Monthly Archives: November 2005 - Page 2

ubuntu on the Sun Utra20 with dual displays

After getting my Ultra 20 up and running, I didn’t like the pre-installed version of Solaris, and Windows XP 64bit sucked (although it did run, it was just incredibly buggy….suprise!) my new plan was to install Ubuntu, which is my current linux distro of choice, and my dual head display working, and install a vmware instance of Windows XP for when I want to run something that is windows only, like Google Earth.

So, after spending a couple hours on it, this is exactly what you need to do to get a dual head display working in Ubuntu on a Sun Ultra 20.

This quick howto assumes a bunch of things.

A. That you already installed Ubuntu and are able to login successfully and connect to the internet.
B. That you know how to use the vi editor (or at least know how to edit, save and quit) if you don’t, replace anywhere that I mention vi with whatever editor your comfortable with.
C. that I didn’t type anything wrong

Lastly, before we get into the good stuff, this probably will work with any install of Ubuntu where you are using teh nVidia Quadro FX 330 or similar card. You can get the the drivers mention later on by going here:

These drivers should work on a good amount of nVidias product line, you can see if it works with your card by looking at the compatibility list here:

Now onto the the how-to

1. start up ubuntu.

2. when you get to the gdm login manager, hit control-alt-F1 to get to a terminal window and then login.

3. type:

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

4. put the Sun Ultra 20 supplement CD into the cdrom drive, and type :

sudo mount /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom

5. now type:

sudo vi /etc/

before the /lib32 and /usr/lib32 lines, add the following:


then save the file and exit

6. type:

sudo /sbin/ldconfig

8. now you will need to install a bunch of ubuntu packages that are not included by default.
binutils 2.16.1-2ubuntu6

I installed them all one at a time because I didn’t know what I really needed at first, but you should be able to install them all at once by typing this at the prompt:

sudo apt-get linux-headers-2.6.12-9 \
linux-headers-2.6.12-9-amd64-generic \
linux-kernel-headers libc6-dev gcc-3.4-base \
linux-source-2.6.12 make binutils 2.16.1-2ubuntu6

9. Now you should be ready to actually install the drivers. cd into:

10. then type:

sudo ./

there are a bunch of command line options you can give it, so that you don’t have to use the wizard, and you can essentially let it just autoinstall the entire thing, not asking you anything.
This should get you real close:
sudo ./ \
–accept-license \

11. Now, all that there is left to do is edit the xorg.conf config to use the new driver.
But first we need to backup the original config incase something explodes
so, type:

sudo cp /etc/X11R6/xorg.conf /etc/X11R6/xorg.conf.orig

12. now edit the config…. type:

sudo vi /etc/X11R6/xorg.conf
Look for the following 2 lines in the config, and either delete them, or comment them out. Both of them should be in the “Modules” section.
Load “GLcore”
Load “dri”

13. Now go to the “Device” section
and replace the line that says:
Driver “nv”
Driver “nvidia”

14. under the Driver “nvidia” line that you added a minute ago, add the following 2 lines:
Option “TwinView”
Option “MetaModes” “1280×1024,1280×1024”

The first one enables Nvidia’s “TwinView” mode. This tells the video card that you have 2 displays. Enabling this means that you don’t have to bother telling X anything really about the second display.

The next line tells X what graphics modes to use for both of the displays. In my case, I have 2 Dell LCD’s and they can only handle about 1280×1024. The first resolution is for the first display, the second is for the second display. They can be completely differant resolutions if you want.

Now save the file and exit.

15. All you have left to do now is restart gdm and hope nothing went wrong. type:
sudo /etc/init.d/gdm start

if anything goes really wrong, you should still be able to hit control-alt-F1 to get back to the console, where you can stop gdm again and try to see what went wrong.

If you run into any problems, or want to enable other features or whatever, Nvidia included a pretty useful readme file on the Sun supplemant cd

A quick tour of the Sun Ultra 20

The other day I got my new Sun Ultra 20 workstation for my desk at work. Sun did a pretty good job putting it together, and if I wasn’t poor, I would probably buy one for my house. However, since I have no money, i’ll just pretend I own things through what my work provides me. It came with a gig of memory, onboard RAID, sound, ethernet, SATA, and an AMD Opteron 148 CPU. The hard drive is something like 74 gigs, and this model also included the optional nVidia 3D digital dual head video card.

Ultra 20 front

The case is all metal, and has 2 firewire, 2 USB ports, a mic jack, and a heaphone jack. I noticed already that the headphone jack on the front of the computer (there is also the normal one on the back of the computer) has a ton of interference. You can hear hard drive noise, and even interference from the mouse every time you move the mouse or do anything.

Ultra 20 back

On the back of a the case, there is nothing at all special going on, its as normal looking as you would expect. The fans, are real quite and are some of those fancy smanshy smart fans that powers up and down depending on how busy or hot the computer is, so during normal operation, you can barely notice that it’s even on.

Ultra 20 back, PCI slots

The picture kind of sucks, but you can see that I got the optional 3D digital graphics card, which comes with an adapter that supports a dual head display. Also, the workstation has 3 PCI-X slots, and 3 normal PCI slots. It’s kind of dissapointing that there are no DB9 serial ports, which I often need, but I didn’t pay for it, so I guess I don’t really care. Also, I could always get a USB-DB9 serial port converter and be just fine.

