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2007-10-19

Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) Test Drive

Ubuntu 7.10 was released yesterday. Below is my first hand impression of new release. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, if you will...

Getting the image:
I tried all North America mirrors to find a fast image download site but I guess because of first day rush, all were slow, download speeds around 50 KB/s. After a couple of hours, I was able to access Georgia Tech mirror which let me download at speeds of 2MB/s, so I got the image in a matter of mins.

I usually use Lauchpad.net to order my free copies of Ubuntu, which is an awesome feature of Ubuntu Distro.

Because of firewall rules, I could not use torrents in my environment. Not sure how that would change my experience.

One thing I noticed was that Europe/Asia had a lot more mirrors and when I tried them I got almost the same download speeds: ~50KB/s. I hope more 'fast' mirrors are added for North America soon.

Installation:
Ubuntu installs were always good but not without hickups... When I was reading reviews, I had read something like 'Installation was even easier than Vista'. I attest to that now.

I decided to wipe out earlier version and install it on my IBM T40. I popped in the CD, live-cd install completed in a few mins. Then I clicked install shortcut on the desktop and installation started.

In all installs up to this version, time would always be incorrect, this worked fine. Install time was short and I had to click 'next' a couple of times to confirm keyboard, regions etc and enter username/pwd.

Devices:
When I say devices, I should confess that I don't really have a lot of devices to check the functionality. What has always been painful for me was Wireless Access. I have a netgear wireless card, which was automatically recognized, drivers were installed and was ready for me to use after reboot.

The only thing I noticed was, it was not available during install and at some point Ubuntu install warned me that I did not have internet connectivity, so Security Repositories/Updates would not be available at the time. No biggie.

Post-Install:
One of the exciting things I saw in 10 rocking features in 10 days series of articles was about Tight integration of Firefox with Ubuntu. So when I browsed to blogger site, firefox popped up a message for "missing plugin".

Unfortunately, things did not work as advertised after that. Flash Plugin was supposed to be installed seemlessly. Instead I got an error when I tried to install it.

In fact, once I clicked "close", it told me that plugin was installed and I needed to restart firefox. Of course, that was not true...

I also tried Firefox > Tool > Addons to install some plugins like GreaseMonkey but no luck there either. It kept on complaining about source not being available. If you look carefully, you will notice a type in "available".

I know some may think I am just being picky now, but I hate to see such typos as it gives you the impression of sloppiness. Ubuntu is a 'high-quality' distro, such small stuff does therefore matter (at least to me).

I am not sure if this is a bug or if there is some back-end issues here though. Because I also got a "Service Outage" page when I was trying to get some more explanation on what's going on.

Anyway, I am sure I can still download and install these stuff manually as I used to.

Screen Resolution: It always bothered me with Ubuntu/linux installs not to be able to easily increase screen resolution from current setting. Ok, "easily" is a relative term. Because normally, you would edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and then logout / log back in to see changes. That's a "no no".

In fact, in Ubuntu preview, Lifehacker touched upon this point: "It might not seem like a revolutionary feature, but users can now change their screen resolutions and refresh rates without having to log out or hack around in terminal."

I think it should be like in Windows, where all resolutions are listed and when users chooses one, it's tested and user is asked to confirm if it was OK. This is still missing from "easy-to-use" Ubuntu and require a bit more tech skills.

OK, I guess I will post more when I have more time in my hands to play with it. This is it for the time being. Oh, before I forget, I loved the fact that Compiz is the default window manager in Ubuntu now:)

Edit 10/22/2007: I am having an issue with Ubuntu start up. It does not start properly and a black screen is displayed. I play with the mouse and touch a few keys, I see HD activity in the meantime and after a minute or so logon screen shows up. I have an ATI card on this IBM T40 laptop, not sure what exactly is causing this but no update has resolved the issue yet.
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