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First look: Ubuntu 8.04

August 23, 2008

Previously I’d been using Xubuntu because Ubuntu didn’t seem to work very well for me.  But though it was amazingly fast, Xubuntu had problems.  Yesterday I downloaded Ubuntu 8.04 and installed it on my home machine.  After switching off the fancy gingerbread and trying it, I have a few observations below the fold.

Short version:  this one is a keeper.  If Microsoft could keep up steady improvement like this, they would be a celebrated global treasure instead of the icon of junk software that they are.  But they can’t, so here we are using Ubuntu.  And so far very favorably impressed.

The good:

  • Seems to patch itself to stable versions.  Much appreciated.

  • A seriously nice interface. Just about as fast as Xubuntu when you switch off the gingerbread features.  (Do you get the idea I really don’t care about transparent title bars and rotating cube screen switchers?
  • Install takes about 40 minutes including applications and patching.  Contrast that with 4 hours to get a Windows build anywhere near ready to use at all.
  • It detected my scanner instantly, and the Xsane scanning utility is the best one I’ve seen (as measured in the fine control it gives the user).
  • Drawing masks in Gimp is much more precise – and easier – than in Photoshop
  • OpenOffice is much more straightforward in use than Microsoft Office.
  • So far I have not had any of the ‘FlashCrash’ problems that plagued my Xubuntu installation, and even using Adobe’s Flash player plugin.  (I hate the Adobe corporation even more than Microsoft)
  • Very easy to burn CD’s.
  • Very grateful for restricted drivers’ option, since proprietary companies dont’ seem to want to cooperate fully.  This unit is running on a restricted Nvidia driver, and Broadcom network wireless chipsets can now be used without an NDIS envelope.
  • Super-easy to patch the machine.

The bad:

  • It’s annoying to have to use restricted drivers. C’mon, chipset manufacturers, what are you afraid of? (I’m guessing they are violating their competitors’ patents and don’t want anyone to know)

  • Suspend worked perfectly in Xubuntu, but hangs in Ubuntu.  At least on this machine.  Until I figure it out.
  • Windows hotkeys don’t seem to be working.  Maybe there’s a way to enable them.

The Ugly:

  • Monitor detection is very spotty in Ubuntu; it finds a “generic monitor” and you can’t get past 1024×768.  This is a fairly big problem.

I’ll have more to say after using it for a while.

Categories: Geeky, Software
  1. August 24, 2008 at 17:15 | #1

    Almost all monitors in Linux come up as generic because you don’t need specific drivers for a monitor, even in Windows. You just need to make sure the software is sending the proper signals to the monitor, something the drivers would normally do.

    Try researching Xorg.conf as there are settings in there pertaining to your video card. If you are afraid of editing config files that can tank your install (which is understandable) you might try tweaking from the GUI interface. I have not had problems with screen resolution in Linux, but then again I was using ATI and ATI has great support in Linux.

    Glad to hear you are enjoying it though. At some point I might have to get it running again.

  2. August 24, 2008 at 17:24 | #2

    Thanks, you just gave me the solution to the problem; get a frakkin’ ATI video card. 

    I miss the old Matrox Millennium cards.  Those were stone-reliable, but they won’t do modern dance.

  3. August 24, 2008 at 19:44 | #3

    Try running the command “sudo -dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg” which will bring up a wizard and ask you questions for configuration of Keyboard, Video, Mouse, and possibly some other items.

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