So, after I fixed the two screen problem I was having with my Ubuntu setup, I started getting an odd flickering.

This flickering didn’t affect the whole screen, rather it seemed to be something to do with window repainting, and it became even worse after I updated to 14.04.

I run a slightly non-traditional configuration, in that I run Gnome2 fallback rather than Gnome3 or Unity, therefore this probably won’t effect a lot of people, and is probably why it persists.

After a bit of digging, I discovered that this is actually a compiz issue. Here’s a summary of the fix:

Fixing the flicker

  • Install the compiz settings manager: apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  • Scroll down to “Workarounds” in the “Utility” section:

compiz-1

  • Select “Force full screen redraws (buffer swap) on repaint”:

compiz-2

Once this is done, your windows should repaint as normal.

So, I recently got a notification that my Hardware Enablement Stack (HWE) was no longer going to be supported, so I had to perform an upgrade. I didn’t have time to move to 14.04, so I just did the HWE upgrade.

Unfortunately when I rebooted, I no longer had 3D support, and worse, my twin monitor setup was no longer supported (or rather, both monitors were active, but showed the same thing!).

Diagnosis

I am rocking a NVIDIA GeForce GT 610, which, although it’s a basic card, doesn’t seem to be supported very well by Ubuntu’s native Nvidia drivers. When I ran nvidia-detector, no cards were found.

Since my card was working before, I figured it was probably just a driver problem.

Solution

The solution I used for this was to update the Nvidia drivers to use the Nvidia proprietary drivers. Here’s how…

  1. First, visit the Nvidia website and use the wizard to download the correct driver bundle for your card.
  2. Hit Ctrl-Alt-F1 to enter a console
  3. Uninstall the existing Nvidia drivers: sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia-*
  4. Move the old Xorg config out of the way: sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.orig1
  5. Stop X: sudo stop lightdm
  6. Run the NVidia installer (Note, you may need to reboot and re-run steps 5 & 6, as the installer may have to disable some kernel modules). Save yourself a headache, and be sure to build the DKMS module, so that changes aren’t lost when ubuntu updates itself.
  7. Reboot

All going well, you should now have working Nvidia drivers with two screen support!

Canonical has come in for a little bit of heat for the inclusion of the Unity Shopping Lens into the latest release of Ubuntu.

This new tool, installed and switched on by default (although you can turn it off if you want), extends desktop searches online. The upshot being that when looking for a file or application on your desktop, it will also perform an Amazon search for products with similar names and keywords. You then have the option to buy these products (of course netting Canonical a cut from the referral).

Many find this an objectionable direction for a free software platform to take, although Canonical have to pay their developers somehow, and the service model has its limitations. A number of people in Europe have questioned its legality, given the stringent EU data protection laws.

However, I think Canonical may get bit by the law of unintended consequences just simplistically piping a search string through a third party engine.

Check out what happened when I looked for the Terminal application:

Ooops!

I think being offered Playboy DVDs from within the desktop may get people’s backs up, even if the choice to ad fund development of the operating system doesn’t!