Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

5Oct/04Off

Fixing, Breaking, Testing, And Not Much Sleeping

I've finally successfully upgraded from the 0.8 version of Firefox to the 1.0 pre-release version. Why did it take me so long despite security problems and lots of feature carrot and stick motivators between versions? Because I'm an idiot. It's all the fault of a plugin and none of the actual application. I blame MySpace for making me so damned dependent on a browser plugin. That also reminds me to mention that Midcentury now has a MySpace page so rub elbows and hit on us if you're so inclined.

I also moved the laptop onto Ubuntu Linux while writing a paper the other night. If the number of recent reviews of this distribution is any litmus installing Ubuntu might be the next great American pastime. Without doubt it is a very straightforward and very quick installation although some of the defaults, for me, fell a bit short of sane. Video resolution was disastrous leaving me stranded near 800x600.This is no problem for me because I just waved the magic wand of dpkg-reconfigure (xserver-xfree86 if you're drifting in here from Google in hopes of a solution) and manually reconfigured X. The tool included with the Gnome DE didn't list any other options but the ones assigned by the installer. This is probably a matter of preference/bias since being dumped into Gnome by default feels a little like having your thumbs trimmed off to insure your safety. Like I said, this is no problem for me to enable the root account (sudo passwd ) and then reconfigure X but I wonder about the end user-ish type that this distribution is intended for... The only other real trouble that I had was setting up PPPoE network access (I may also have overlooked it since I relied on apt-cache to tell me if the package rp-pppoe was available) since the client isn't included in the defaults and gcc which I needed to compile the source tarball is also left out of the default install.

All of that said, I am probably the worst person imaginable to attempt to fairly evaluate this distribution because I've spent a fair amount of time working with Debian in the past and I absolutely loathe Gnome though I really love many of the applications that are typically packaged with it. For a pre-release, this is really great stuff and, despite some very marginal issues that I had, is damned near ready for primetime. Out of the two problems that I had I think the misconfiguration of X is probably the closest to being a deal breaker. There has got to be something a bit more powerful/flexible that could be used for reconfiguring bad defaults or the addition of optional configuration the first time around. Automagic is only magic when it works correctly and on a freakishly underpowered laptop there has to be some compromise of prettiness, performance, and choosing the resolution that doesn't make you feel like you're computing on Speak and Spell. I think I'm actually going to keep it installed for a little while longer to see how smoothly a week or two worth of updates from the Ubuntu repositories goes. I'm very impressed and really curious how future development is going to turn out.