Installing Google Earth 5.2 under Ubuntu 10.04 with an ATI Radeon XPRESS 200M

Installing Google Earth on an older laptop having an ATI Radeon XPRESS 200M graphics chip was a bit of an adventure. A fresh install of Ubuntu 10.04 (32bit) provides you with the open video drivers for the ATI chip. The times ATI provided a proprietary driver for this chip seem to be long time over, but who needs proprietary drivers anyhow…

There are several ways to install Google Earth, I chose the simplest one: downloading the latest Google Earth 5.2 directly from Google. Running the installer, and then starting Google Earth gives the following error (on a console):

Fatal error in __driConfigOptions line 1, column 0: unknown encoding.
Google Earth has caught signal 6.

After some searching, I found the solution here:
cd google-earth/
wget -O
Ok, now the world turns, good! Well, at least until you zoom in, then very weird graphical effects take place, maybe suited for a DJ performance, but quite useless for normal use (see this video). More searching luckily also provided a solution for this problem here, resp. here:
In /etc/default/grub set this line:

And in /etc/modprobe.d/radeon-kms.conf set this line:
options radeon modeset=0

If the radeon-kms.conf file does not exist, create it.

Rebooting, and running it again, led to a horrible flickering of the screen, and even a crash of the XServer. One final step was necessary: turn off the visual effects, see this page.
So, finally Google Earth works surprisingly smoothly!

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