How hacking Linux is like building sandcastles

OK, I don’t mind hacking stuff to make it work, but once I hack it, it should *stay hacked*!

I have installed Ubuntu 7.04 “Fiesty Fawn” on my Macbook Pro… I am currently dual booting OS X and Ubuntu, and I intend to triple boot Win XP as well eventually.

This weekend, I spent about 2 hours making my NVIDIA video card and my sound card work, and it worked and I was happy and pleased with myself. Today I boot back into Ubuntu and, surprise, neither video nor sound is working! What changed? I used these instructions from this thread to make my NVIDIA card work again… I got pretty clear error messages from X11 when starting up, so it was easy to search teh interwebs for a solution. However, I have no idea what is wrong with my ALSA drivers and I don’t have time to go find someone in IRC to help me right now. It’s hard to fix a problem when you don’t know what the problem is!

Dropping to the command line to fix things is OK, having to fix the same things repeatedly is not. Hopefully the next version of Ubuntu which is due out next month will make everything better…. it is a little unfair to expect Ubuntu to support the hardware on my 3rd generation Macbook Pro out of the box since the version of Ubuntu I’m using was released before my laptop was released.

New cellphone

Since I couldn’t make up my mind about cellphone plans, my parents just renewed with AT&T (yes, kinda evil, oops).  The upside is that they sent me a new phone to replace my old broken phone, so I am now once again able to receive phone calls after a couple weeks of phonelessness. (Sorry if I missed your call!)

My new cellphone is a Nokia 6126, which is a pretty decent phone… it’s a clamshell design with bluetooth and speakerphone, and it was cheap, and that’s all I really wanted. Annoyingly, the Nokia 6126 is not officially supported by iSync on Mac OS X! There isn’t even an iSync plugin that you can download from Nokia, although there are plugins for plenty of other Nokia phones on the Nokia website. Ultimately I had to go and hack iSync’s config files by hand, pasting in some gibberish from these directions for making the Nokia 6126 work with iSync.  I’m sorry, Apple, but that’s really lame.  I’m using a Mac because I want it to just work… if I have to go copying and pasting gibberish from blogs / bulletin boards into my config files in order to get things done on my computer, then I might as well be using Linux.  (Incidentally, I’ve had some success with dual-booting Ubuntu on my new Macbook Pro, but I screwed it up by attempting to update to the latest alpha release.  Oops, time to wipe and re-install.)

My next phone will probably be the OpenMoko Neo 1973, which is kind of like the iPhone except it runs on Linux / open source software, and is designed to be friendly to hardware/software hackers who want to play around with its insides. The consumer model is due out in October, so I’ll be saving up for that… it’ll have wifi and GPS built-in, which makes up for the initial version not having 3G (same problem the iPhone currently has).