Archive for February 1st, 2010

Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 vs Separate X Sessions: Whack-a-mole!

I’m in the process of figuring out which Ubuntu 9.10 desktop will work with my collection of hardware. That I got all this working successfully with Xubuntu 8.10 is most likely a testament to raw determination rather than good sense, but that’s water over the dam.

The hardware:

  • Kensington Expert Mouse trackball (must use left-hand buttons)
  • Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman (must use right-hand buttons)
  • Wacom Graphire3 6×8 tablet (must swap side buttons)
  • Dell 2001FP 1600×1200 landscape display (left side)
  • Dell 2005FP 1680×1050 portrait display (right side)
  • nVidia GeForce 9400 GT dual-DVI card (using nVidia driver)
  • Dell Dimension 9150 deskside PC
  • Intel HDA Stac92 on-board sound (system sounds)
  • Ensoniq AudioPCI plug-in sound (unused right now)
  • Logitech USB audio headset (phone calls)

General requirements:

  • Monitors must use separate X sessions, not Xinerama or TwinView
  • 2005FP must be rotated 1/4 turn CCW into portrait mode
  • *buntu preferred, due to large user base

After some trial installations and moderate fiddling, some of which served as blog fodder:

  • Kubuntu doesn’t work, as KDE 4.x can’t handle separate X sessions
  • Xubuntu is OK, but tends to not have nearly the support of Ubuntu
  • Ubuntu comes heartbreakingly close to working


  • Rotating that monitor is a real problem
  • I don’t need RandR, but static rotation in xorg.conf causes other problems
  • The tablet wants to cover both screens, but that’s fixable
  • Trackball handedness requires careful FDI tweakage
  • Previous xorg.conf setup is not useful in the new world of FDI files
  • Most configuration documentation isn’t useful in that new world, either

Installations on other household PCs  have gone reasonably well. Installation on my desktop box is in a spare partition, so I can return to What Worked without too much trouble.

With all that in hand, here we go …