Wednesday, October 24, 2007

All praises for Ubuntu 7.10

OpenSUSE 10.3 was the most anticipated release this October, but it failed to impress me with its highly unstable desktop.
I had crashes with Kaffeine, Kmplayer, Quanta and Kompozer. This was enough to frustrate me and look out for better options. Ubuntu 7.10 released at the right time and I was almost waiting for it.
I downloaded the i386 iso via bittorrent and was amused to find more than 700 seeders. Wow !! Thats some community!.

Initially I tried to install from hard disk by just copping the vmlinuz and initrd to a FAT32 partition, but it gave an error about some missing module for my DVD-Writer and the load failed, what the heck. I then logged in to the beautiful KDE of my existing SUSE 10.3 and used k3b to burn the iso. I know its an irony that I had to use SUSE to help me replace SUSE itself.
The Live CD booted into an equally impressive Gnome desktop. The default chocolate wallpaper is really beautiful. I think apart from Linux Mint, this is the only Gnome desktop I liked. My desktop is a fairly generic one and almost all Linux distributions always detect all the hardware, I just did a quick test that my sound card and internet connection are working and then clicked the install button. The install was straightforward and asked me minimal questions, a la PCLinuxOS install. I think that the default install of modern desktop OS should be like this and have an option for advanced install, unlike the SUSE install which asks too many questions and requires too much user intervention. One thing I missed while installing was the in ability to listen to songs from internet or view youtube videos, a feature which I really appreciated in Linux Mint. However, the install took only thirty minutes so it was OK.

On reboot, I was a little disappointed to find a text based GRUB, against my previous beautiful GUI GRUB of OpenSUSE 10.3. I know this is easy to add by using SUM, but would have been better to have it by default. That apart, the boot was fast and I reached the clean GDM menu. I really liked the fact that there was no clutter and no option for the user name, it was just very clean. I entered my username and password and logged in. It was nice to find that Ubuntu has set the correct resolution for my Monitor, configured my network using DHCP, configured teh sound card and even mounted my FAT32 partition. Now, I had read at many places that Ubuntu offers to search and install all the missing codecs and decided to give it a try :
  1. Video files. I have some video files in my FAT32 partition and I simply double clicked on one of them, the video player application ( Totem) opened and asked me if I want Ubuntu to search and install the required codecs. I said yes and in no time the codecs were downloaded and installe3d and Video was playing properly; impressive isn't it ? I then proceeded to try other video extensions like "avi", "mpg", ".dat" etc and all played without any problem.
  2. MP3. Looks like that in th process of installing codecs for video, the MP3 codecs were also installed and my MP3 played without any issue.
  3. Youtube. I tried to play a Youtube video in Firefox and it asked for flash, on selecting to install the Ubuntu installed got fired up and bravo I had the youtube Video playing. NOTE. I also got the option to install open source gnash, but choose the tried and tested Adobe flash player.
  4. Yet to try. I have not yet tested the java support and playing DVD videos. Will try tonight.
The best thing about these installations is that all I had to do was click a button and supply my password, no extra effort was required from my side.

I then checked what software got installed by default and found that Ubuntu had almost everything I need. It installs OpenOffice, Pidgin, Tracker Search, Tomboy Notes, Firefox, Gimp, Evolution etc by default. These are what I use most commonly. I also use many other software which are easy to install using Synaptic. I tried to install Kompozer the first, as it used to crash easily on SUSE. I must say that Ubuntu devs have done a great job and even after extensive use ( during which Kompozer would usually crash at least twice on SUSE) there are no issues. I will keep on testing this and report it back on this blog. The other software I intend to install are Katapult ( does it has a Gnome equivalent ?), Digikam, Flickr Uploader and possibly Google Earth.

Ubuntu have churned out a really impressive release, but the most impressive part of Ubuntu is the community. Sadly, everything is working out of box, so I have not yet got any chance to look into Ubuntu Forums :). I will however, log in and try to answer any queries that others are asking, I think this is the least I can do to thank Canonical for providing with such a good distribution.



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