*No I am not talking about a spiritual trip to Australia or about the animal; Karmic Koala is the latest version of the Linux distro Ubuntu :) *
So I decided to switch to Linux on my laptop; since I found it much better suited for programming than Windows 7. First thing I tried was to run Linux on a VirtualBox environment; though it did work quite beautifully; it still wasn’t ‘perfect’. Therefore I decided to do an actual install; and I chose Ubuntu as it is now more or less the de-facto Linux distro for a desktop (and also since I had a Ubuntu CD lying around). It was an adventure of sorts, so I decided to document all that I did; as a note for myself and also for any of you who wants to do this. But then if you don’t want to read the technical bla-bla; you can go right to the point here.
The first problem was that somehow my hard disk was partitioned as a ‘Dynamic’ volume; which is Microsoft proprietary and I had trouble getting the Ubuntu installation to understand this. So my first task was to revert the ‘Dynamic’ disk to ‘Simple’. It wasn’t as simple as I thought. But thanks to the Google, I managed to find a way. It involved using a low level hex editor to directly edit the values in the partition table. Detailed instructions are here. Now came another problem; as soon as I rebooted to Windows 7, only my first partition was visible. I was a bit scared that all my data was lost, but then I found this wonderful tool called as TestDisk. It scanned my disks and fixed my partition table for me. What a relief! I did a reboot and my happiness was short-lived – Windows 7 won’t boot anymore! Now I have lost my OS too. But this wasn’t as tricky as I thought. To fix that all I had to do was to boot with a Windows 7 setup disk and do a repair (the option comes right after you select the language). So now I finally had a working system with ‘Basic’ disks. Ubuntu now installed as a breeze and all was well.. that’s what I thought.
Now once Ubuntu was up and running, my display wasn’t working optimally. But to fix that all I had to do was to install the non-open-source drivers from ATI (which is easy to do from Ubuntu, look under System->Admin->Hardware Drivers). A happy few hours went by and it was time to watch IPL on YouTube when I realized that my sound card was not working. This was a major pain, I spent another few hours trying to figure this one out. The Ubuntu forum said that the solution was to install the backport drivers for ALSA.
sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-alsa-karmic-generic
Reboot and lo I had sound! But wait… my display driver is gone now. And now it was not possible to activate it anymore. The problem (my best guess, I am no linux guru) was that the ALSA install also updated my linux kernel version, which wasn’t supported by the display drivers. After another reboot into the older linux kernel version, I finally nailed it. The trick was to install the proper backport version instead of the karmic-generic one. The command is now:
sudo apt-get install linux-backports-modules-alsa-2.6.31-14-generic
You’ll have to replace the ‘2.6.31-14’ part to your linux kernel release number; which you can find by typing ‘uname -r’ on the terminal. Now I had sound and light! Awesome; finally a full fledged linux installation.