More meltdown on the LilyPad

* Check the Glossary page if you don’t know what or who these are.


Technically, Untouchable* and Whitestar* weren’t broken-broken. Linux Mint Xfce installed and was workable. It just wouldn’t load updates. This brings me to a point of policy here at RFCC*. We try a lot of Linux distributions and only have a few no-go rules:

  • The installer and updater must work properly.
  • We must be able to load the distribution on Untouchable, Whitestar, and Defiant*.
  • It must boot and run properly on all three machines.
  • We must be able to load software with the package manager.

At the point that a distribution fails one of these requirements, it gets dumped. We usually don’t try to fix the problems. This, of course, is a generalization (If you don’t know RoboFrog’s point of view on generalizations, check the Scratchpad page.). But I don’t have a lot of control over…HIM*. Sometimes HE* gets curious and just has to tinker. I think it’s a waste of time, but when HE gets in a mood there’s no stopping HIM.

“Relax. This isn’t a problem,” HE says. HE immediately picks up the Xubuntu Xfce 11.10 installation disk and starts loading Xubuntu onto Untouchable. There’s not much to say at this point. Untouchable is already broken. HE can’t make it much worse.


Xubuntu easily loaded onto Untouchable and presented a very attractive Xfce screen. The update manager signaled and all updates loaded perfectly. I had to give HIM credit. There seemed to be a lot to like here. I turned around and HE was already loading Xubuntu onto Whitestar. I held my breath. As I said, we have more trouble with new installations on Whitestar than any other machine. Surprise! No problems. And of course, HE immediately started loading Xubuntu onto Defiant.

Xubuntu loaded and updated without incident on all three machines. This almost never happens. Whitestar, usually our problem child, had no problems. Defiant, our second most troublesome machine, also loaded without incident…wireless worked immediately, trackpad tap and scrolling worked. I was getting pretty optimistic. Maybe one of the *buntu’s was finally going to be a favorite at RFCC. Then HE loaded all of our software. Still no problems. All of our critical applications were available. HE had the file server running on Whitestar with Untouchable and Defiant talking to it. I was impressed. I told HIM that I would take it from there and get all the backup files on the appropriate machines.

I double-clicked on the filemanager (Thunar)…and nothing happened. Well, maybe it missed the double-click. I double-clicked again. Nothing. I stared at the screen considering the possibilities. About ten seconds later, the filemanager window popped up along with a dialog box describing permission problems and such. Hmmmm. Then another filemanager window along with the same dialog box showed up. So, the system got both double-clicks and just had to think about them for a really long time. What was displayed in the filemanager window was fine; it just took a long time to get there and it brought along the dialog box with its cryptic error message. I closed both filemanager windows, both dialog boxes, and double-clicked again so I could see how long it took for the filemanager to come up. It popped up immediately with no error message. Okay, well that happens sometimes. Maybe the system has worked the problem out. Rebooted and tried again. Nope. Took almost twenty seconds for Thunar to come up and it brought the error message with it. I tried again with the same result. Finally, on the third try, Thunar came up immediately with no error message. We had the same result with all three machines.

I went to the Internet to see if anyone else was having this problem. Yep, but it wasn’t perceived to be a big problem. Since the filemanager is a program that we use a lot, for us, it was a deal-breaker. Time to dump Xubuntu and look for something else. We’re running out of options. Only Fedora Xfce left…And…now you know how Defiant got dragged into this mess. All three machines down at the same time.

One final comment about Xubuntu on Defiant: My wireless modem is in the RFCC (basement). Wireless worked perfectly in the RFCC, but Defiant gets used a lot upstairs (two floors above). Upstairs, Xubuntu wouldn’t hold a lock on the wireless signal. It  connected during boot and everything looked fine. Then, it would hold the signal for about ten minutes…maybe. Once the signal was lost, I couldn’t get it to reconnect. The only way to restore the wireless connection back was to reboot. This is the only time I’ve ever had this problem with Defiant. Other Linux distributions (in fact, every other Linux distribution I’ve tried) will hold the lock all day. This, by itself, was reason enough for a no-go with Xubuntu.

This really isn’t a blog focused on reviewing Linux distributions. We got ourselves into a mess, though, and it put us offline for a week. We’re actually interested in content creation and we’re coming back to that.  This problem, though, underscores the importance of the post we intended before the meltdown (which we’re getting back to, I promise). Before that, though, Fedora Xfce…next time.

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