Open Source Chicken and Egg

My wife’s aunt’s computer was always getting full of viruses.  I’d spend a few hours every time I came to visit removing the viruses and get the computer back to a working state.  Sounds like the perfect job for….. Linux!  All she does on her computer is email and watch videos – that’s it.  Plus, I can set everything to Vietnamese for her thanks to Linux’s great internationalization efforts.  Since I wanted a nice, worry-free desktop for her, I installed Ubuntu 8.04.

However, unlike the way things usually work, after installation, things weren’t working well.  Everything I tried to login with GDM, it would start going to the desktop and then spit me back out.  I searched a bit on the ‘buntu forums and found that ATI drivers tend to be a bit finicky.  So I installed the xorg-driver-fglrx driver, but it didn’t solve the problem.  I had a feeling that if I could only sign into Gnome I could change something that would allow me to login to the desktop.  But I couldn’t sign in the Gnome until I fixed the problem.  I seemed to be in a real chicken and egg problem.  Luckily, I was able to login to FAILSAFE Gnome and, from there, go to the restricted Hardware Drivers dialog and enable the ATI driver.  After that, everything worked just as it was supposed to.

So now, another happy Linux customer.  I think she’ll enjoy it and won’t even realize it’s not Windows she’s really using.