Both better and worse than I thought

So, I got the partitioning right. And I cleaned out the old version of Ubuntu.&nbsp_place_holder; Except that I installed OpenSUSE on top of my new version of Ubuntu, and didn’t clean out the GRUB entries from my old install.&nbsp_place_holder; So now I can run OpenSUSE (Which doesn’t recognize my wireless card) and that’s it. It got late last night and I didn’t try installing again, but maybe tonight.&nbsp_place_holder; I have to look up how to clean out old entries from GRUB. I think maybe I can just delete the whole thing, and it will be remade when I reinstall Ubuntu, but I’m not totally sure. My initial impression of OpenSUSE is good, although I think I’m going to download 11.1. I got 11.0 back in June and never installed it, and now the next version is out.&nbsp_place_holder; It looks like the graphical installer got some major upgrades, so I think I will take advantage. That is something that Ubuntu needs to work on – I gave up on their graphical installer after three straight versions refused to play nice with my video card. Anyway, now I’m stuck at work and can’t do anything fun, but I hope to have both operating systems up and running by tomorrow. I’ll post a comparison eventually.

Linux geekery – Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex

I just installed the latest version of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. I totally botched my partitioning – I meant to install to a 20 GB partition with another 20 GB partition available for installing other Linux distributions (I’m going to start with OpenSUSE) just for fun, and then use whatever’s leftover for shared files. I also want to clean out the old version of Ubuntu, since I won’t be using it again. It looks like I did neither of those, so I’m going to have to try again. However, on booting up Intrepid Ibex for the first time, I noticed the Bluetooth icon. The last version of Ubuntu didn’t recognize the Bluetooth adapter in my laptop. It took me less than 30 seconds to hook up my laptop to my cell phone, something that I spent an hour trying to do on Windows XP and never really got to work properly. The process on Ubuntu was flawless and simple. Nice job, Ubuntu. Anyway, I’m off to try again. Or maybe I’m off to bed and will try again in the morning.

When all else fails, check the system logs

As some of you know, I’ve been using Ubuntu Linux as my only operating system on my personal laptop for about a year now. About a month ago, the wireless stopped working. Our router is a couple years old, so at first I thought that might be the problem. But the wife didn’t have any trouble connecting, and two computers from work could connect, so that wasn’t it. Then I thought it might be the latest Ubuntu kernel update. A few threads on the Ubuntu Forums seemed to suggest that might be the case, but no one seemed to have quite my problem. And then the upstairs neighbor came home from vacation and turned his wireless network back on. I still have his password saved from once when I was borrowing his network while ours was out, and I could connect to that, no problem. So I was puzzled. I posted a few times to the Ubuntu Forums, which usually are very helpful, but got no response. I did a lot of Googling. Nothing. Finally I found something on Google Groups. Someone having an unrelated problem had found the answer in his system logs. System logs? Holy cow, I have system logs! I suppose I should have known about them, but it seems strange that I’ve never seen mention of them on the Ubuntu Forums, or anywhere else. Sure enough, the system logs told me that the stored info that allows the network handshake to happen was bonked. access point 'coatimundi' is encrypted, but NO valid key exists. New key needed. So I deleted the saved connection info for my network and tried to connect again. It asked me for my password, and POOF! Connection is successful. So now I have my laptop back. And all is right with the world. If you are having problems with anything in Ubuntu, or probably any other Linux distro, check your system logs. The answer may be right in front of your face.

Why do you think I’m stupid, Microsoft?

If you read any of the blogs that I do, you’ve probably already seen Bill Gates’ 2003 complaint about Windows Update. Windows Update is a piece of junk. It’s always been a piece of junk. It probably always will be a piece of junk. What’s really disappointing is that it doesn’t have to be. Take a look at the package manager in Ubuntu Linux. It’s probably the same in many other flavors of Linux, but I don’t have experience with them. Anyway, package manager is simple. When there are new versions of software or new patches to the operating system, it puts a little notification in my taskbar. When I click the notification, it tells me what is available for update. It even separates them into recommended vs optional, and tells me a little bit about each update. I can choose some, all, or none of the updates to apply. When it’s finished updating, sometimes I have to restart. It puts another notification in the taskbar, and then that’s it. I can restart when I’m ready. Windows, on the other hand, is much more obnoxious. By default, it doesn’t want to tell me what it’s doing. When it finishes, it pops up a window that tells me to restart now or later. If I say later, it pops up again in a couple of minutes. And again. And again. Look, Microsoft, sometimes I’m at work and don’t have the time to restart. Sometimes I’m in the middle of something and just don’t feel like restarting. Why can’t I have that option? Why can’t you just show me a little “You need to restart at some point” notification and leave it at that? And we’re not even talking about Vista here. This is XP on my work computer. And the only reason Windows is on the computer at all is because it’s a work computer. I’ve restarted now, and everything seems to be fine. I don’t know what update it did, but everything still works, so it can’t have been too big a deal. Nice to see Microsoft still patching XP – I guess they realize that Vista sucks, and most people who don’t have to upgrade haven’t (and won’t).

I have powers you can’t even imagine

It’s been about three and a half hours since I complained about the lack of 64 bit Flash for Linux. Just a minute ago, I was checking out the latest on my RSS feed, and there was a Flash video on BoingBoing. Firefox popped up the little message, asking if I wanted to install the plugin. I figured it wouldn’t work, but I did it anyway. The package manager installed flashplugin-nonfree, and it worked! I can watch YouTube videos! I can use Google Analytics! Even MLB GameDay works! It’s amazing! So, I apologize, Ubuntu. You’ve been so good to me, and I nearly kicked you to the curb just because Fedora put out a new distro. But I’m back now. I’m right back on the Ubuntu bandwagon. On a side note, I’m available for freelance complaining. This is not the first time I’ve complained about something that was magically fixed soon afterwards. For a very reasonable hourly rate, I’ll complain about something that you’d like fixed. Results not guaranteed. Nor even expected.

