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Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex): Very Impressive!

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I've been using Ubuntu on a daily basis since its 7.04 ("Feisty Fawn") release (having migrated there after so many years of Windows that I didn't know the meaning of the term "operating system", which is the first sign of a Windows user) and have generally been quite happy with it. However, my initial enthusiasm decreased at some stage, in particular with the Hardy Heron release. That may either have been because of Hardy Heron itself or because of other reasons unrelated to Ubuntu, it's hard to tell. The most significant problems that I've had consistently are as follows:

  • Dual monitor nightmares. There were even three separate occasions where my laptop became completely unusable and I was forced to use someone else's laptop for the presentation I was doing at the time. The worst thing about dual monitor problems is that they tend to happen in full view of your audience (i.e., you're setting up your laptop, normally about 10 minutes before the presentation begins, while the room is starting to fill up with your audience-to-be, which is pretty terrible if you're struggling to set up your environment and, especially, if you have to give up completely and then find yourself doing a presentation on someone else's laptop, arranged at the very last minute, causing delays and a flustered presenter, etc.) And it wasn't just me. In the space of about one week I saw two others with exactly the issues that I had. I seriously began to suspect that Ubuntu detects whether a projector cable is plugged in and then throws a horrible exception just to toy with your fragile sanity right before a presentation. This problem, all on its own, is enough for me to give up on Ubuntu completely, since I need to do presentations now and then, at least enough for this problem to have a serious impact on my work.

  • Wireless problems. Not in the beginning, but as time went by it became more difficult to rely on the wireless support provided by Hardy Heron. Though, again, that could have been for other reasons. But the tools increasingly gave up on me and I was forced to use cable connections, which were not always available, which was pretty frustrating at some points where I most needed to be on-line.

  • Sluggish FireFox 3.0. The long awaited FireFox 3.0 was extremely sluggish on Hardy Heron. (Google for "Ubuntu slow FireFox 3.0" and see for yourself.) Everything related to FireFox 3.0 was pretty poor on Hardy Heron and I would have dropped FireFox 3.0 completely, had it not been for the fact that I needed to familiarize myself with the draggable applet support in JDK 6 Update 10, which is only supported by FireFox 3.0 (and Internet Explorer, but I don't want draggable applets that much...).

  • Suspend support. I always looked enviously at Mac users in the queue at airports who'd calmly whip out their Mac, press a single key, and immediately have their system available to them. That had never been the case for me. I've found that whole experience quite terrible on Ubuntu. Either the related functionality was hard to find or it worked unreliably and the whole system died instead of suspending.

  • Mac-like effects. Beryl and other special effects never worked for me on Ubuntu. Within an hour or two, an ugly black bar appeared that refused to go away until I disabled Beryl. Similar stuff just didn't work or caused performance problems. I never wanted those effects badly enough to simply accept the performance hit, so I never enabled them again after the moment that I disabled them.

Now... the above is all old news. The new news is that... with Ubuntu 8.10 I do not have even one of the above problems. I don't even have the smallest problem that even resembles any of the above issues. Of course, Ubuntu 8.10 has only been released a week or so ago, and so time will tell what will remain of all the current amazingness, but (for the moment and knock on wood) all things are perfect. What was especially gratifying was that at presentations I delivered over the last two days... the dual monitor set up took LITERALLY two minutes! And not just once (which could have been a fluke). I had to hook up to a second monitor multiple times and each time there wasn't even a hint of a problem.

Good job, Ubuntu. This ibex is indeed intrepid.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Geertjan Wielenga.


Ryan Developer replied on Sun, 2008/11/09 - 9:17pm

A Sun employee not using OpenSolaris? tsk tsk... :)   I'm trying to decide if I will go from Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10, or give OpenSolaris 2008 11 a chance when it is released.

Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Sun, 2008/11/09 - 10:23pm in response to: Ryan Developer

If only OpenSOlaris had half decent set of drivers and apps that I am used to on my Ubuntu box...anything more esoteric (e.g. the Hydrogen drum machine) is pretty much impossible to get on OpenSolaris.

And don't get me wrong, but building a community around their OSS offerrings isn't exactly Sun's greatest strength....

Ryan Developer replied on Sun, 2008/11/09 - 11:02pm

OpenSolaris has all the drivers necessary for my computer and I've already verified that every app I'm using on Ubuntu is available on OpenSolaris.  Even compiz works out of the box.  Some of the apps I need come from the SFW repository instead of the main OpenSolaris IPS repository though.  The only pain point I foresee is how CUPS support is implemented in OpenSolaris vs the Ubuntu. As long as I can get CUPS working I doubt there will be other problems. 

I think Sun has has been examplary in building open source communities, especially with GlassFish and its sub-projects.

