Skip to main content

Ubuntu 7.04 Alpha 3/4 - Trying out the controls

I finally got some more time this evening to try out various applications with Ubuntu 7.04. But before I get started, I need to clarify a statement I made earlier. Not only are the Ubuntu developers deserving of praise, but so are the Debian developers as well. I meant no disrespect to the Debian developers or their hard work.

Firefox and Flash

One of the first and biggest surprises centers around Firefox and the Flash plugin. I went to Distrowatch to tracking down a few leads, and was presented with Firefox's "You need a plugin" banner and button at the top of the page. What the heck. I pressed the button to see what would happen. What happened next was absolutely profound. It worked. By that I mean the Flash plugin was downloaded and installed by Firefox without me being directed to Adobe's Flash download site. After it was downloaded, it was installed, and the Distrowatch front page refreshed so that the Flash content started to work. I was amazed, and just sat there in wonder. The last time it had worked this smoothly was Windows. It certainly doesn't work this well on Open Suse 10.2. Just to make sure it really worked I went over to Comedy Central and John Stewart. It works flawlessly. Oh, if all the other plugins and codecs would work so effortlessly. Unfortunately, they don't.

Package Management

I had one reader of my first Ubuntu entry write about Automatix2. That's a nice suggestion, but it doesn't work with Ubuntu 7.04. The most current version it works with is 6.10. I refused to be fooled (in case they were wrong) so I downloaded the DEB file and installed it. Sure enough, when I tried to run it the first time a dialog popped up and informed me it would not work on version 7.04. When that happened I turned to Synaptic Package Manager on the Control Center, found where I'd installed the package, and had Synaptic remove it completely. And you know what? It did.

While I was in Synaptic I installed the ATI drivers for X.org in a attempt to use the ATI 9600's hardware acceleration. The drivers didn't work, and they even caused the desktop to lock up when I tried to run some OpenGL applications. So I turned to Synaptic again, removed them completely, and found I had corrected the lockup problem.

I can live with issues of things not working in an alpha release. This is, after all, an alpha release. Did I mention this is an alpha release? What leaves me spinning faster than a turbine is the inability to easily and cleanly correct a screwup such as this. This version of Ubuntu (and I suspect, quite a few earlier versions as well) allows for this ability to correct installation mistakes. Every Linux distribution, especially final releases, and most particularly enterprise releases, need to have this ability, and it needs to be the same (or damn near close to it) so that skills learned on one distribution are transferable to another if needed.

What's with this "Alpha 3/4"?

Turns out that Alpha 4 was released last Friday, and I didn't know that little fact when I downloaded and installed Alpha 3. So I thought I was going to have to download Alpha 4 and do another re-installation. But after looking at the release notes and checking the release versions of a few sample applications, it looks like that massive 412 package upgrade right after I installed Alpha 3 migrated me automatically from Alpha 3 to Alpha 4. Will wonders never cease?

Looking for OpenOffice 2.1

I was mistaken about needing to install OO 2.1. When you look at the splash screen or about dialog, it says OpenOffice 2.0. But if you look at the fine print on the about dialog, it actually says 2.1. Looks like I had it all along.

Huston, I have a problem

I was cruising along so smoothly for so long that I went on ahead and tempted fate by trying to play my Serenity DVD. That's when fate bit back. Sure enough, as soon as I stuck the DVD in the drive, Totem popped up and immediately said it had a problem. OK. Let's see if I can find the right support with the tools supplied with Ubuntu. That's when I turned to Applications | Add/Remove...

Add/Remove Applications is probably one of the best package management tools I've used under Linux. The other is Yast. There was one instance where I couldn't use this tool and it told me so, recommending I use Synaptic instead. And here's where I have a problem. If Add/Remove "knows" I need to use Synaptic, then it should offer to launch it for me rather than just suggest I use it and then force me to hunt it down and launch it from Control Center.

In any event, I used Add/Remove to install Movie Player Totem, VLC, and Xine extra plugins. None of those choices helped provide libdvdcss, the decoder required to view DVD movies. I had to eventually hunt down a solution via Google, and then drop into a shell and work some command line magic with wget and apt before I could find the right version of libdvdcss and play back movies on Totem and VLC.

The final trick to this was to execute the following:

wget -c http://medibuntu.sos-sts.com/repo/pool/edgy/free/i386/libdvdcss2_1.2.9-2medibuntu2_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i libdvdcss2_1.2.9-2medibuntu2_i386.deb


When I did that everything started to work.

