Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ubuntu 7.04 Alpha 4/5? Sudden flood of updates, operational oddities

The Ubuntu developers have been busy. First I got a 133 package update yesterday, followed by something I'd not seen before: a second update that told me it was performing a version update. I'm assuming this is for migrating Alpha 4 to Alpha 5.

Some interesting operational features and oddities:
  • I've seen this happen before but I've never commented on it. When an application crashes a Gnome dialog appears asking if I want to send in a crash report. If I say yes it gathers information and sends it to the Ubuntu bug site. If it's a new bug I'm told so, otherwise I'm directed to a page with other bug reports matching my problem. From that point I can either enter a new one, attach to an existing, or just not do anything. Two comments on this feature:
    1. It's better than Windows, and
    2. It's better than any other Linux distribution I've worked with so far because no other distribution I've worked with had this feature.
  • Compiz is definitely not all there yet, but it's improving. I enabled it after the updates, and got the familiar wobbling windows and shadowing effects. I would have left it enabled except that window interiors refuse to display. The window decorations are there, but nothing on the interior. Oddly enough the Desktop Effects applet works regardless, so I was able to turn the feature off when it was in Compiz mode. One other excellent feature: unlike the Suse implementation, I don't have to log out to finish enabling it. It's turned on and off right there on the desktop. This is going to be slick when it's finally finished.
  • Sound has become erratic. Sometimes when I boot up it doesn't work, sometimes it does.
  • Somebody got rid of Control Center! It's gome from the System menu. Fortunately it's still in Ubuntu. I create a new launcher for it on my upper panel. The System menu now has a Preferences menu, and I don't like it nearly as much as Control Center.
  • After downloading four '300' Quicktime videos from RottenTomatoes, I found I can play them back (and when the sound works, I can hear them as well). I've also discovered I have excellent WMV support. With all my favorite codecs covered I have absolutely no reason to run Windows on this platform any more.
Between the new features coming out for Ubuntu 7.04 and NetBeans 5.5 and 6, it's turning into a very interesting new year.

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