It has become a habit that I blog about the Ubuntu upgrade of my desktop, but this year I haven't found the time to do it on a timely manner.
Precise got announced as one of Canonicals best finished products ever, which did me upgrade some days before the official release. How did the upgrade go ? Not so good.

Basically, it bugs the hell out of me that Canonical still cannot refrain itself from messing with the end user settings. This upgrade wasn't any different. Disabling features like Ctrl-Backspace-Delete, the URL paste in Firefox with the middle-mouse button are some of the know stuff.

Some of the nasty upgrade bits :

  • I forgot to pin nvidia-173, so it got removed and as it isn't part of Precise's multiverse (nvidia-current creates high kernel load); my X-config was foobarred. I just gave up and switched to Nouveau.
  • Contrary to a lot of people, I do not find Unity and Dash to become more and more user-friendly with every release; they are working more and more on my nerves. I've tried to install MATE, but there's something broken with the nouveau config, it seems.
  • the upgrade died on my netbook, due to a foobarred /var/lib/dpkg/status
  • the upgrade foobarred my bcm4314 wireless card config on my netbook.
  • the root filesystem gets marked dirty as some processes don't get stopped at shutdown, resulting in a 10-15 second penalty at the next boot.

In the end, I got everything rather quickly in a working state, but I find upgrading and fixing desktop software even more boring than watching the 3456332th episode of Neighbors, just to mention something...
The whole experience has convinced me that I'm not fitting in Canonicals 6 month upgrade process anymore, so I'll probably switch to the LTS release cycle, or to a Debian stable or CentOS based desktop in the future.

Venus transit 2012


On Wednesday June 6th, an exceptional astronomical event will take place. As seen from Earth, the planet Venus will pass in a straight line between Earth and the Sun. As a result of that, an observer on Earth can see the planet Venus 'transiting' the Sun disk. When you are looking at the Sun using special equipment (*never* look without any protection straight to the sun !), you can see a black circle slowly passing over the Sun.

The last time this event took place, was 8 years ago. However, it will take another 100 years, on 2117 Dec 11th and 2125 Dec 08th, for anyone to be able to observe this transit again.

For observers in Belgium, only the last part of the 7 hours during spectacle will be visible in the morning of June 6th, and this from 5:21 (sun rise) up till 6:55, when the planet's silhouette will leave the sun's disk. This event is an ideal opportunity to have a look at this through professional equipment, several observatories will be open to the public to give you an opportunity to look at the Venus transit.

Perl advent calendar 2011


Dark days and the smell of rotting pumpkins ? It's that time of the year again : here's the Perl Advent calendar 2011 !

Port Charlotte, An Turas Mor


Anyone familiar with the typical shape of a Bruichladdich bottle, knows that Port Charlotte is a product of the same distillery. 'An Turas Mor' means 'The Great Journey', and should be comparable with the Peat version of Bruichladdich, although slightly less peated. Sounds promising, not ? So cut the talking, and let's dive in, shall we ?

Color : Gold
Nose : *lots* of smoke and a hint of fruit & the sea. Hmm, surprisingly unpromising, and quite one-dimensional.
Taste : Fruity at first, nicely balanced sweetness, and then the peated smoke army rolls in. Still quite balanced. A hint even of wine, and more fruit in the aftertaste, maybe pear ? I expected pepper, and saltiness, but these stay absent. Much better than the smell promised.

What is there to say ? Clearly again a great whisky from Bruichladdich, only if the smell was a bit more interesting, this would be a winner ! Anyway, if you're into Islay stuff, be sure to check this one out !



I noticed that the upgrade for Oneiric was available, so I decided to jump in & upgrade my Ubuntu machines. It has become the habit that I encounter all weird stuff & errors during such upgrades, but that's something specific to me, it seems ;)

On my desktop, I returned to the installation program 2 hours later after I started it, only to find a black screen with a mouse pointer. No possibility to restore the screen, so I had no other choice than to kill X, and resort to command-line mockery. I've learned by previous experience that rebooting the machine or restarting X at this point lead to major mayhem on my desktop, so I entered 'dpkg-reconfigure -a' to complete the setup, which it actually did, to my big surprise.

Since Natty, there has been much turmoil on the internetz about something Canonical enforced to the enduser, called Unity. I have skipped this enforced desktop in the past by reverting to the Gnome legacy mode, but it seemed that this was completely foobarred in the current Gnome3 in Oneiric. So what has a man to do in a completely changed environment ? Adapt. I decided actually to try out Unity, and lo and behold, it was actually quite usable. Unfortunately, Unity does not support gnome applets, but I resolved this by running Conky, which adds extra panache to the desktop experience.

There are off course still quirks in Unity. Mocking around with the Compizconfig settings can ruin your desktop experience, although not so disastrous as in Natty. On my netbook, Unity refused to start up, leaving me only with a empty wallpaper. I resolved this by setting the LIBGL_ALWAYS_INDIRECT=1 envvar in my .bashrc.

We'll see how this Gnome3/Unity combination goes. If it really turns out to be an atrocity, there's always KDE or XFCE to revert too...


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