Final Thoughts

While I was busy installing packages from Add/Remove and Synaptic, I installed Java 6. It replaced the version I downloaded and installed by hand, and it worked flawlessly. I have NetBeans 6 Milestone 7 working on this machine because of it. Again, it took little effort and no surprised to just get it to work.

I've made more progress getting this machine set up in two days than I did in a week with Suse, and I thought I knew Suse pretty well. While I'm not going to say that Ubuntu 7.04 is better than Suse 10.2, it's certainly as good as. Except in one key area. Logistically, support-wise, Ubuntu is far better than any distribution, including Suse 10.2 and Yast. The tools just seem a lot more approachable, and the system seems more rugged and more forgiving of screwups.

The two failures I've had (easily installing DVD playback and video acceleration) are no different than what I've experienced with other distributions. I'll revisit the video acceleration later when 7.04 hits beta.

Easy DVD playback. What can I say? That we've had the ability essentially since 2002 and the work of DVD-Jon? That after five long years you'd think it would be made better available? Everything else works out of the box with Ubuntu. Why not this feature as well? Yes, I got it to work, but not easily. It's time to make this a part of Ubuntu and move on.

I'm still quite happy with Ubuntu. Happier, even.

Comments

  1. Ubuntu does not include libdvdcss in its repositories because it is illegal to distribute it in countries such as the U.S. For more information, see https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, and by the way- you should be able to get hardware acceleration on the 9600 using the open-source radeon driver, which is included by default. Hardware acceleration can be enabled by editing xorg.conf (if it isn't enabled by default). It is slower than the closed-source fglrx driver from ATI (the one you presumably tried to install), and 3D support is still considered "experimental" on r300-based cards, but it works for me on my 9600. Also, with the open-source driver you can use Beryl or Compiz without XGL.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ubuntu people are helpful, aren't they, Bill?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I switched from Ubuntu to openSuse because of some broken packages, all related to mencoder.

    These times when a miscompiled program generates an error I truly miss Gentoo. It is so much easier to fix an error in Gentoo than in any other distro.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What architecture are you running ubuntu 7.04 on? I am really pleased with Ubuntu 7.04 x86_64 but the only gripe is that firefox with java and flash plugin is still a pain to setup. But that is linux specific (x86_64) issue.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Your plain-old x86_32. In this case, an AMD Athlon XP 2500+ (1.8 GHz) Barton core 32-bit processor on a low-cost nForce2-based motherboard and 512MB of DDR2700 memory. It is a micro ATX motherboard.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

All comments are checked. Comment SPAM will be blocked and deleted.

Popular posts from this blog

A Decade Long Religious Con Job

I rarely write inflammatory (what some might call trolling) titles to a post, but this building you see before you deserves it. I've been seeing this building next to I-4 just east of Altamonte/436 and Crane's Roost for nearly 12 years, and never knew who owned it. Today on a trip up to Lake Mary with my wife I saw it yet again. That's when I told her I wanted to stop by on the way back and poke around the property, and photograph any parts of it if I could.

What I discovered was this still unfinished eighteen story (I counted) white elephant, overgrown with weeds and yet still under slow-motion construction. It looks impressive with its exterior glass curtain walls, but that impression is quickly lost when you see the unfinished lower stories and look inside to the unfinished interior spaces.

A quick check via Google leads to an article written in 2010 by the Orlando Sentinel about the Majesty Tower. Based on what I read in the article it's owned by SuperChannel 55 WA…

first night for the gingersnaps

The first night has passed and the two have managed to survive, in spite of what their tiny hearts might have thought when first arriving. Greebo, the larger of the two, has been in hiding the entire time so far. Ponder has spent the time zipping in and out of hiding spots, checking things out, and learning just how comfortable pillows are for resting your head.

During the night I felt the tiny body of Ponder hitting the bed as he leaped up on the side, and then climbed to the top to run around on top of me. At least once he play-attacked my fingers. He might be small but his claws are still quite sharp.

When I got up in the morning the bowl of cat kitten food was fairly well depleted. It's been refilled and fresh water put in the big dish on the floor. I'm assuming that both Greebo and Ponder are feeding and drinking. I have seen Greebo under the furniture peeking out at me when I went looking for him. I'm leaving him alone while he continues to adjust.

So far the guys h…

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…