Ultra 20 - HD

I was real happy with the fact that Sun used the same hard drive mounting rails they use on virtually all of their servers/workstations nowadays. The motherboard has built in support for hardware base RAID, and uses those new spiffy SATA drives.

Ultra 20 - SATA

This is so much cleaner looking than old IDE or SCSI cables.

Ultra 20 - CDROM

To further going along with the “no screws involved” plan, the CD/DVD-ROM uses some quick-release contraption for those days when you are on the move.

Ultra 20 - CPU

You can see there is a ton of empty space in the case. You can actually see right through from the front to the back of the case from the outside, and look at the fancy baffling setup that the CPU fan has.

Ultra 20 - BIOS Code

Look at the 2 character LCD display in the middle of the picture. Instead of using horrible speaker beeps or those dumb color coded LED’s to tell you about hardware problems, it just displays the error code for you to go cry about

That’s my little tour of the Ultra 20.

How much to spend on a pet

(12:17:45) me: weee, i made it into someone elses blog post

(12:20:38) Darren: nice!

(12:20:39) Darren: who?

(12:22:37) me: this blog I subscribe to the feed of. Its called “Free Money Finance” this guy posts all this stuff on saving money/investing and such

(12:23:24) me: like a week ago or so, he posted an entry asking how much money people are willing to spend to save a pets life

(12:25:34) me:

(12:25:55) me: so the guy posted a recap today about all the comments he got (one of which was mine)

(12:26:10) me: i think he actually ended his post by calling me an idiot

(12:26:19) me: not in those exact words

(12:27:07) me: however, I did win the prize for spending the most money on a pet

(12:28:18) Darren: “prize”?

(12:28:31) me: yeah, the “prize” being a massive amount of debt

(12:28:33) Darren: he sounds fairly unsympathetic

(12:28:56) me: haha, the thing is, I think he completely missed the point I was trying to make (as poorly written as it was)

(12:29:28) me: I know kids and pets arnt the same. I was trying to say that if you dont want to be responsible about it, you shouldn’t have a pet or a kid

(12:29:54) me: who says flat out before even having a pet (or any living thing for that matter) “the most I will spend is $2000”

(12:30:08) Darren: from his opening sentense, i got the impression he was going to interperet the comments in light of his own opinion, i.e., you can’t compare kids to pets

(12:30:21) me: so what happens, when you drop that last $1, you say “well spot…tough shit…get into the trash compactor”

(12:30:34) Darren: his view is also very narrowminded

(12:31:01) me: usually everyone he writes, and everyone that comments on his blog are a bunch of cheap stingy bastards

(12:31:05) Darren: i wonder how much he would spend on keeping a pet alive if his kids had grown up with the pet and were too young to understand that animals get sick and die

(12:31:10) me: which oddly enough, is the name of another blog I subscribe to

(12:31:19) Darren: would his daughter’s happiness be worth $15000 to him?

(12:31:20) me: thats a good point as well

(12:32:07) me: in my mind it would be worth it

(12:32:56) me: think about this, most of the comments he posted said they would spend at 2000-$3000 on their pet

(12:33:08) me: the average life expectancy of a dog for example, is like 7-15 years

(12:33:31) me: mine, lived 12, 12 years of cable TV costs more than $7,200

(12:33:44) me: so i bet everyone on their is willing to spend more on TV than on a pet

(12:34:17) Darren: if your pet lives for 15 years and you are only willing to spend $2000 on it (max life, min cost) then you’re only spending $133 yer *year* on the thing

(12:34:18) me: hence my last sentance in that comment I posted. you cant get that kind of return on anything else

(12:34:29) Darren: that’s not even enough to feed a small dog for more than a few months

(12:34:39) Darren: i don’t think people really thought through their answers…

(12:34:45) me: i was hoping that those figures were for “emergency costs”

(12:34:58) me: like if your dog had to go to the hospital, and the doctor gives you the price quote

(12:35:10) me: you know, when you, your wife and your kids (who are crying) are standing around

(12:35:20) me: and then you go….$5000? nope, just kill him

(12:35:24) Darren: which goes back to my original thing

(12:35:24) me: hahaha

(12:35:45) Darren: how do you tell your daughter that if the doctor was just *this* much cheaper, fido would be coming home with them?

(12:36:34) me: what is worse, is that its not a matter of you not being able to get the money, its that you have it, but the line item in your budget called “fido” only allows you to spend up to $2000

(12:36:56) me: then the kid can go home thinking that she has a maximum amount as well

(12:36:59) me: haha

(12:37:09) Darren: heh

(12:37:27) Darren: on the other hand, everyone has a limit to what they can/will spend

(12:37:45) Darren: if the doctor had told you, up front, that it would cost $15000 what would have done?

(12:37:49) me: yeah, everyone does, but I dont think you can really know what the limit is until you need the money

(12:37:53) Darren: what if he said $30000?

(12:37:59) Darren: that’s what i wonder

(12:38:03) Darren: and that might be his point

(12:38:18) Darren: if it’s your kid, then the only limit is what you can beg, borrow, or steal

(12:40:31) me: with my dog, the only reason he ended up being put to sleep was because there was nothing else that could be done. If he had made it past that last hurdle, at the way things were going, I think i would have easily hit the $25,000 range, but I couldn’t live with myself with knowing that the only reason he died was because I didn’t want to spend the money on him. Like how can you go and blow money at dunkin donuts or something like that, and be finewith it, but then your pet has a problem and you say no way