Oh, Ubuntu, you make me laugh

I tried out Fedora for a few minutes. The Gnome desktop looks just like Ubuntu. I’m going to do some research and see what the real differences are. When I rebooted into Ubuntu, I had some upgrades to install, which I did. One of them popped up this message:

A security certificate which was automatically created for your local system needs to be replaced due to a flaw which renders it insecure. This will be done automatically. If you don’t know anything about this, you can safely ignore this message.

That’s pretty awesome.

Is anyone else annoyed by Ubuntu 8.04?

I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by Ubuntu 8.04 – Hardy Heron. I upgraded from 7.10, which I was pretty happy with, and I’d kind of like to go back. I haven’t been getting crashes or freezes or anything like that, but it’s not more polished and stable than 7.10. Also, Firefox 3 Beta is annoying. A couple of the plugins I really like for Firefox 2 don’t work yet, and the new features aren’t cool enough to make it worth the upgrade for me. I also suspect some of my dissatisfaction is not 8.04’s fault – the lack of 64 bit Linux support in Adobe’s Flash is a huge pain. There are some websites that just don’t work without Flash (Some of them, like Google Analytics, are actually useful). And I can’t get Flash to work anymore. But it wasn’t working in 7.10, either. Anyway, I just downloaded and burned a live cd for Fedora 9, and I think I’m going to try it out. I don’t know if I’ll replace Ubuntu, but it’s worth a try. I can still be a smug Linux convert with Fedora. Maybe even smugger because Ubuntu is more mainstream than Fedora.

Watching a little basketball, playing with some computers

So how’s this for a great Friday evening: I’m sitting on the couch. To my left, the windows are open because it’s a gorgeous spring evening. Right next to me on the couch, the wife is napping, waiting for the Celtics game. I have a kitchen full of beer and wine left over from my birthday party last week. We have the ingredients ready for dinner, pasta with tomatoes and asparagus, plus some cauliflower poppers. In front of me is my brand new work computer, on which I’ve just installed Launchy, which everyone should install on their Windows machine. It’s similar to Gnome-Do for Linux and Quicksilver for Mac – I’ve been using Gnome-Do for a while and I love it, and wanted something like it for my Windows work machine. And speaking of Linux, my personal laptop is currently downloading and upgrading to the latest version of Ubuntu, Hardy Heron. So, I have sports, food and drink, computer geekishness, and my fabulous wife. I have no idea what more I could possibly want.

Kill Microsoft with Ubuntu, not BitTorrent

Techdirt: How Pursuing Software Piracy Hurts Proprietary Software Firms

After all, as Microsoft and others have long admitted, you’re much better off if someone is using an unauthorized version of your software, than if they’re using the competition (especially if that competition is free). If they’re using an unauthorized version of your software, then at least there’s a chance that they’ll either buy it at a later date or convince others to buy it. However, by putting such a big effort into cracking down on software piracy, all the industry has done is highlight why people are better off going with free alternatives.

This is a big reason why I’m using Ubuntu as my only operating system.  I dislike Microsoft, and have no interest in Vista.  But I’m not going to pirate it.  I dislike stealing, as well.  I won’t say that I’ve never pirated software or music or movies.  But when there is a free, open-source equivalent that fits my needs and I can live with the drawbacks (Ubuntu is obviously rougher than Windows.  But nothing deal-breaking for me.  YMMV.), I’m going to go with that, even though I know I could get a cracked copy of Vista or Photoshop or whatever expensive software I wanted.

Of course, I kind of shot myself in the foot with my last computer – I paid for the computer with Vista because I couldn’t get it without, and then overwrote it with Ubuntu.  But I remain hopeful that my next computer won’t have the “Microsoft Tax” on it.  I’d love to see Dell or someone start shipping all their computers with full hardware warranties and then some stripped down version of Linux.  When you boot up, it tells you, “This operating system is not supported by us.  It’s up to you to put whatever OS you want on there.  We promise the hardware will work, and we’ll replace it if it doesn’t.  Otherwise, you’re on your own.”  Or something to that effect.

Anyway, it’s great to see that the use of open source is expanding.  Maybe soon we’ll also be able to convince people that jumping to Apple because you hate Microsoft is like running from the hyena and getting eaten by the tiger.  Sure, the tiger is prettier and impresses your friends, but you’re still dead.

Gutsy first impressions

Overall, I’m really happy with Gutsy.  I find myself spinning the desktop cube just because I can.  But I haven’t done much yet.  Today I think I’m going to create a separate partition for my /home directory, and I’m going to pull the pictures I took yesterday off my camera and see about uploading them to Flickr.

I have some small issues.  First, the gnash free flash plugin doesn’t really work for Firefox on a 64 bit system.  The proprietary flash plugin is fine.

My panel icons are displaying at the center of the panel, not all the way on the right like they’re supposed to.  I haven’t really searched for a solution to this yet.

Other than that, this is a pretty slick OS.  Wireless has been perfect – the only setup I did was selecting my network and providing my WPA password once.  The frequent disconnects I got on Feisty have not happened at all.

Gutsy supports my Nvidia video card much better than Feisty.  I just had to choose a different driver in a drop down menu and then reset the screen resolution.

Anyway, if you’ve been thinking about trying out Ubuntu, now is the time.