Ubuntu Experiences

I have been using Ubuntu for quite a long time and seen lots of its releases. Some of them were really groundbreaking in features. Many of them showed a new route for other distro developers. Indeed Ubuntu enjoys a strong community ahead of Fedora. Apart from Ubuntu, other most famous distros are Fedora and OpenSuse, but none of them have such a strong, dedicated and friendly community. The community factor is the place where Ubuntu is miles ahead of any other Operating System.

I first saw Ubuntu in Nov, 2006 when one of my friend Swaroop Hegde, installed it on his system. It was really amazing to see an OS running Live without even touching the Hard Disk. Most of the features like Graphics, Wireless, Wired Network worked out of the box without any additional drivers. Firefox was the default browser which made me especially happy.

Even though all these advancements, each Ubuntu release has a habit of breaking down the installation except one release – Feisty Fawn 7.04. The first one which I tried was Dapper Drake 6.06, which ran very smoothly on my system and had great hardware support for all the devices I used. The next release Edgy Eft 6.10 broke my PPPoE internet connection which I have at home provided by BSNL. Edgy was one of the worst release I ever tried out till now. Next came out Feisty Fawn 7.04 which gave a new direction to the Ubuntu community. It had exceptionally good user experiences, didnt crash all of a sudden or any hardware glicthes we expected due to last release. Its the best release I consider till now.

Next in the line was Gutsy Gibbon which did a daring move to incorporate a lot of new features like Compiz Fusion and NTFS-3g. People started facing problems especially due to the fact that their graphics card didn’t have proper drivers for Desktop Effects to be enabled. For many the LiveCD didnt even boot up. Hundred people, hundred problems. The ubuntu devs slowly fixed up all such problems with automatic updates. The problem didn’t stop till this line. Another ghastly problem which was knocking at the doorsteps was Flash Problem Update which gave nightmares to all YouTube users. I was still shocked how the devs took such a long time fixing up this problem. The Forums were flooded with help requests on Flash on Gutsy.

Next in the series was Hardy Heron 8.04 which did live up to its expectations to break some of the left out features. As opposed to Gutsy, this was an LTS which is supposed to be a Long Term Release being supported upto three years. The initial problem which was out there in wild was the fsync problem concerning Firefox, which made this excellent browser freeze for around 20-30 seconds occasionally. Apart from that, I faced some problems with gdm which was not starting after 4-5 restarts. The major update 8.04.1 fixed many many of the problems and at this stage am not even facing a single problem, everything is working fine. SWEET!

The next release Interpid Ibex used 2.6.27 kernel, due to which people reported a lot of problems. For many systems the LiveCD booting is as slow as sloth. The problems lies somewhere in ACPI being turned on , even on unsupported motherboards. I didnt upgrade fearing some problems which affected the Intel 3945ABG Wireless Drivers which suffered from some weird bugs, and half of the bug report was completely greek to me.

After using Ubuntu for around two years, the only thing which comes to my mind is that it rocks. APT fares better than YUM, dependency resolution is better in any case when compared to RPM based distros. Leaving everything, the best thing which comes to my mind is SHIP IT!


9 thoughts on “Ubuntu Experiences

  1. Well I would say Ubuntu overall is an good distro. But so are opensuse and mandriva. I’ve been using mostly Ubuntu (from 7.10) but I am not convicted it’s better than other popular distro.

    Linux is evolving quickly and the 6 month release cycle might be a good thing in some way but I mean it is really fast and introduce lot’s of new bug and little time to fix them.

    Like you said there are always something that breaks on every version.
    It might be some hardware not working anymore, some package that are broken.
    Something can’t be helped but I don’t think most ppl which aren’t linux enthusiast would like to keep up with that.
    I think in the long run Ubuntu should be pushing their LTS release and leave the rest to user that want the cutting edge.

    At the same time people want the latest software (a person might not be interested in the OS but might be a power user of say Open office) and that’s a very real problem IMO.

    I’ve just given an Ubuntu 8.10 to one of my friend today… which doesn’t care much about computer but that is feed up with windows. Hope it work for him. (he need 3g and has pretty recent hardware so the improved wireless support in 8.10 might prove useful)

  2. I have been a Ubuntu user since 5.10 and I have not experienced any breakages, except 8.04.1 which refused to detect my monitor, but on the whole a very good experience.

