The Pleasant Surprise of Lucid Lynx Beta 2
I liked Unix from the first time I saw it, in the early ’80s when I took a class in the summer at my dad’s community college.
I’ve been using Linux for a good long time — I remember when the move the 1.3 kernel was in the offing. I’ve installed it on a ton of machines over the years. I ran my own IMAP server in-house for a while, until webmail made that stupid. I’ve got multiple Linux servers in my house, and a passel of them at work.
For years I worked on Unix boxes; some of my earliest Java coding was done on a Solaris box. But Solaris, like BSD, is too niche to use as an everyday platform on commodity hardware. So, half my hard-drive is an Ubuntu installation, and that’s where I do most of my work.
(Yes, the other half of my drive is given over to Windows XP. I have to at least know the software I develop works there. And Windows is still better at some things, like trivial video reconfiguring for slide-deck presentations. Sigh.)
For the longest time I was a Debian aficionado. Debian-way or the highway. Apt is my package management god, and I shall try no other package management systems. Likewise, for the longest time I was a KDE snob. Hated Gnome. KDE was so much more elegant, with it’s IO Slaves, Konqy’s niceties, etc. I remember compiling 2.something by hand for Solaris — days in automake hell. Worth it though. KDE was pretty, fast, and got out of my way.
Apt is still king of package management.
But how did I end up with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx/Gnome?
First Comes Ubuntu
The first time I tried Ubuntu was the result of Debian install pain. I suspect I am not alone in this. SATA was somewhat new, none of the stock Debian ISO images could find my hard drive, groan. Of course, Debian’s release schedule is glacial. It had never bothered me because I always ran out of unstable. But to run unstable, you need to be able to install.
I think this was Gutsy Gibbon. I was able to install it from the ISO image with no trouble; I was impressed by how much just plain worked. With Debian, it was always a three month crawl to get all the fringe bits working when I moved to a new laptop. Fringe being stuff like, oh, sound. Flash. Wifi. Etc. But Ubuntu, for the most part just worked. Oh, there were still some fringe things that needed tweaking but the fringe was much, er, fringier. It proved easy to install KDE 3.
I stuck with Ubuntu, release after release.
KDE 4, whenever it came out, lost me. Too different, too slow, too buggy, too crash-prone. Staying with 3 was a dead end, so I moved over to Gnome. After some tweaking, I got Nautilus to get out of the way, put the panel on the bottom the way God intended, and was happy. After some more tweaking I got two panels, stacked on the bottom, and was happier.
I had long since moved to Gnome-DO as my primary command launching tool. So I got comfortable with Gnome pretty fast. My only complaint was that Compiz doesn’t dual-head all that well for me. But that is hardly necessary.
Problems, Out of the Blue
Sharp-eyed readers will recall that when I got to Jaunty, things went to hell. Performance was piggish all of a sudden. Seriously, slower than XP. I bagged it, moved over to Windows for a couple months. When Karmic came out, I reinstalled from scratch, but fan management issues almost drove me back to Windows. Hard to work on a machine that overheats every ten minutes. Gentoo, Arch, Fedora all showed the same problem. Eventually, on a whim, I tried installing Ubuntu Server, and suddenly everything worked.
I was safely back in the arms of the Ubuntu.
For six months, this machine has been rock-solid. I work on a deductive database system, implemented in Java. It takes around forty-five minutes to run the test suite on this machine; it stresses things pretty hard. Often I let the tests spin in the background while I work in Eclipse. This is akin to re-weaving your climbing rope while you are hanging on it. Exciting, but not without peril.
Point is, I have been very happy with Karmic Koala, at least the server edition. It is far faster than Windows, boots like a champ, generally solid as all get out. KDE 4 caused such an allergic reaction that I even got used to Gnome. Upstart was wonderful; a three line tweak let me swap in and out X configs based on whether I was docked or not.
Happy developer. That’s me.
But, I like shiny things. So as the pace of updates to Karmic slowed, I itched to move to Lucid Lynx as soon as the Alpha appeared. I held off until Beta 2, then, well.
I admit it. I am weak for new releases.
I docked my D830 at home, so I had a wired connection. Followed the instructions for server upgrades. It informed me it needed to download around 1.2Gigs. Go for it, I said. I crossed my fingers, toes, and everything else. I had tar’d up my home directory, but still. I dreaded a complete reinstall. I just don’t have time for it. It either was going to work or I was back in Windows for a while.
Chug, chug, chug. Download all the bytes there are. Install, install, install. Every once in a while, make an install decision. At the end, reboot and pray.
One oddity evidences immediately. It thinks Gnome is not installed. This I attribute to installing Ubuntu Server and then installing Gnome piecemeal after that. I log into Failsafe xterm, start up Synaptic, install a bunch of high-level gnome packages, logout. Flip to a console, shut down gdm, restart gdm. Bingo!
So far it has been flawless. No kernel problems, sound works, usb drives work, wifi works, dual-head works. Feel free to read about the upgrade’s contents elsewhere.
I’ve even kept the default background for while, though I will change it to a simple color at some point.
Ubuntu Lucid Lynx FTW!