I prefer to buy old hardware, fix it up a little, install and tune my preferred Linux desktop OS (can’t help but keep coming back to Xubuntu), then run my desktop PC’s into the ground. Even when I do finally replace them, it’s usually with something I picked up from ebay for under £100. I don’t send the old ones to the dumpster though. They get a fresh rebuild and are gifted to the parents, who despite their unhealthy obsession with purchasing technology (a trait they didn’t inherit from me), love the rapid performance, simple looks, and “it just works” nature of Xubuntu. Despite consulting in I.T. and knowing far more than any mortal should have to know just to get my stuff working well, I find as I get older and busier, I get less and less tolerant to tech that doesn’t work. Especially when I’ve paid good money for it. Luckily Xubuntu is free, so when I hit a snag, I am a little more tolerant and the open source community always provides some quick, convenient, command line solution.
Since Apple is proprietary hardware and software, consumers would be right to expect it to work perfectly. Most hardware is made with Windows PC’s in mind so once the drivers are installed, consumers would be right to expect a half way decent level of performance too. Many people are quick to blame Linux when something doesn’t quite work properly, but I never see Linux itself being the root cause of the problem. It’s either the Broadcom wireless chipset that’s the problem, as it’s been blacklisted by the kernel due to its lack of security (something that can still be reversed), or in this case the embedded Intel video chipset in my old, trusty HP D530 SFF PC that defaults to 16 bit colour.
Rather than throw £15 away on an AGP graphics card to go in it, the open source community once again comes to the rescue with a simple and effective “hack” to force the Default Screen to use 24 bit colour.
As root, create a file /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/00-xorg.conf that contains the following lines…
Identifier “Default Screen”
Then reboot. After logon you’ll notice the wallpaper is not so blocky. £15 saved. Parents happy.