    I upgraded my PC to 8.10 within 24 hours of it being released and I have to say that I am very impressed with it so far (it may be that I am using the 64-bit versions).

    But I am not stupid fanboy either, the decision not to include Open Office 3 is a weird one, and after testing fedora 10 and Mandriva 2009 I think that Ubuntu has some serious competition, especially as they have promised to overhaul the desktop look for the past 2 releases and they have still not delivered on that.

    Linux is fast moving and a lot can happen in 6 months, but if stability you are after and you are happy with the Debian base, then I can heartily recommend Debian Lenny.

  3. @marshal
    I do agree that Mandriva and OpenSuse are good distros, but dont you agree that OpenSuse servers are damn slow? Plus it lacks the community feel which Ubuntu has?
    A 6 month release cycle is apt, since so much development is going on in each arena, we cannot afford to miss it. Plus, some or the other distro has to take up the initiative.
    After reading your post, I too feel that Ubuntu should keep on pushing its LTS version for more support and the latest release as cutting-edge release.
    The download page shows both and explains well which one you should download in what scenario.

    1. Most likely you are using proxy svrrees to access internet. Get the same from a windows system. it will be present in i-explorer->tools->network connections -> proxy address.get the address as wel as port. You will be asket to provide username and password also if your network is using authentication. enter these information in web browser of knoppix also. try this, its going to be very easy!if thats not workrd, you need to find out how computernames and their ip address are assigned in your network. You can access other computers so i think it is configured correctly but still, if u are not using dhcp, get the gateway and dns address from a windows system and assign the same in your knoppix.You can get these info from control pannel->network connection->your connection->right click to properties->tcp/ip->right click to propertiesbest of luckexperience

  4. @AmblestonDack
    Since you have been using Ubuntu since 5.10, you must be knowing that how great advancements Ubuntu has made in such a short period.
    I too had some problems with 8.04 in the beginning,but regular updates fixed them all and at the present stage my Ubuntu installation is the best of them all which I ever had.

    I havnt tried out OO 3.0, but is it included in Fedora 10 and Mandriva 2009? If its the case, then it should be surely given a thought for inclusion in Jaunty.

    As far as overhauling the desktop look is concerned, I dont think its so easy, they once tried out the Dark theme, only to be flamed. People like the Mac Theme, but that’s too cheap!
    The best way is the try their best to incorporate the Dusk theme which has won hearts of millions till date.

    A lot can happen in 6 months, so many new hardware come out and Kernel development branch too changes. We cant afford to run an older distro with even an older kernel.

  5. If you haven’t tried it, then don’t write about it. I have tried the last several releases since alpha with no problems at all. I have installed 8.10 several times on desktops and my eeePC 900, always with good results.
    Saying that 8.10 has problems without actually using it is fear mongering.

    People should always try it out for themselves and should never listen to the experiences of others, mine included. Spreading fear will stop people from trying it out and it serves no purpose as many people upgrade without any problems.

    So, it is time to get real. Write about your experiences and not your fears.

    Not everybody should upgrade. Some people should stick with the LTS releases because they will want the longer support and stability that it gives. The six month upgrade cycle is voluntary. It comes with improvements, but it also has a risk attached to it. It all has to do with your experience and risk aversion levels.

  6. @Linuxcanuck
    I havnt tried it out because everyone besides me trying it out was having problems,besides my computer is not a testing system. I have only one laptop which is for development.

    Only one gal whom I know was able to run it properly, rest everyone’s system dragged badly and hanged at the booting stage. In Lenovo R61, the Intrepid alternate CD says “Unable to detect network interfaces”. What more is required.

    When I said I havn’t tried it out, I mean that I didn’t try it out on my system. Who is stopping me to try it out on other’s system? I finally installed 8.04 on that Lenovo R61 which worked with charm.

