Monday, October 22, 2007

Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon

I finally got a Ubuntu 7.10 CD I burned to verify, using a brand new CD instead of scrounging for unused ones at the bottoms of boxes really is a better way to go if you want reliable recordable media. Before I took it to my parents' house to upgrade my old laptop on which I installed Ubuntu 7.04 before letting them use it, I decided to pop it into my iMac on a lark to see what would happen. I didn't even expect the thing to be recognized as a bootable media but lo and behold..

Ubuntu on iMac

The boot sequence was lasting an excruciatingly long time, and I figured it had choked, but wouldn't you know it..

Ubuntu on iMac

I still hate this whole brownish-orange theme that the Ubuntu people have going on, but props to them for at least being the one organization not adopting pastal blue as their colour scheme of choice. I just wish it was a colour set that didn't bring back memories of an evening mixing too much Guinness with chicken korma.

The above pictures of my messy desk popped right up on the screen when I plugged the camera into the iMac's USB 2 port. The photo management program loaded so fast I thought it was a USB error before the pictures started appearing. I would have uploaded them straight to Flickr from there but the system didn't detect my Airport wireless card. Too bad. Also I didn't really investigate it but I wasn't seeing any fancy 3D Compiz Fusion effects among the icons or the windows on the desktop, so I assume that it wasn't detecting the Radeon graphics card buried inside m iMac somewhere. (Sorry PC users, those of us who don't pay more for graphics cards than for XBoxes don't tend to remember the exact model they have installed at all times.)

But I was pretty happy that the thing just booted. It's not like I was going to install it or anything, especially since my name is already on the Little Mac Shoppe's handy dandy Leopard list, and even in my 'gotta try every new Linux distro there is' days of the late 90s / early 2000s I didn't do 2 OS installs in 4 days. It's just as well, too, since booting back into OS X and getting a fully-functional desktop took less time than any single bootup phase on a fresh Ubuntu install. The Linux people really need to look into concurrent booting. It does wonders.

So that little adventure concluded, I moseyed on over to the parents' place and began the upgrade fun. Except, that upgrading was not an obviously easy thing to do. I put the CD in and it wanted to guide me through wiping out the whole hard drive. This was the default option. BAD THING.

Instead I had to manually edit the partition tables.. and it wouldn't let me do things the intuitive way, instead I got to hold the answer to "what's 16007 - 1024" in my head so I had enough partition space left to make properly-sized a swap partition. The long-standing user-friendly Linux problem that as soon as you stumble off the easy default path they laid out for you you're back in the jungle is rearing its head again. But after that it just nicely went about its business copying itself onto the partition I laid out for it.. And the neatest thing about installing from a Live CD was that I was able to surf the web while the new OS was installing itself. Now, I know I'll be too giddy watching the shiny bubbly progress bar go on its merry way while I spend my Friday evening installing Leopard to think 'gee I wonder if there's a new Slashdot post up yet?' it's still damn impressive that Ubuntu lets you do this, point for Ubuntu.

Now, after rebooting is where I notice the fatal mistake I made. Back when I installed Feisty on the Laptop, it very helpfully asked if I wanted to migrate the user profiles and documents folders from the Windows XP partition into Ubuntu. This worked great, and al lthe documents and usernames were in Ubuntu just as they appeared in Windows. Now, here's where the fatal mistake comes in: I didn't realize that instead of just pointing to the Documents folder on the Windows partition, it just copied the whole thing over. SO when I backed up the Evolution e-mail folder to what I thought was the documents folder on the Windows partition that I was going to leave alone, I was actually just copying it to the NEW documents folder on the Linux partition that I was about to obliterate. BAD BAD BAD THING. MINUS MANY POINTS FOR UBUNTU. I know I should have been more diligent and backed it up to an external drive, but I left that at home, and I was just so taken with Ubuntu's otherwise quite intuitive nature that I figured it was intuiting the same mental path I was, that why would you copy a users' documents when you can point to their old documents folder, and then he can have his most up-to-date changes in his Windows partition if he boots back into Windows and wants to do some work. Sadly, this wasn't the case, and a few weeks' worth of work and e-mails are now gone forever.

Fortunately it wasn't too bad in any real sense, since a lot of the e-mails were still sitting on the ISP's servers, but I am still bitter that Ubuntu pulled a rather obnoxious user lock-in move like that - effectively making work you do in Ubuntu invisible to Windows, at least for users who don't know how mount points work - supposedly Ubuntu's intended audience.

Anyway, all that said, the fact that in 40 minutes I was sitting in front of a fully-functional operating system that was more than adequately secured against viruses and spyware, had perfectly working installs of OpenOffice, FireFox and Evolution, and which didn't require a single driver CD for a camera or scanner or printer, is absolutely amazing. If it weren't for the partition thing then my parents certainly could have swung the Ubuntu install. There's no way I'd say the same leaving them with a Windows XP CD and a pile of driver discs and the final "oh, I hope you burned your network card driver to a CD before your system crashed" farewell.

Windows is very nearly completely irrelevant to my computing universe. And Ubuntu is starting to play as big a role in this as OS X is.

I still hate their colour scheme, though.

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By al - 9:17 p.m. |

I started running 7.10 on a VMWare virtual machine on my Macintosh. It is very good. VMWare let me use an ISO as a boot image and th install "just worked." I have read that there have been some sporadic problems installing but it was very painless in my case.
it's.... so pretty....

when i had ubuntu running on my pc, i just sat there and looked at it for awhile.

i don't really know how i feel about it running on a mac. i mean, i dig mac os. I WILL DIG LEOPARD EVEN MORE ONCE I HAVE IT IN MY GRUBBY LITTLE PAWS!
The default color scheme in Kubuntu is much nicer :) Plus you're not stuck with Gnome.

Plus I assume your parents comp is on dialup, because I can't think of any other reason why you wouldn't do an apt-get dist-upgrade.

And as for Leopard, I like having enough Macs in the house that it is cheaper for me to buy a family license pack for me and Mel!
do u know what ubuntu means (the word itself), it's african. i'm sure u do but if u don't check it out, u'll like it.
wikipedia tells me: "The name of the distribution comes from the southern African concept of ubuntu which may be rendered roughly as "humanity toward others", or "we are people because of other people" though other meanings have been suggested"

that IS neat!
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