Thursday, April 3, 2008

Upgrading to Hardy

I guess I love living on the edge - but only when it concerns installing beta software on my computer.. As I wrote in my post Why I use linux, my main OS is Ubuntu. A few days ago I finally upgraded it to the latest version - Hardy (it is a beta version now). As always with major upgrades, it it both funny and a bit annoying until you get used to the changes.
This post is about how the upgrade went and my thoughts about Ubuntu Hardy.

Photo by zone41


One of the reasons I decided to install the beta version was that if you download the beta version it takes less time to download. Ubuntu is a very popular distro, so when they roll out major upgrades their servers are totally overloaded. It is of course not very recommended to install beta software, but I already did it too many times so I saw no reason to worry. I also read a very positive review on Tombuntu - this is my second reason for upgrading. Without it I doubt I would take the risk to install a beta OS, when I need to work on my computer and don't have time to fix it if something goes wrong.

Unfortunately, the upgade didn't go too well. It ended up with this message: "Your system may be broken."
Not something you want to see after installing an OS... Thanks God it wasn't too horrible. I restarted the computer, and everything seemed to work just fine. Then I noticed that sudo was not working. If I tried to do anything that required super user privileges (due to the way I connect to the internet, I need sudo to work in order to be able to connect to the internet), I just got the following message - "unknown host". It turned out that the upgrade changed my hosts file. Sudo apparently used it to check on what computer it is running, and my computer didn't appear there. It is very easy to fix - but you can only edit the hosts file using sudo. Thanks God it turned out that sudo wasn't completely broken. Accessing synaptic in terminal and than becoming root from there, somehow allowed the graphical sudo - gksudo command to work.

New applications
I am not sure if it correct to say that Ubuntu 8.04 is a lot better than the previous version. But there are definitely changes. Unfortunately, most of the things I noticed so far are more like problems...
The main change for me is that Firefox 3.0 is the default browser now. Web browser is the most used program on my computer. There are a lot of visible changes in Firefox 3.0. It is faster, and the GUI is prettier. The most important change is that finally you can install extensions without going to their site - all you need to to is to start the add-ons manager and do a search for the extensions you want to install. There is also support for a new graphic format APNG.

If you are using Firefox 3 you should see the Firefox logo spinning.

However, this upgrade to Firefox 3.0 is causing me a lot of problems. Not all my extensions work in FF3. Some of them are simply incompatible - it is possible to use them anyway if you turn off the compatibility check. This is very easy to do, you just need to install the Nightly tester tools extension. Unfortunately, this trick doesn't help with all extensions. The Google Toolbar, for example, works only partially.
Also, because of how I connect to the internet I must turn off network-manager. This causes FF3 to start in offline mode.
I also noticed that for some reason web pages started to scroll down very slow.
As of now the problem outweigh the improvement in FF3... It is still in beta, so this is acceptable I guess.
This one is a nice little application. In Hardy you can install it by simply typing "sudo aptitude install gnome-do gnome-do-plugins" without the quotes. This application is a Linux version for Quicksilver - it can be called an application launcher but it is more than this. You can read more about it at Tombuntu - GNOME Do - Much More Than an Application Launcher.
I started to use kiba-dock a few months ago, and I like it. The version I had installed stopped working after the upgrade. The only way to get a newer version is building from source. I downloaded the latests svn, compiled it and it worked. Well almost worked. One of the main features of kiba-dock is akamaru engine - it lets launchers interact with each other. This is what makes this dock unique. For some reason it still doesn't work. I think I somehow manage to do a mistake while compiling the code, or perhaps I don't have a package required for it to work?
Update: For more information about this you can also read my post Installing Kiba-Dock in Ubuntu Hardy.

General impression
I feel that this release didn't add a lot. There are a lot of changes, but most of them are internal. I don't feel dissapointed - I knew that the plan for this release was to create a more stable system and not to add new features.
Overall, ubuntu is a very good system, especially for those who know how to and want to use their computer for anything more advanced than checking email. This release is a step in the right direction - the system is more easy to use now and (should be) even more stable.
I do not recomend to upgrade to Hardy now because it is still in beta, but it is not an upgarde to skip.
Update: If you liked this post, you may also want to read my thoughts about Ubuntu Hardy Gui.

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