The beta of the next Ubuntu release came out recently, so it’s time for me to upgrade. Usually I just dist-upgrade and keep going, but this time I’m starting fresh. I’ve got years of crap built up in my home directory and the system in general (I’ve been running Ubuntu since the first release in 2004, and I don’t think I’ve done a fresh install in all that time). Since I’m starting over anyway, I’m also giving the 64 bit version a shot. Here’s a semi-organized collection of impressions and issues:
First impression: it’s fast. Significantly faster than it was. There are several reasons for this:
- Fresh install.
- Gutsy install was old and had been dist-upgraded all the way from Warty.
- Was 32 bit, now 64 bit.
- Old PATA drive out, new SATA2 RAID1 in.
Second impression: memory usage sure goes up with a 64 bit install. Firefox 3 sits at around 1.1G now; before it was 500-700M. Of course, there’s a reason I put 4G of RAM in this machine.
I have a Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet, which I had to get working myself in gutsy. I had expected the driver to be included in hardy, but it isn’t. Just silly. The stock kernel driver doesn’t handle the Bamboo Fun at all, and the wacomcpl utility is missing from the wacom-tools package. It doesn’t look like this will get fixed for hardy.
Freemind and Java
Freemind has been the most trouble so far, but it’s not hard to fix. First, it needs 32 bit java5 (talking about Freemind 0.8.1 here), so install the ia32-sun-java5-bin package. Then edit or create ~/.freemind/freemindrc and put these lines in it:
export PATH=/usr/lib/jvm/ia32-java-1.5.0-sun-126.96.36.199/bin:$PATH export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/ia32-java-1.5.0-sun-188.8.131.52 export LIBXCB_ALLOW_SLOPPY_LOCK=1
The first two make freemind (and only freemind) use that older 32 bit java (FAQ), and the last is a workaround for a java bug. Oh, and install the freemind 0.8.1 package from the freemind site; the version in the ubuntu repo is old.
Skype was surprisingly easy to get working. All I did was make sure I had the 32 bit libraries and qt4 installed, and then force installed the Ubuntu package from the Skype site and it worked (video and all). It doesn’t seem to support pulseaudio at all though, so I may have to use the pasuspender workaround. There’s more useful info in this forum post. I’m not sure about the getlibs script linked in the forum. I ran it and it said it didn’t do anything, but Skype still works.
Wine, Flash, and media
Wine works great (all I’ve been using it for is Portal and Half Life 2). The nspluginwrapper magic that makes flash work causes mildly annoying pauses when loading a web page with flash in it, but it works well enough. I’ve had no media problems so far, everything that played before still plays. Totem seems to finally work with the gstreamer backend. I’ve always had to switch to totem-xine to get all my video files to work, but not this time. I use mplayer most of the time anyway, but it’s nice to see gstreamer working so well. Of course, I installed the ubuntu-restricted-extras package, and a few others from Medibuntu.
How is this still a problem? My mouse has a thumb button (usually used as back in browsers). This is pretty common, I think. It also has a tilting mouse wheel. None of these things work by default. The buttons aren’t even recognized by X. They are not straightforward to get working. Why?
Overall, I’m really happy with how Ubuntu 8.04 is looking. Of course, I say that every release. Ubuntu has steadily improved, each release building on the last to make something better every time. A great sign of this progress is the timing of my upgrades. Early on, I’d just run the development version all the time, moving to it as soon as work on it started. There were always features and fixes that I wasn’t willing to wait months for. A few releases ago, I stopped doing that. I just didn’t see any need. Ubuntu was good enough already.