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Maverick

Ubuntu

I upgraded my machines to Maverick - nothing much too say, except that the upgrade went pretty smooth. The upgrade on my netbook was the most interesting : the Ubuntu Netbook Remix interface (UNR) was about to be replaced with a brand new interface, called Unity. Now, I still don't like the fact that Ubuntu forces the user interface with every last upgrade to the standard one, but with Unity, all now makes more sense :

  • The placing of the close-minimize-maximize buttons is excellent for minimal mouse gestures
  • The dashboard alike interface of UNR gets replaced with a vertical Windows7/OSX alike dock. With the default maximization of windows, this works great.

However, in Unity, there are still some annoying bugs :

  • I sometimes need to click twice on a startup button before the application starts, as if the dock is too less sensitive.
  • The window title sometimes gets overwritten with other stuff
  • The Ubuntu logo should display a menu if clicked, instead of minimizing all windows. If you want to fire up a non-docked application, you need to go to the Applications button, which displays all installed applications with their icon (which is kind of a mess)

Apart from that, very neat interface.

Lucid

Ubuntu

I had a few spare hours yesterday, so I decided to upgrade to (the beta version of) Ubuntu 10.4, called Lucid Lynx. The upgrade went quite smooth, but I can't say I was completely happy with the end result. As it's getting usual, a typical Ubuntu upgrade is becoming two steps backwards & 3 forward. There were quite some things broken after the upgrade :

  • no framebuffer with the new kernel. Fixed by upgrading to Grub2
  • Gnome 1 called and wants its GDM theme back. No, seriously, GDM looks so horrible that I'm wondering there's something wrong with my config
  • Some users got XFCE as a default window manager
  • The upgrade to Thunderbird 3 removed some of the SMTP server settings for all users.
  • The window control button placement is stupid (I know about the many discussions and the Canonical reasoning behind it, but still). Here's a guide how to place these buttons to the right place again.
  • There is no support any more for the NVidia drivers. I knew I would run into this, I had to downgrade the drivers already in Karmic, but this means bye-bye to Compiz.

Not all is teeth-gnashing :

  • Boot times are faster
  • Overall desktop feeling is faster and snappier
  • Fonts are displayed way better

So, mixed emotions with the upgrade. Hopefully there are some GDM changes before the release hits the road.

Karmic

Ubuntu

Even more Ubuntu trouble : during the upgrade to Karmic, my wife wanted to check her email, switched to another user, and thereby forced the half-upgraded X-server to crash. Wonderfully, the upgrade process kept continuing, but off course I had to kill the ucf dialog processes the upgrade displays at the end of the upgrade. My Grub config and printer definitions were foobarred, but worse off all, my NVidia desktop experience was pure hell : X is slow as a dog, and using Firefox feels like steering a 1000 ton cargo vessel.

It is painfully to track the reason of the lag : upgrading to the latest NVidia drivers didn't solved anything (and removed half of my KDE setup), and reverting to an older Linux kernel gave the same experience. Even ditching NVidia, and using the nv driver seems also slowing the system down. Trying different options in the xorg.conf file was futile (disabling AGP solves *something*), but I'm still in the dark about the true reason of the performance drain, and even worse, there's no solution in sight. From the logs, it seems that 3D is b0rken, but why & how is still unclear.

(II) NVIDIA(0): NVIDIA 3D Acceleration Architecture Initialized
(==) NVIDIA(0): Disabling shared memory pixmaps
(II) NVIDIA(0): Using the NVIDIA 2D acceleration architecture

Sigh...

Update : downgraded to nvidia-glx-173. Much better now !

Jaunty video

Ubuntu

Never apply last-minute-changes. I noticed an update for my eeePC based Intel card in Jaunty, minutes before I would take it with me on a one month journey. Great, I thought, a performance update. The update, however, removed the Intel card definition from HAL, thereby forcing my Intel video card to a 800x600 VGA display. Not fun if you're one month in the bush, where internet is something SF-alike.
It took me up to Cape Town, where I enjoyed the marvels again of broadband, and got my 1024x768 resolution again.

Jaunty

Ubuntu

I upgraded Gundabad (my main workstation) to Jaunty. Smooth upgrade, as usual in the last two years. I'm well over the stage where I get excited about 'new' features in Ubuntu or Gnome, but I must say I'm generally pleased with the fast boot times.

I upgraded my eeePC too. I had to create a separate lvol for the /var/cache/apt directory, as my root filesystem is way too small to keep the new filesets. The fast boot times are more pronounced here, I guess Jaunty boots under 20 secs ! Unfortunately, this fast behaviour didn't extend up to the Gnome desktop. I noticed lots of lag, and it seemed I got hit by this Intel bug. Upgrading to the kernel, located on http://people.ubuntu.com/~apw/lp349314-jaunty/, gives a better performance, but not yet that of Intrepid.

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