Back to Ubuntu

Well, I’m back to Ubuntu. This is starting to be a common theme: new release of what appears to be a promising distribution appears, download it, install it, play with it, wipe it, reinstall Ubuntu…

I spent a couple of weeks running the then newly-released Fedora Core 5 on almost all of my boxes. Initially, it seemed promising. Having read several reviews of different releases that incorporated Gnome 2.14, I was anxious to play with some of the shiny new stuff. When Ubuntu announced that they were delaying the release of Dapper Drake until June, I felt like I couldn’t wait that long and wasn’t really all that interested in running a pre-release version of Dapper on my boxes. “Probably not stable enough”, I told myself.

Well, I’m back to Ubuntu on all of my boxes. The experiment with FC5 got off to a promising start with a relatively unexciting installation on my Dell laptop. Wireless just worked. So did pretty much everything else I really care about on the box. My dual-boot desktop at work was a different story: something about the way in which grub gets installed on that box just doesn’t work (it seems to have something to do with the presence of 2 IDE hard drives, with Windows XP installed on the first). Clobbered the Windows XP installation so that the box wouldn’t boot either OS. Sigh…

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth, accompanied by promises (subsequently broken) of regular backups of some sort later, I managed to recover all (or at least, I think, all) of my work-related files from the corrupted Windows XP drive. At that point, I decided perhaps I would try that box as just a Linux box, and installed FC5 on the primary drive. That worked and life was good. I even went so far as to drop Ubuntu from my home system and installed FC5 there.

All was good. Time passed. A couple of weeks later, a kernel update on my desktop box at work left it unbootable again. “Enough!”, I told myself.

I pulled down the latest beta of Ubuntu (beta 2, at that point) and installed it, starting with my then-unbootable desktop at work. Slick installation process that has been completely and totally overhauled compared to other versions of Ubuntu. Up and running in less than 20 minutes (followed, of course, by the obligatory download of 200+ MB of software updates that is normal for any pre-release of a distro). It seemed solid enough — and high enough on the cool meter — to give it a shot on my laptop. Same thing: flawless installation, good performance, zero stability problems. After that, I clobbered the FC5 partitions on my home system, and installed Ubuntu there again. I timed the whole process: just under 17 minutes from the time I booted Windows XP to clobber the FC5 partitions until I rebooted under a fully-functional, Internet-connected Ubuntu system from the hard drive. I’m on DSL at home, so the big update took another couple of hours, but that installation process from the live CD image is pretty amazing.

For a pre-release, this system is incredibly stable! Others’ experience may differ, but I have had zero problems. At this point, we are still in the daily update mode of anywhere from 10 to 100 MB of updates each day as we get closer and closer to the real version of it in a couple of weeks. I have absolutely no regrets about jumping back, even though this is just a pre-release. I will probably never leave Ubuntu again…

Yeah, right…

If only Ubuntu would come up with a graphical boot loader as attactive as the one Red Hat and Fedora have…

A Brief Fling with Foresight Linux

This probably fits in the “it just works” category of things, but I am back to using Ubuntu on my laptop after a brief fling with Foresight Linux 0.9.3. To this point, I have never been able to effectively manage the network settings on my laptop in moving it between work (where it has a static IP address on the wired network interface) and home (where it has a dynamic IP address and uses the built-in wireless interface). As a Gnome fan, I had seen several postings on the Gnome news site over the past couple of years announcing new releases of Foresight, and I was curious to give it a shot since it had all the latest Gnome goodness built in. So right before Christmas, when 0.9.3 was announced I thought I would give it a shot.

The initial installation went very smoothly and it seemed promising in terms of its support for the hardware on my laptop. It certainly seemed to recognize that both network interfaces were present when I ran through the initial installation (which I performed while connected to the network at work). Unfortunately, as soon as I pulled it off the network and brought it home to fire it up and connect it to my WAN, it had no indication that the wireless card was even present in the box. Wierd. Dropped the Linux partition and reinstalled at home — still no indication that it even had a wireless card inside. More wierd.

Back to work the next Monday, hung it on the network, dropped the Linux partition, and reinstalled. Both network interfaces seem to be present. This time, I went ahead and configured the wireless interface, pulled it off the network and rebooted. Wireless interface was still there — that seemed promising. Took it home, booted, and I could actually get it to see my WAN at home and connect to it. After much Googling and forum-searching, I managed to figure out what I would need to do to get the routing table entries tweaked to switch between the two interfaces so that I could actually see the outside world.

Home free, I thought! New distro, with the latest and greatest Gnome to play with. The next day when I went to boot the laptop — still here at home — what do I find but that it has lost all track of the fact that it even has a wireless card! Nothing I could do even seemed to make it aware of the card.

At that point, I decided that it there was something flaky under the hood in Foresight that just couldn’t keep track of the card. I decided that I was headed back to Ubuntu, which for me has always come the closest to “just working” of any of the distributions I have tried on all of my various boxes. Dropped the Linux partition, installed Ubuntu (this time at home), and let it configure the wireless card as part of the installation process.

It just works — and works well. So for the time being, I am running Linux wirelessly (that can’t really be a word, I know) on the laptop at home, and Windows wired at work.

Foresight still seems like it has quite a bit going for it, and my intent is to keep an eye on it. For now, however, I am back to having just Ubuntu installed on my various boxes. I still have that sort of vague wanderlust feeling at times, thinking that maybe there is a better distro out there for me than Ubuntu (the same feeling that makes me take a hard look at Evolution every time they update it, but I have always ended up back on Thunderbird), but I haven’t found it yet.

Stock Firefox on Ubuntu

Having played with the betas and the pre-release candidates of Mozilla Firefox on several of my Windows-based computers, I was very anxious to get the new v1.5 up and running as soon as it was released in late November. As the release date crept closer, the traffic on the Ubuntu forums indicated that a quick backport of the Mozilla release for the inclusion in the Ubuntu repositories wasn’t likely. Luckily for me, though, a kind soul on the forums posted a slick How-To with instructions on getting the stock Mozilla build installed and running on Ubuntu. Worked like a charm…

And the results? Highly non-scientific, I realize, but this new version is screaming fast compared to the Ubuntu-included v1.07 that is available in the repositories. I don’t know (and, frankly, don’t care) how much of that is v1.5 vs. v1.07 and how much might be the stock Mozilla vs. the distro-specific build (I have seen grumblings in the Ubuntu forums that the distro version may be something of a pig). Either way, it feels much snappier, loads pages quicker, and works without any problems so far!

Update: I also have switched to running a stock Mozilla Thunderbird (currently at 1.5rc2), based on a similar How-To, and have had no problems.

BlueDragon on Ubuntu (Revisited)

Having recently upgraded most of my boxes to Ubuntu 5.10, I needed to get NewAtlanta’s BlueDragon CFML server re-installed. The good news is that the steps from my earlier post worked verbatim (aside from finding a couple of tweaks to the post where I clearly mis-typed a portion of a step or two). The good news is that I now have BD6.2 running against the stock Ubuntu Apache 2.0.54, and MySQL 4.0.24. I have gone back and tweaked just a couple of items in those instructions to clear up those mistakes.