  7. I recently was fttuonare enough to receive a review copy of this book from Prentice Hall publishers, and am happy to submit this review. I found this very large volume (1008 pages!) to be quite interesting and a valuable source of information for both Linux beginners and veterans alike. As the title may suggest, it covers some of the most commonly used Linux commands, the two main editors (Vim and Emacs), and some shell programming techniques with the Bash and tcsh shells. I found it to be quite distro-neutral , as the material presented should be available on virtually any Linux system, and does not reference distro-specific tools. The book seems very well organized into Parts and Chapters, and there are also some excellent appendices and additional matter at the end of the book, which I’ll discuss later in this review.Part I is entitled The Linux Operating System , and starts out with some introductory welcome and getting started material which is good reading for newbies but can easily be skipped by others. The next chapter in this part covers how to use the more commonly used commands such as ls, cp, rm, and tar. This is followed up by a chapter on the Linux filesystem, including the hierarchical layout, directories, pathnames, permissions, and file links. There is a nice section in this chapter which describes what is found in nearly all of the standard directories such as /boot, /etc, /home, /usr, and so on. Also notable here was an excellent description of how to set (and understand!) file and directory permissions. The final chapter in this part provides an introduction to the shell and command line. It covers standard input/output, redirection, pipes, and backgrounding of commands. Most of the information in these first 5 chapters will probably be a review for more experienced Linux users, but they are outstanding reading for newcomers. One thing I did notice as a great feature of the book is that there is a Chapter Summary at the end of each chapter which is really excellent, and a list of Exercises to help you see and use the information in a more hands-on way.Part II is called simply The Editors , and devotes about 60 pages each to Vim and Emacs. A brief history of each is provided, and a pretty good tutorial of basic usage is walked through. Both chapters include a command referance/summary, and some customization tips. Even the well known debate about which editor to use is mentioned, although no preference is indicated. For the record, this writer prefers Vim J There are more in-depth books available to explain each editor in greater detail, but these chapters provide a good introductory lesson.Part III contains two chapters, one each on the bash shell and the tcsh shell. Some of the procedures and concepts in this part may well be more information than is desired by many Linux users, but command-line types will want to read all of this material. The differences between these two shells are discussed, and the fact that most users will only need to learn about bash , as it is normally the default shell on most modern Linux distributions. I found some good information on customizing your shell, and using the dot files such as .bash_profile and .bashrc to control things like aliases and your environment variables.Part IV covers Programming Tools . The first chapter here discusses programming in C, including the basics of the gcc compiler, using shared libraries, debugging procedures, system calls, and source code management (CVS). It should be noted that this chapter describes the process of writing and compiling programs with C, but is not intended to teach C programming if you don’t already understand most of it. The next chapter (11) is a quite extensive (about 100 pages) discussion of programming with the Bash shell. It covers control structures, parameters, variables, loops, arrays, expressions, functions, and builtin commands. Numerous examples are shown to help with understanding the concepts. I would recommend this particular chapter for those wishing to increase their ability to write effective shell scripts for system administration. The final two chapters in Part IV cover the gawk and sed utilities, which are essential for more advanced text processing and shell scripting. Again, there are numerous excellent examples given which really aid in understanding the material, followed by some suggested excercises for putting your new knowledge to work. This part should be required reading for any system administrator.Part V is the Command Reference section. This is a very complete reference (240 pages) on how to use virtually all Linux utilities and shell builtins, from at to xargs . The layout for each command is presented in the manner of a man page, only much more readable and including excellent notes and examples which are not found in a man page. All options are well explained, and there is extensive use of tables and summaries. This may be the most useful portion of the entire book, and serves both as a great refresher for veterans, and a nice learning process for beginners. The material here is presented in plain English , which helps a lot.The remainder of the book is made up of three appendixes, a glossary, and an index. Appendix A is an excellent presentation of regular expressions , an often little-understood but important skill for system administrators to have. Spend some time reading this one. Appendix B is simply called Help , and tells you about the wide array of help resources available to a Linux user. Helpful websites are listed, and mailing lists and newsgroups are described. The final Appendix C touches on keeping your system updated, although it is quite limited by only discussing the yum and apt utilities. This could have been done a little better by including some additional distro tools, and/or more generic ideas for updating. The final two sections of the book are a 50 page Glossary and a 50 page Index, both of which seem quite complete.Overall I found this book to be quite excellent, and it has earned a spot on the very front of my bookshelf. It covers the real guts of Linux the command line and it’s utilities, and does so very well. It’s strongest points are the outstanding use of examples, and the Command Reference section. Highly recommended for Linux users of all skill levels. Well done to Mark Sobell and Prentice Hall for this outstanding book!

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