Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ubuntu "Dapper Drake" LTS v6.06

I got a copy of Ubuntu from Aizat at the myoss stall at the PC Fair. Unfortunately it got me puzzled, as my laptop didn't recognise the disc as a bootable one. So it looked like a dud disk. However the content is OK, in that its viewable. So my only guess is that the person who prepared it mounted the ISO image and burnt the CD from the contents, and not the ISO directly. Ive seen this happen before, even by some computer experts. So if you happen to have this disc from the PC Fair, please throw it away and get a proper one.

I managed to get a bootable Ubuntu, and tried installing it on my laptop. Its a Compaq Presario x1407, which sports a widescreen 1600x1050 res. This gave X alot of problems in that my resolutions are not standard, and I often have to manually edit the config files just to get the settings right.

So I was rather pleasantly surprised when Ubuntu booted up into its glorious GUI and detected my display correctly. Its wonderful that these live installers allow the user to test drive the desktop before installing. Isn't it novel that linux can do that? "Try me, if you like me, install me". So I did. I clicked on the little icon, the only one available on the top right and proceeded to install Ubuntu, for the first time.

There were quite a few quirks with the Ubuntu installer, and I will list the few here in my notes during the installation.
  1. The time was wierd. After setting my timezone to KL, (which was on the map, fortunately) it added 7 hours to my system clock. This is wierd because my other OSs are ok with it. So I just went with it and readjusted the clock back 7 hours.
  2. The Keyboard selection was unique, it even has a text entry to try out the keys. However the screen on the right was conspicuously blank, which really show show a bitmap/SVG of the keyboards selected. The ability to support multi-languages out of the box is a real plus.
  3. The Disc Partitioner is slightly obscure. I have a 5GB partition which I leave for testing out OSes (the previous was linspire). I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to 'flag' which partition to install Ubuntu's root to. So I just deleted the linspire partition, and recreated it as ext3 with the option to format it. After clicking 'Next' it becomes obvious on how to set the partitions for installation, where we define the mount points. However it wasnt obvious when it mattered.
  4. It was great that it recognises all my partitions immediately and offers to mount all of them, including NTFS and FAT32s. My fedora 5 install requires me to jump through hoops for NTFS support.
  5. However the installer should show what the filetypes are to help us define the mountpoints. It would be great to have the graphic of the partitions displayed too.
  6. It took a mere 15 minutes to copy the gist of Ubuntu into the HDD. In the meantime, I could play all the games supplied in the GUI, and even browse the 'net as TCPIP was correctly configured. Thats quite a nice touch, and it beats Fedora's Anaconda which takes up the entire screen, or Window's text based installer.
  7. There were some issues with the GUI widgets: buttons started changing colours and only reverted on mouseover or when clicked and other oddities.
  8. So after the copying, I rebooted. Only to be greeted by a new grub, with WinXP correctly identified as a boot option. The cute drums upon login is a nice touch.
  9. 'sudo -i' is the means of getting the root shell. Use the users password, not roots.
  10. To get mp3 and all the other 'patented' goodies to work under Ubuntu, its relatively easy... in synaptic, select the 'Universe' and 'Multiverse' repos and reload the package info. Then install gstreamer and all the other stuff as described in this HowTo.
  11. One great thing is that Hibernate works out of the box! I assigned the power button to Hibernate, and after about 20 seconds, the computer shuts down. Starting up and resuming work would take about 50 seconds. Im not complaining, cos I never got it to work before.
  12. I added the Weather applet on the gnome panel. Unfortunately 'Kuala Lumpur' still is NOT an option under 'Asia/Malaysia'! The closest city is Subang, so I selected that.
  13. At home, the Wifi worked out well.
So its just been a few days of playing with this distro, and I must say, Im very impressed with it. Just one CD, and its quite a nice desktop, with all the apps to make it functional. The 'interactive' install is a definite bonus. I now know why this distro has so many fans and understand why it has grown so popular that quickly.

Well done to the guys at Canonical!


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