Radek Jun replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 2:29am

I've tried OpenSolaris 2008.5 on my old computer (AMD "something" 1GHz, 512MB). Drivers for that HW are OK, except of RAID and soundcard (I have to look for some). I like Gnome UI and new graphic packaging manager, but all is very slow :(. CPU mostly takes 100%. Today I'd like it remove by Ubuntu 8.10 and I hope at least it will be faster :).

Casper Bang replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 7:47am

Yeah 8.10 is running well, just don't install Kubuntu bits - KDE 4.1 is still not ready for prime time and it screws up certain Gnome parts.

Ryan Developer replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 8:23am

I found OpenSolaris 2008 05 slow too, and buggy.  So much so I stopped using it and went back to Ubuntu.  I think I'm going to give them another chance with 2008 11.  Maybe I'll dual boot Ubuntu 8.10 and OpenSolaris 2008 11

Setya Djajadinata replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 9:28am

Has anyone tried Xubuntu 8.10 ? I'm considering to switch to it after having problem with Fedora 9 recently.

Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 9:58am in response to: Setya Djajadinata

If you want to try the Xfce desktp, you may want at DreamLinux instead...I tested out 3.5RC and it was *very* nice...a level of polish that would make Mac proud...



Kristian Rink replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 10:26am in response to: Ryan Developer

@Ryan: For what I have seen so far, OS 2008.11 has made some major improvements compared to 08.05 that make considering using it on a daily basis rather worthwhile. Especially Time Slider (integrating ZFS snapshots with the GNOME file manager) is quite a good thing finally also adding some functionality making OpenSolaris on the desktop somewhat "more" than just a "new Linux-like distribution"... ;)


Setya Djajadinata replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 10:50am in response to: Jacek Furmankiewicz


Thanks for your information on DreamLinux.

My question, is it a kind of Linux distro that's appropriate for us, Java developers, or developers in general ?




Jacek Furmankiewicz replied on Mon, 2008/11/10 - 11:20am in response to: Setya Djajadinata

I've had no problems with any Linux distro. Some have a JDK included, some don't. I usually install any latest JDK I want from the Sun site and just point to it (worst case I ever had to do was define a $JAVA_HOME variable in the .bashrc file).


P.S. BTW, did you notice the min hardware requirements for DreamLinux are 128 MB of RAM...nice to see something still focuses on the lean and mean out there.

bhaskar k replied on Tue, 2008/11/11 - 7:20am

I can't get the JDK's opengl pipeline to work under 8.10, used to worked perfectly under 8.04 even with Compiz and all.

But under 8.10 I get a grey box or occasionally rapidly blinking content, with or without compiz. I think it's the latest ATI drivers that have screwed things up.


Java + Compiz is still a mess though. I have heard of 3 different solutions, and none of them work consistenly.


J Szy replied on Wed, 2008/11/12 - 2:26am

Wow! I really mean WOW!

Ubuntu can now use WiFi, work dual headed and suspend, and it's only november 2008!

Impressive indeed.


Jason Kilgrow replied on Wed, 2008/11/12 - 1:59pm

I'm currently on 64-bit 8.04. Is 64-bit 8.10 any different than than the 8.10 that everyone else in this chain is running?

How did everyone upgrade? Did you blow away your current installation or did you upgrade using the update manager? or...what?

Geertjan Wielenga replied on Wed, 2008/11/12 - 3:56pm in response to: Jason Kilgrow


I'm currently on 64-bit 8.04. Is 64-bit 8.10 any different than than the 8.10 that everyone else in this chain is running?

How did everyone upgrade? Did you blow away your current installation or did you upgrade using the update manager? or...what?


I (partly by accident and partly by design) blew away everything I had on my system. Fresh beginning, good thing sometimes.

Jason Kilgrow replied on Thu, 2008/11/13 - 12:09am

Well...I tried the upgrade. It "sorta* worked. I lost my ability to connect to any network. And it seemed hopeless. Since I'm no networking guru, I weighed my options and decided it was going to be less pain and time to just grab a few things (I do a complete backup of my system daily) and start fresh.


The Ibex is being installed now...I have high hopes.  :) 

Radek Jun replied on Thu, 2008/11/13 - 2:38am in response to: Jason Kilgrow

I installed Ubuntu 8.10 over OpenSolaris yesterday and everyting works fine (even ethernet network). Good for me is that Ubuntu is faster then OpenSolaris. I run it on older computer (AMD 1GHz, 512MB RAM).

Ryan Developer replied on Thu, 2008/11/13 - 8:45am in response to: Radek Jun

[quote=radek.jun]I installed Ubuntu 8.10 over OpenSolaris yesterday and everyting works fine (even ethernet network). Good for me is that Ubuntu is faster then OpenSolaris. I run it on older computer (AMD 1GHz, 512MB RAM).[/quote]

Which version of OpenSolaris were you using?

Radek Jun replied on Thu, 2008/11/13 - 9:07am in response to: Ryan Developer

I used OpenSolaris 2008.05 for x86.

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