Monday, May 04, 2009

Linux Monday Jaunty Reviews

Linux Monday: The Laptop and the Jackalope

After an unbelievable eight weeks and a day in repair, the laptop is back. The entire motherboard and CPU were fried, so it's basically a new computer. (The actual repairs were completed long ago; my techies shipped it to an outside vendor for a warranty-covered job and the idea I get is that they had a $$$ dispute and my machine was held hostage.)

So I did the upgrade from Ubuntu 8.10 to 9.04 Friday night, and it appeared to go smoothly. But as soon as I had time to sit down and try stuff I found two issues.

Problem 1) No. Sound. At. All. That's one of the raps on Ububtu setup and Linux in general: sound is tricky. And as someone with a massive music library, that matters to me. (It's worth the effort to me to avoid the DRM issues with Mac and Windows; we choose our tradeoffs.)

In an effort to solve Problem 1 I downloaded the full CD and tried to burn it when I found:

Problem 2) Intermittent recognition and burning of CDs. I wasted several blanks before I succeeded. Then the Jaunty disk worked in other computers but showed up on the laptop as a blank. So I burned another Jaunty CD, on another computer (in, er, another operating system, sorry) and this time was able to boot from the CD on my laptop.

As the CD boot completed I heard the happy drumbeat of Ubuntu, which told me that the problem was with my install, rather than my hardware (being fresh off of hardware issues I wanted to rule that out). So the next step will probably be a clean install.

Jaunty has a migration utility that will let me keep settings; I tested that on the number two machine first. It popped up, but only offered to import my settings from an old Windows install. Perhaps that was because I'd already installed Jaunty through the upgrade process. Don't know if it would have imported my settings if I'd still had 8.10 installed.

I tried to explain all this to my wife, who has a vested interest in me not banging my head, but her response was, "John, as soon as you say 'Linux' all I hear is 'Linux bla bla bla.'"

The big news in Linux Land this week is that in April's monthly Market Share statistics, Linux topped 1 percent for the first time ever. Hey, that's a bigger share of the vote than Bob Barr got... Windows has dropped to an all-time low of 87.9 percent, meaning one of eight Internet users are using something else. Lots of little systems are nibbling away, like iPhone and iPod Touch.

Other than that, the talk is still Jaunty Jackalope. Several reviews:

  • Information Week: "With each release to both the left and the right of the decimal point, Canonical's Ubuntu shapes up all the more as the Linux distribution for the end user. Critics are calling it as slick and seamless as the Mac's OS X, and it's come that much closer to being a one-for-one replacement for the Windows operating system as anything yet seen.

    That said, Ubuntu isn't without its pitfalls and gotchas -- as well as its hidden delights..."

  • Tech Republic tries it on an aging machine: "It’s faster than any distribution I’ve seen. It’s more stable than any other Ubuntu release to date. Everything is exactly where you would think it SHOULD be. And it all works perfectly, seamlessly, beautifully."

  • PC World: Are you impatient? Do you want your computer to work when you're ready to work? While Ubuntu 9.04's no instant-on operating system, like the embedded Linux SplashTop, it is mighty darn fast.

    How fast? Well, I didn't see a boot time of 17.5 seconds like some people have, but I was up and working in 41-seconds, which for a box from 2006 and a conventional hard drive is pretty darn impressive."

  • But Tux Radar misses an old feature: "In the old days, a tray icon would appear with a bubble telling users that updates were available. But as of 9.04, that's been dropped in favour of Update Manager automatically appearing on the screen, only to be minimised. The thinking is that this makes Update Manager harder to ignore, presumably because it's more annoying now.

    If people were ignoring the system updates bubble, couldn't you just have done something with the new notifications system to make security updates clearer - something like "Critical updates are available for your computer - click here to install them now." Then don't ask any further questions: if they click that, install the updates straight away rather than showing Update Manager."

    My guess is these reviews are of fresh installs, and that the problems I'm facing are by-products of the upgrade install I did. I'll let you know.
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