Some people argue that upgrading Ubuntu is easy if you don’t install hacky scripts.
There is a very specific reason why I’m not using the latest version of my favorite Linux distribution, Ubuntu. The 6.10 “Edgy Eft” release was announced October 26, 2006. Rather than upgrading immediately, I chose to wait at least a day in hopes that the download servers wouldn’t be so busy.
So, when I went to upgrade, I first followed the official method:
And then chose to upgrade to the new release. Okay, except it didn’t work. It said there were unrepairable errors, but it didn’t give any verbose output as to what those errors were. That’s fine, I’ll just use apt-get dist-upgrade. I followed the instructions precisely, making sure that all the appropriate metapackages were installed. It did require a bit of trickiness on my part to finally get the dist-upgrade command to NOT require uninstalling nearly half my system, especially including several crucial xserver and python packages. I finally did the dist-upgrade, and upon rebooting, xserver-xorg was broken. I figured that would happen. It took only about 2 minutes of additional package installations and manually editing xorg.conf to get it up. So I thought.
My first glance of the Edgy desktop was short-lived; my system hard-locked after only a few seconds. Grrr! I hopped over to rescue/single-user mode and changed the x driver to every possible failsafe option – radeon, vesa, vga. All produced the same result, so now I realized that although I was only freezing in the GUI, the xserver-xorg driver wasn’t the culprit.
I figured the upgrade must have borked something, so I ran the deadly
which was long, pain-staking, and didn’t solve the problem. I knew that my motherboard (an ASUS P5VDC-X) has a VIA-PT880 chipset, which was incorrectly identified by the Dapper kernel. In Dapper, that made it so that AGP was only recognized as PCI, and so I had no 3D or direct rendering until I recompiled my own kernel with the correct identification of my chipset. Messages at kernel.org indicated that this was fixed in Linux 2.6.17, and Edgy was using 2.6.18, so I assumed I’d be fine.
I had an unusable Ubuntu installation, so I tried the Edgy LiveCD, planning on doing a fresh install of Edgy (what I should have done in the first place). But guess what – the LiveCD caused my system to hardlock once the desktop had loaded! Proof that Edgy is in someway incompatible with my hardware. Enough to the point that I can’t even install Edgy on my system to try and bugfix or resolve the problem.
I reinstalled trusty “Long Term Support” Dapper 6.06, and all is well that ends well. Well, after another kernel recompile to get my direct rendering back. And the reinstallation of about 450 universe and multiverse packages. Yes, all is well in Dapper.
And that is why I’m not using Ubuntu 6.10.
Considering it is 2:40am, I’m sitting in a Freenode chatroom (#Ubuntu) with over 1000 other geeks, and until just a few moments ago was eagerly anticipating the scheduled release of the next version of Ubuntu.
Not only did I feel the Internet noticeably slow (okay that’s hyperbole), I’m watching before my very eyes a real-time Internet. The release was announced on the lists, which was then copied to #Ubuntu, and then I saw a digg, DistroWatch, and Slashdot article appear. I’m still waiting for the BoingBoing article, and I’m waiting to see who will update the Wikipedia entry.
MySpace is a horrible excuse and attempt at a social networking site. I was playing the “social networking” game way back before the first “Dot Bomb,” and in the primitive vernacular, it was called “Six Degrees.” Now, MySpace is spreading like a viral disease, infecting innocent and formerly sane Millenials, while leaving a trail of non-Standards-compliant web mucas. Where Slashdot is a hive mind of individuals who think alike, but who each retain their own unique individuality, MySpace has become a hive mind of mindless zombies, ready to move on Rupert Murdoch’s every whim.
IN OTHER NEWS, now that the SABDFL has announced plans for Dapper+1, I have the perfect opportunity to start mapping my visions for Ubuntu into specifications for the Edgy Eft release, which will be decidely more daring than previous Ubuntu releases. I also have enough time to brush up some coding skills and actually contribute something more than a lame little package menu.
Warning! The following post uses a lot of techno-babble and less-than-well-known Linux terms. If you are not familiar with the GNU/Linux operating system, it would help to read this simple Wikipedia explanation first. I have also attempted to provide links for further clarification when using the names of specific Linux programs.
It has been almost a year since I first booted into Kubuntu, the KDE-centric Ubuntu Linux operating system. What a wild ride. I familiarized myself with the applications and the Debian/Ubuntu way of doing Linux, and then I started to reconfigure. And then I reconfigured some more. And then I reconfigured some more. I was installing applications left and right, making DVD playback work here, getting 5.1 audio support there. I eventually let my Slackware background get the best of me, and I compiled drivers (WiFi), software (amaroK SVN, BibleTime CVS, GimpShop), and this all eventually lead to a major mental meltdown. Relating to computer tasks, anyway.
KDE (the Blue) is great for users new to Linux, because it is very similar to Microsoft Windows in many regards. It is also great for experienced Linux users, because it is highly configurable, and these configurations are easy to find, and they provide much needed relief from editing conf files all the time. But, KDE is very sloppy in several places. Mainly in presentation and appearance. This is of course is my humble opinion, but this is also, of course, my humble blog, wherewith I may opine to my heart’s content.
