then CNTRL+ALT+F7 (your session).  The eventual solution was simple but hidden in confusing Ubuntu webposts: System > Preferences > Assistive technologies, uncheck "Enable assistive technologies", whatever that is.  I use 12 workspaces available under F1 - F12 and shift with CNTRL cursor-left and CNTRL cursor-right.  I deleted the lower panel and have the shifter in the upper panel with three-letter names for the workspaces to keep their icons narrow (tex, idl, eml, web, etc).  I usually shift the panel out of view to have a maximum clean screen.  Shifting left and right presents an excellent iconized indicator that stays as long as CNTRL is pressed.  I minimized the panel hide buttons by checking auto-hide in the panel Properties menu (right-click on a hide button), uncheck arrows, and typing gconf-editor, then > apps > panel > default_setup > top_panel > auto_hide_size 6 > 1.

Wireless, nm-applet.   Much trouble too.  My home wireless (hidden ADSL) came up by itself, asking for security settings, but later I lost the corresponding applet, called nm-applet and appearing as a blue four-pipe organ in the panel.  I lost it unknowingly, probably when trying to re-arrange panel applets by removing the spacers showing as vertical lines.  I so lost wireless adaptability; only restart (loosing my session) would restore a connection, also for ethernet at work.  Misleading Ubuntu discussions made me first [install:  wifi-radar], then [install:  wicd] which removed network-manager and wifi-radar, and then backtrack with [reinstall: network-manager-gnome] which removed wicd.  The eventual solution was the realization that this nm-applet is a special one belonging to a "Notification Area" on the panel which I had removed entirely.  It was restored by:  right-click vacant area in panel > add to panel > notification area, which brought the nm-applet back, and also the Update Manager that I hadn't missed yet.

Second monitor / beamer / projector.   (Linguistic note:  in the USA "beamer" means a BMW car.)  Getting the VGA output to work also took much googling.  My solution is a combination of toshset (see http://www.schwieters.org/toshset) and xrandr (see http://www.graphics-muse.org/wp/?p=336) which I combined in csh aliases to switch output to different types of external monitors on and off:

  alias vga-open 'sudo toshset -video both'
  alias vga-beamer 'vga-open; xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1024x768 --output VGA --mode 1024x768'
  alias vga-home 'vga-open; xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1280x800 --output VGA --mode 1280x960'
  alias vga-work 'vga-open; xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1280x800 --output VGA --mode 1280x1024'
  alias vga-off 'sudo toshset -video int; xrandr --output LVDS --mode 1280x800 --output VGA --off'
If I boot the laptop with the external cable connected, the external screen becomes the principal one and the resolution only XVGA (1024x768).

Cursor blink off.   gconftool-2 --set "/desktop/gnome/interface/cursor_blink" --type boolean "False"

Caps-lock to Compose key.   Go to System > Preferences > Keyboard > Layouts > Other options > Compose key position, check:  Caps Lock is Compose. I agree with Tina Russell that switching caps-lock off in its own menu would be easier to find and less annoying.  I don't need Compose, being a latex typer.

Emacs.   Also gave me much trouble.  Ubuntu's default version (emacs22) offered no fonts that I can work with.  After far too much googling and trials the rescue came from http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-803119.html:  [Install:  emacs-goodies-el] and use emacs-snapshot-gtk with font monospace-10 specified in ~/.Xresources.  Run xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources after changing this file.  I use color theme feng-shui specified in ~/.emacs.  In my case, not all color themes M-x color-theme-select were available; type M-x color-theme- in another emacs window and hit tab, the possible completions then show what you can choose from.  Emacs key bindings in firefox:
   gconftool-2 --set /desktop/gnome/interface/gtk_key_theme Emacs --type string

Latex, bibtex, xdvi.   Ubuntu's default tex installation failed my first test.  The solution from https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LaTeX was to [install: texlive-full].  It added as much as 800 MB, mostly support for languages that I will never use.  It made my test work, but I would be happier with some partial installer for a few selected languages only.  (Later I found that [install:  texlive-latex-extra] and [install:  texlive-bibtex-extra] provide smaller selections).  For xdvi I habitually use alias:
    alias xdvitex 'xdvi -offsets 15mm -expert +statusline -bg White -geometry 920x680+100+75 -s 5 !^ &'

Acrobat reader.   To install acroread follow the recipe in http://ubuntu-tutorials.com/2008/06/23/install-adobe-acrobat-reader-812-on-ubuntu-804, which needs the Medibuntu repository.  Acroread also serves to steal pdf figures from publications:  > Tools > Select & Zoom > Snapshot Tool > cut out the desired figure > 3rd mouse > print > print to file > specify figfile.eps.  Cut to bounding box with epstopdf and pdfcrop --margins 5,  convert to projector-size XVGA png with convert -density 300 -geometry 1024x768 -background white -flatten figfile-crop.pdf figfile.png.

Firefox.   [Install:  msttcorefonts].  I copied the Safari bookmarks from my Mac by installing Mac application Bookmarks Exporter there, exporting to bookmarks.html, pull that over into the R600, Firefox > Bookmarks > Organize bookmarks > Import and Backup > Import html.  Videos:  [remove:  gnash] and [install:  flashplugin-nonfree].  When Firefox takes long to open a save or print specification window, reboot the laptop.  When these windows go haywire, run firefox -safe-mode and click "Reset toolbars and controls" on.

Skype.   This also gave me a lot of trouble.  Installation from http://www.skype.com/intl/en/download/skype/linux requires following the recipe at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Skype, but without uninstall of pulseaudio and replacement with esound.  Switch off Skype control over your mixer.  Getting the microphone on was the hardest.  Go to Applications > Sound & Video > Sound recorder > File, switch Capture on.  Under File > Open volume control.  Device:  HDA Intel (Alsa mixer).  Under Playback open Master and PCM, close both microphones, all sliders to full.  Under Recording both speaker and mike on, slider to full.  Under Options make Front Mic input source.  Under Preferences check all.  Then System > Preferences > Sound check Master, PCM, and Microphone, or all of them (press SHIFT and CNTRL).  That also makes the volume wheel control your music.  I find the microphone quality bad.

Google Earth.   This also gave me trouble:  [install: googleearth] from the Medibuntu repository just hang.  The version 5 binary from http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html installed properly but crashed immediately.  Version 4.3 worked but after that my sudo apt-get install didn't work anymore, stopping at some incomplete googlearth-4.2 operation.  Eventually I got it to work again with sudo dpkg --purge --force-remove googlearth-4.2. I haven't tried the GPS inside the R600.  Connecting Google Earth with Earth Bridge needs Microsoft I fear.  The SIM slot is hidden behind the battery and not mentioned in my documentation.  I guess the card should be out when using the laptop in a plane. 

Images.   Installation of the vintage but very useful image viewer xv from John Bradley was grievingly problematic.  I followed no longer extant recipes.  This versatile viewer also accepts astronomical fits files.  It doesn't work properly:  the window shifts between images.  The [Install:  gthumb] viewer is good for photograph display, rotation, show-list selection, Exif display.  Faster image viewers are [Install:] feh, qiv, gqview, eog.