Posted by: reformedmusings | June 1, 2009

Going back to 64-bit in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty

I wrote about my bumpy hardware upgrade in this post. To recap briefly, I’m now running a Gigabyte EP45-UD3L motherboard with an Intel Q9650 Core 2 Quad CPU and 8 GB OCZ Platinum DDR2 SDRAM. All this booted initially under 32-bit Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty, which only recognized 3.2 GB of RAM. It was plenty fast, but was not the final goal. I needed a 64-bit operating system to claim my 8 GB of memory. I originally started with 64-bit Ubuntu a few years ago, but encountered too many issues and switched to 32-bit. Now was the time to try again.

One reason I picked this particular motherboard was that it supported pseudo RAID in BIOS. I had been running RAID1 under the NVidia 650i chipset. After cranking up the BIOS with the Intel P45 chipset and ICH10R bridge setup, I started to set up the RAID1 array. It proved a fairly simple process. I got right up to the execute step when the BIOS provided the dreaded warning that all data would be lost on the hard drives. Hmmm, that seems terribly unnecessary just to write the RAID superblocks. Although I backed up my data before starting the upgrade, I did not want to lose my custom setup details. It would take a long time to reconstruct. There’s a chance that the BIOS was overstating the risk, but I wasn’t taking that chance. So, after picking this board for its RAID support, I opted not to use it rather than risk wiping my drives.

That leads directly to Linux’ excellent software RAID using mdadm. I had used this approach before and it worked great. Best of all, it’s portable across hardware setups so I don’t  have to do this again. I proceeded with the Ubuntu 9.04 x86_64 alternate installation CD because the standard Live CD doesn’t handle RAID arrays. I followed the instructions from Martti Kuarinen. Martti provides an outstanding step-by-step guide that’s simple to follow. Only one problem – superblocks were still on the disks from previous RAID installations. That caused no end of problems, including the inability to get past the partitioning step of the installation. I was beginning to believe the folks who warn against fakeRAID installations.

It took some time to rid the disks of those superblocks. While the primary partition was still bootable, I started it up and ran:

sudo dmraid -r -E

in a terminal to list and interactively delete all the superblocks related to the NVidia psuedoRAID setup. This is a safe process because you can choose not to clear the superblocks for selected disks if you so desire. I thought that would free up the new installation, but not so fast…

It turned out that one disk still had the superblocks from a previous software RAID setup on two partitions and Ubuntu kept wanting to use them. To erase those superblocks, I followed Martti’s example, but during the disk partitioning step I selected the RAID partitions with remaining superblocks and then selected “Delete MD device”. This didn’t wipe the partitions, rather it only deleted the offending superblocks. It took a while to figure all this out given the competing superblocks, but once I cleared them all everything proceeded without issue using Martti’s howto.

After completing the installation and rebooting the system, Ubuntu Jaunty x86-64 appeared in all its glory. It only occupied 237 MB of RAM, even with a lot of my setup already running. Despite several runs through the partitioning during installation attempts, my /home partition survived intact. Better yet, my entire setup came up as if nothing changed except for those panel applications that needed to be reinstalled. Compiz Fusion even remembered my 3D desktop settings and implemented them once I installed the proprietary NVidia drivers which Jaunty recommended.

HINT: When Ubuntu comes up the first time on installation and cannot find some of your previous panel apps, it will ask you if want to delete the startup references to them. Answer NO if you want to keep them. After you reinstall those panel apps and restart, they will load normally with your previous settings. In my case, I reinstalled lm-sensors, ran “sensors-detect”, had the script save the resulting sensor information in the startup profile, then restarted. I also reinstalled programs that previously had icons on the panel but left blank spaces after the clean installation. I performed my usual “full function” steps (modified for Jaunty) and reinstalling my favorite programs therein, as well as Krusader and other favorites. Upon reboot, all the correct sensors came up as before and the app icons on the panel reappeared! Piece of cake.

I also checked the RAID1 setup as follows:

bob@bob-ubuntu:~$ grep /dev/md /etc/fstab
# / was on /dev/md0 during installation
# /home was on /dev/md1 during installation
# swap was on /dev/md2 during installation
bob@bob-ubuntu:~$ cat /proc/mdstat
Personalities : [linear] [multipath] [raid0] [raid1] [raid6] [raid5] [raid4] [raid10]
md1 : active raid1 sda2[0] sdb2[1]
295997504 blocks [2/2] [UU]

md2 : active raid1 sda3[0] sdb3[1]
1919680 blocks [2/2] [UU]

md0 : active raid1 sdb1[1] sda1[0]
14651136 blocks [2/2] [UU]

unused devices: <none>

When I first ran the status, md1 was still synchronizing. The above result came after the drives were in sync.

Two years ago, a lot of programs outside the repositories didn’t have 64-bit versions. Flash support was problematic, especially in Firefox. Java was an issue. The list went on. Now, all those have been resolved. Flash, Java, and Bible programs like Xiphos all appear in 64-bit repositories. Even Adobe Reader and Reader for Firefox, Thunderbird’s Lightning and  Provider for Google Calendar extensions appear in the 64-bit repositories and work great. My email and calendar were ready and waiting. Firefox has performed flawlessly so far. I also fixed the Ctrl-Alt-Backspace issue that is new to Jaunty, which isn’t build-specific.

HINT: Do not install Lightning or Provider for Google Calendar from the Thunderbird’s Addon pages on the web. They are not 64-bit compatible. If you already had them installed before going 64-bit, simply uninstall them from Thunderbird’s Addon function.

The key problem in my initial installation of Moneydance traced back to Java installation. When “ubuntu-restricted-extras” installs, it sets up Sun and Open Java. Moneydance doesn’t particularly like the newer versions of Open Java as much, especially the fonts. So, I simply referred to my earlier post on Moneydance and typed these lines in the terminal:

sudo aptitude install sun-java6-fonts
rm ~/.install4j
sudo update-java-alternatives -s java-6-sun

After that, Moneydance worked perfectly. Everything else does as well. Lastly, I reinstalled the Epson Photo Image Print System using the drivers as indicated in this post with one important difference. Since there’s not a 64-bit driver for PIPS, I had to install the 32-bit driver by typing this in the terminal:

sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture pips-scx7700-cups_2.6.3-2_i386.deb

That worked perfectly as does the driver. The only issue is that the Epson Status Monitor seems to be missing a support library and doesn’t work. Not a real problem. The scanner worked fine from the start, so there was nothing to do there.

I’ll probably think of something later, but the 64-bit system purrs along with no issues. It’s setup proved simpler than a few years ago. And the 8 GB of SDRAM? System Monitor tells the story:


64-bit Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty rocks, and the overall system screams! Now I just need a pair of 10,000 rpm hard drives…



  1. […] In the end, I had a wickedly fast Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty box. But it was still 32-bit and not yet RAIDed. More to come…here. […]

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