Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ubuntu 7.04 Beta out and about

Ubuntu Beta hit the virtual streets today. Since I've been faithfully installing every update via Update Manager, I don't have a need to download the ISO and do a re-install on rhea. Never-the-less I downloaded the workstation ISO, burned the CD, and used it to boot my Gateway M685 notebook. That machine is notorious for not giving Linux a break, and it proved once again what a royal PITA it is to work with Linux. Ubuntu Beta failed to boot properly just like every other version of 7.04 has. Once again video failed completely. But Ubuntu Beta pulled a big surprise this time. It was able to enable the sound on the notebook so that even though the video screen was black I heard the login audible greeting. No distribution to date has enabled sound on that machine, not even Suse 10.1, which is currently installed. If Ubuntu 7.04 could just get its video issues fixed with the nVidia Go 7800 on that notebook, then it would be a serious winner, possible kicking Suse off completely.

One of the new tools I've discovered via the announcement is the visual Disk Usage Analyzer (Applications | Accessories | Disk Usage Analyzer). I fired it up and had it show me rhea's disk usage. A number of screen shots follow.

The first view is the entire file system. Disk Usage Analyzer spent several minutes following every partition and directory to catalog the entire data usage on rhea. I found that performance impressive considering the vintage of this machine and the amount of data collected over the last four years. If you hover the mouse pointer over each colored block you get labels identifying each partition or folder. Personally I'd rather have a feature where I could have all the sections from say, the center out to the first two layers labeled. That would make it a lot quicker to associate major sections of the graphic with corresponding parts of the file system.

Here I'm hovering over my home directory. If you click on any of the sections of the diagram, it will open it up and immediately show you a graphical view of that one selection.

And here I am checking out my home directory usage. This time the mouse was hovering over the area where I built the latest kernel. Note that it takes 1.2 GB of disk space after everything has been built. The outer layers are directories underneath linux-2.6.20.4 (sound, net, fs, drivers...). In spite of its several minor flaws, it's a powerful tool for quickly analyzing disk usage within the system.