Friday, October 15, 2010

Maverick Meerkat initial impressions

I am not really a fan of reviews where the reviewer throws on a new distro, plays with it for 3 hours and then does a write up. I find it takes much longer to get a proper impression about a new distribution.

So, having said that I'm nonetheless going to give my initial impressions of Maverick Meerkat. I started switching a couple of weeks ago.

So far I have upgraded (or re-installed) 2 laptops, a netbook and 3 mythbuntu boxes. All bar the netbook have gone pretty smoothly (more on that below).

The new installer has some good improvements, such as doing work in the background while you are still answering questions, resulting in faster installs.

shotwell has replaced f-spot as the photo manager. I'm finding shotwell much, much faster than f-spot and all round a pleasure to use. Migration from f-spot is trivial as shotwell has an "import from f-spot" option. This worked a treat for me.

Ubuntu Software Centre has two new features I have already found very useful. History allows you to see the history of your package installs. Installed Software splits stuffup according to which repository they have come from. I've already found both these features invaluable.

Software sources has been moved from a standalone entry in the System->Administration menu to being part of the ubuntu software centre. You will find it under the Edit menu.

I do think Ubuntu releases could do with some more comprehensive release notes which list changes like this, it took me a while to track things down.

Upgrading the Acer Aspire, 11.6" ZA3

The problem with this netbook is that it has the poulsbo video chipset. Despite being an intel chipset, the drivers are closed source. However, there is now reasonable support and repositories with the necessary fixes were already available.

After upgrading, just:

add-apt-repository ppa:gma500/ppa

and install the poulsbo goodies from there.

My upgrade on the netbook ran into a few problems. First, the installer told me it could not figure out the upgrade and told me it was probably due to third party stuff I had installed, but gave no clues as to which. If only I'd had the new softwar centre to allow me to browse what I'd installed from strange sources.

Happily, synaptic has a similar option. Using that, I guessed that it was the poulsbo goodies causing problems, so removed them and then fired up the installer. Success!

Now the install was going ok until I looked at the netbook and saw that everything seemed to have frozen. The window manager had crashed. Note to self, don't do a gui based upgrade after removing a bunch of the packages that your X server is using ;)

Sadly, I ended up killing the upgrade before I found the window asking me some question about which version of a config file I wanted. This had been hidden behind another window and, without a window manager running I couldn't see it.

The good news was that I was able to complete the upgrade using apt-get commands from the command line. A reboot got me to a console, I then added the poulsbo goodies, rebooted once more and all was good.

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