Ubuntu: Feisty, Indeed!

The upcoming Ubuntu release is entitled Feisty Fawn, in keeping with the adjective-animal naming convention. I installed the current test release, herd 5, and although I’m reluctant to proclaim that it a drop-in replacement for the typical home user, I may begin using it as my default desktop OS.

Well-Intentioned Installer

The installer is distributed on a live CD — just double-click the install icon on the desktop to begin the simple installer that copies the live CD install to your hard drive.

One prominent feature of the new Ubuntu is the Migration Assistant, which imports settings from an existing Windows install, such as My Documents and Internet Explorer settings. That’s the theory, at least – in my case, the installer crashed during migration, and there was no way to disable the feature — ubiquity --no-migration-assistant didn’t work. I was able to prevent the assistant from running by mounting the Windows partition before running the installer (suggestion via hizaguchi on ubuntuforums.org). Despite my difficulties, the ability to import settings from Windows (e-mail, AIM) will be a huge step in the right direction.

The next hiccup was the GRUB installer, which detected my SATA drive as “hd2” rather than “hd0”, so I manually had to specify “/dev/sda6”, and later correct /boot/grub/menu.lst. A casual user can’t be expected to figure this out, but a casual user is not likely to have hard drives on multiple controllers, so this wasn’t a big strike for me, either.

Initial Impressions

About 15 minutes later, I began to use the well-equipped base install — OpenOffice, Firefox, Evolution, Gimp, Gaim, … My hardware was detected properly, including an HP DeskJet 4160 and a GE EasyCam webcam. All was not perfect, as Xorg configured my monitor for 1024×768, which was “easily” fixed by sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-org. This throwback was quickly overshadowed when I began to explore my automatically-mounted NTFS partitions. Several Office files opened without issue. I proceeded to open media files in proprietary (WMV9) and esoteric (Flash Video) formats, Totem (the default media player) automatically downloaded the necessary codecs and played everything without a hitch!

Conclusion

This is day 4 without Windows, and I don’t miss much. Given the nature of my installation issues, and the resolution difficulties, I’m not prepared to recommend Ubuntu to friends and family. However, given the fact that this is a test release, and Ubuntu’s 6-month release cycle, I feel this popular distribution is approaching general usability. So far it is my most seamless out-of-box experience with a Linux desktop distribution.

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8 Responses to “Ubuntu: Feisty, Indeed!”

  1. daxhuiberts says:

    That’s exactly the same experience I have right now. I love it!

  2. JonnyRo says:

    Even i dont run linux exclusively. I keep a Mac Mini on my desk for iTunes, a Linux workstation for Kubuntu, and a windows laptop.

    Hedging my bets as it were, for when you absolutely positively have to have a computing platform at the ready.

  3. JonnyRo says:

    PS, your blog looks freaking awesome. Great work nathan.

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