Back in 1998 I tried installing RedHat 6 on a spare PC. When the desktop loaded it was, ummm, wobbly. I then spent the best part of the next two weeks fighing with X configuration files setting obscure items such as front and back porches in a futile attempt to stabilize the display so it would be usable. I gave up.

Fast forward to March 2011 and Ubuntu 10.10. I’ve used lots of different versions of Ubuntu since 2006 on a variety of machines including for CNC control, but the last time I installed in a dual boot system was two years ago. Ubuntu 10.10 works fine in a virtual machine inside Windows 7 but I wanted to run it at full speed.

I had a blank PC with two hard drives, both blank and installed Windows 7 on the first one. That went fine.

Next I installed Ubuntu 10.10 on the second blank drive choosing the option to install “alongside another operating system”. That’s when it went pear-shaped of course.

The first issue was when I was prompted to reboot. That produced a cascade of errors saying the hard drive that it just installed on wasn’t accessible. Eh? Then it stopped and I had to use the reset button.

Upon booting there was no grub bootloader! It went straight to Ubuntu. OK, fine. I know where /boot/grub/menu.lst is so this will be easy to fix. No such luck. Things have obviously changed and now I am back in 1998 searching web pages for possible solutions on how to avoid reinstalling Windows 7.

First attempt: gedit /etc/default/grub. Oops. Obscure error time again.

Second attempt: I know nano and at least that worked giving me access to the file. Sadly the contents of the file don’t show any references to kernels like I expected.

Third attempt: apt-get install startupmanager. Looks good. Shows Ubuntu as the only option though. No way to add additional operating systems – how useless is that?

The last issue I noticed is that Ubuntu failed to detect I had two monitors and stretch the desktop automatically. This is after installing the proprietary ATI drivers. I remember the Linux Action Show complaining of this exact issue with Ubuntu over two years ago!

At this point I am fed up and regretting venturing back into the Ubuntu world. I don’t want to spend hours working out how to get access back to Windows 7. Perhaps I am too stupid to use it?

If this is how the user experience is after years of hard work then I can’t see how Linux will ever make any significant gain on the desktop.

Some things never change.