Ziggy's Got Stripes

As mentioned previously, I’ve been playing with Ubuntu off and on for a couple years now. Ziggy is a Dell Inspiron laptop I picked up refurbished when I thought I was moving to New York City and would find a more portable computer helpful in living there. That plan never gelled, so I found myself with an unneeded laptop.

If it’s not necessary, that opens it up to experimentation! I had an Ubuntu disc hanging around since finding a display box of them tucked away in the stacks of the Fletcher Free Library, but by the time I got around to understanding what it really signified and deciding it was time to do something interesting with this laptop, they were a couple versions on, maybe somewhere in the 8.x range.

That went well enough, although there was a lot of fiddling with the network and wireless cards, as I recall. It was only somewhere around 10.04 or 10.10 that a real, persistent glitch cropped up: the lines.

Oh, those lines. They cropped up all the time, typically on start up or login. The whole screen showed nothing but vertical multicolored lines. The computer was still thinking behind those lines, but you’d be typing blind to do anything. On doing some forum searches, I’d find an apparent fix to the problem, which would inevitably break some way down the line, probably because of software updates that didn’t take into account any modifications I’d made to Ziggy.

The problem was that I’d never remember what I had done to stop the lines appearing, so I’d have to go through the whole rigamarole again. Most recently, ZIggy languished for maybe six months as I failed to find the solution again and gave up tinkering with it. My recent success with Abulafia gave me confidence to try again . . . and I horribly borked Ziggy, changing something in the config files such that even GRUB wouldn’t load properly.

Fortunately, I was bright enough to boot from a CD, connect to the wireless router and pull all the files of interest before wiping over everything with a fresh installation of 9.10, the most recent version of Ubuntu I was confident worked reliably without the lines issue. And it did!

Having brought Ziggy back into the realm of usefulness, I immediately got the itch to bring it up to date. Ubuntu 9.10 isn’t a long term support release, so the software updates were minimal. 9.10 worked fine, but I had an itch to scratch. Choosing to risk dealing with the lines again, I ran the update to 10.04.3, which is a long term support release.

Things seemed fine at first. The first few restarts, everything worked great. I thought I’d somehow beat the lines without trying. Then they started cropping up. My eternal nemeses!

Fortunately, this time I found some forum threads that went more in-depth on the issue. I discovered putting Ziggy to sleep would half-resolve the issue; I could see the desktop, but there would often be oddities like an invisible mouse pointer or Gnome Do popups that wouldn’t close. At least that was enough to get me to a point where I could more easily edit configuration files.

And I think I’ve got it sorted, at least until the next update. Adding nomodeset to GRUB’s default list of commands — right after quiet splash


About Tyler

In the wilds of Vermont.
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