Posted by SV on April 20, 2008
I was eager to try the new release from Ubuntu house… so eager that I could not wait for another 4 days to obtain the iso copy of Hardy Heron. Today I downloaded the 8.04(LTS) Release Candidate and installed on my desktop. I’ll not keep the suspence till the last paragraph of this log to give my verdict. Its 9 out of 10… Ubuntu, you have won me over…!
I now have some experience in installing the Release Candidates (RCs) and found that essentially not much changes in the release after a distro development reaches this stage. May be last minute touch-ups, polishes… We can safely download a RC version and install it on our system for regular usage. Anyway we can use update manager to keep up-to-date and to get rid of any bugs. Its a good idea also from the point that once the distro is released the servers a bombarded by eager users to get the latest offering thus making our downloads a lot slow than it should be. The download requests at RC level is comparatively low and if we go the ‘bittorrent’ way our headache is further reduced. Infact I was surprised that I could download around 700MB file in less that 1 1/2 hour!
Ok, I downloaded the iso file, checked the md5sum and confirmed the integrity, burned it to a blank CD and put it in the DVD-writer tray and hit the restart button. The first screen has changed a bit (not too much). It asks whether we want to try it before installing(live CD mode), install it, CD check etc… I choose the live CD mode and was in the default screen in no time. I just moved here and there in the desktop, used firefox and afterwards hit the install button.
The installer has not changed much and all it took was around 15-20 minutes get installed on my harddisk. This time however, the grub bootloader was not forcefully installed. Nor did it ask whether to install or not. I have Debian installed on my system and I always want my Debian bootloader to manage multi-booting. Ubuntu behaved as if it ‘sensed’ my preference and left bootloader uninstalled. I just logged into Debian, edited the /boot/grub/menu.lst to include Ubuntu option and am booting fine into Ubuntu now. But one thing I see in liveCD is that unless it auto installs the grub, we only see an initrd.img*.bak file, not the initrd.img* file. If we use this file we cannot boot into the OS. Don’t remember the exact error message though. So, I copied the initrd.img.*.bak file to initrd.img.* file and used it in ‘initrd’ argument in the grub loader file. Correct method or not, its working for me!
Once booted into Ubuntu the first thing that I liked is the default theme, background. The default theme, which is always a point of complaint againt Ubuntu, has improved a lot this time. There are minor changes in the layout, default programs etc… For example, Brasero is the new CD-Burner, Transmission is the bittorrent client…etc. All my media is clubbed under ‘Removable Media’ now, though I think my harddisk partitions should not have been there (We have always been taught that HD is a fixed disk ) Otherwise, the look and feel has not improved drastically. May be its good especially when we know that the actual changes are seen in the way the programs now behave. Most of them are being executed fast, no crashes as of now, programs look more polished and hopefully are less buggy.
Coming to multimedia, Totem is the default media player. The .ogg and .wav files played natively but for .mp3, .mpg, .vob etc I had to install the ugly plugins…which ofcourse was as easy as confirm, enter, enter… stuff. The .vob file does not play that good though. We see some distortions… I cant explain it in ‘engineering’ terms… but its not clean, kind of hazzy… Don’t know if its problem with that particular file or the format itself. Let me confirm that later…
Firefox version is the latest 3.0 beta 5 and I found it to be extremely fast…probably as secure… Evolution, is the default mail client. Though I like Thunderbird more, I usually am forced to use Evolution as it has support for the Microsoft Exchange server which is not available in Thunderbird. Evolution is slow and buggy. But what to do… either the Evolution team have to deliver better or the Thunderbird team has to provide the Exchange server support.
Although my internet connection is working out-of-the-box, when I go to the Networking Tool, I see that the options are locked. I clicked on ‘unlock’ and gave my sudo password, still its not unlocking! Have to try that again sometime later. And it has not recognised my wireless adapter which is D-Link DWA-110G USB adapter. May be I have to use ‘ndiswrapper’. Again, will keep it for later.
Well, overall I’m very much pleased by this release of Ubuntu. Everything seems to work…work fast too… Its not as eye catching as some of the other distros like Fedora, openSUSE, Mandriva… but it still has smooth and clean interface. I’ll try my hand at Fedora 9 (Sulphur) too and then decide which one to install on my newly bought Vostro-1400 laptop.
Fedora, my love, you have a great competitor this time. Its very tempting. Keep up to my expectations or bare with the infidelity…