My biggest struggle with KDE was getting non-KDE applications to behave more like KDE applications. I understand that isn’t necessarily KDE’s fault, but much could be done in the standardization of dialog boxes and menu departments. I also started to feel very discontent with the styles and window decorations in KDE. They changed every day (probably more often than my desktop wallpaper), and I never could find something attractive. The default KDE icons, Crystal SVG, are a well-tuned professional icon set. But so much blue gets on my nerves. Literally! And there aren’t Crystal icons for every application in KDE yet, which causes graphic inconsistencies reminiscant of Windows XP still using certain older Windows 2000 icons. They don’t mix; I use computers for long periods at a time, which makes appearance a factor just as important as usability and function.
I knew where this discontent was guiding me, and you probably know by now as well: GNOME (the Brown). GNOME is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu, and thus by nature receives more love and attention in almost all departments (appearance, usability, function). For example: there was an update reminder app for Ubuntu/GNOME long before one came to Kubuntu/KDE. A fabulous icon set, a new-style Human, as well as the tango-fied Human, have been lovingly built especially for Ubuntu. They look great! Ubuntu as a complete product really looks sharp and polished. I recently upgraded my desktop to Dapper 6.06, and I’m enjoying the exploration experience.
One requirement of moving from KDE to GNOME is learning what all the dang-fangled applications do! I actually had to read the Ubuntu User Guide (great job, docteam!) to make sure I understood how to burn a CD (without K3B), and especially to make sure I could adjust system preferences and configurations. In all reality, many of the GNOME apps are ahead of their KDE cousins – Gaim has less AOL IM bugs than Kopete, Ekiga (formerly GnomeMeeting) doesn’t have an official KDE cousin yet, Firefox (default in Ubuntu) is most certainly my preferred browser over Konqueror.
There are troublesome areas, however, as goes any Linux situation in my experience. I’m sure I will appreciate the stability of the Totem movie player over the Kaffeine movie player. But the RhythmBox music player is not anywhere near amaroK’s feature set. There is an alternative called Banshee, which I may investigate soon. I haven’t actually spent that many hours in GNOME yet, so there will be a second part to this post.
What I hope to achieve from this switch is less frustration with the overall appearance of my computer, as well as less time spent configuring applications which should already be human usable.
To be continued, once I get the chance to actually sit down at my desk for a while…
I haven’t touched my Kubuntu desktop in about 2 weeks (about the time I ceased being an IT administrator), and it is taking some will power to try and convince myself to get back into it.
Here exist 3 MAJOR shortcomings of Linux in general, not just Kubuntu/Ubuntu/Debian.
- No truly professional, responsive office suite. OpenOffice.org2 is sluggish on even fast machines, and it still isn’t quite where it needs to be. I disable Java, because I detest it, so I’m probably missing a few key features that depend on it. Hint to developers: just say NO to Java. KOffice, I hate to admit, is a joke. KWord is actually pretty cool and useful for people who’ve never used Microsoft Word. It is fast, and it does basic stuff. But it doesn’t support Microsoft fortmat files. Sorry, but that has been and will be a requirement for a long time. I can’t convince JoeWindows User at work to send me an OASIS format file, when he is using and always will use Microsoft Word. Oh yeah, and GNOME Office. Cute attempt. At this point I’m left with an unstable, nasty looking Microsoft Office running under Wine.
- Cross-desktop look, feel and function. I understand this is the Linux Holy Grail Nirvana, but it hasn’t been acheived. Firefox is my favorite web browser. I use KDE. I should be able to have a Firefox in KDE that looks the same (I use Lipstik, so Plastikfox doesn’t work), feel the same (GTK-Qt Engine causes some instability in presentation, especially when drawing menus), and function the same (at least KDE Open/Save/Print dialogues, if not also KDE Bookmark/History/Wallet integration).
- Drivers, drivers, drivers. I was so excited when I found out that my iPod Shuffle worked in Linux. A little too excited, because I couldn’t get amaroK to recognize it properly. I tried to compile the latest amaroK SVN, but it has damned too many dependencies. And good luck to those who’ve bought the latest iPod (with video). I am glad to see that there is usually always a start of a driver project whenever I buy a new toy (PODxt), but the projects are rarely complete, and you’ll often find that they’ve been abandoned for years. The beauty of open source is that someone can indeed come along and finish it, but I’m in the “It has to just work” department, not the “I can make it work” department.
In addition to those frustrations, Kubuntu Breezy 5.10 has a dash of salt for the open wounds. It crashes incessantly. Rather, the Konqueror binary does. I haven’t installed the latest System Setting update, but at least previously it liked to crash as well. I never had crash problems using Hoary 5.04. Although, I can’t say my computer isn’t entirely devoid of blame. It is quite the hunk of junk. My plan is to eventually build a really nice Intel-based desktop, slap on Kubuntu, use it for my casual computing, and then buy a PowerBook G4 for my audio, video and photo needs.