Friday, April 27, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Don't forget to adjust those privacy settings:

"When you begin using Ubuntu 12.04, it starts recording many of your activities. Such as the websites you visit, and the files you use."

There's no 'hibernate' option in XFCE.  Some discussion of this here.  I tried to proceed as described but got errors when I tried to start xfce-power-manager.  pm-hibernate does work.

I was able to get hibernate restored to the 'Action Buttons' by following these instructions.  Power manager still broken, though.

Actually, if you use 'Session menu' instead of 'Action Buttons', it gives you 'Lock Screen', 'Suspend', 'Hibernate', 'Reboot', 'Shut Down' and 'Log out'.  This is the panel item that appears as your userid.

Looks like XFCE has no 'Clean up by Name' to keep your desktop icons neatly arranged... that's a bummer...

I wanted to try some things outside of the VMware environment so I installed Xubuntu to a USB drive and booted it up on my laptop. 

VMware Player 4.02 on Xubuntu 12.04 works with this patch.  (Previously I wrote here that this didn't work but that turned out to be my error, sort of.  At  the download page you might expect the most recent version would be at the top of the list, but instead they have v. 4.0.0 at the top and you have to scroll down to get to 4.0.2.  Anyway, once I figured this out and downloaded the right version, everything worked).

I attempted to install updates, started getting errors about /scripts/casper-functions as it attempts to do the kernel updates.  Casper is part of the infrastructure it uses to boot from a USB drive.  Possibly the answer is just 'don't try to do kernel updates when booting from a USB drive', but I've done this many times in Ubuntu 10.04 without problem.  I googled for this and found a couple of messages saying removing a package called 'canonical-census' would fix this, but it's not installed.  The various versions of Ubuntu I installed in VMware Player didn't have this problem.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 beta

Ubuntu 12.04 comes out tomorrow, weighing the alternatives...

Lubuntu (LXDE): Eccentric selection of packages.  Chromium instead of Firefox, Abiword instead of OpenOffice/LibreOffice.  Of course, they all share the same Ubuntu repositories and you can install whatever you want.

No weather applet.

Xubuntu (XFCE): Can't right click on an application in the menu to create a launcher on the desktop.  (Update: Right click on the background, select 'Create Launcher'.  This 'Create Launcher' dialog is smarter than the one I'm used to.  Enter a partial application name, choose match from the menu and it populates all the fields).

Nice weather applet.

Kubuntu: (KDE): I'm not a big KDE fan but in the interest of fairness I thought I'd give this a try.

I'm testing all of these as VMs in VMware Player 4.  So, it could be some artifact of VMware, but when I installed Kubuntu, the screen was black the whole time.  Yet, it did finally install successfully, but I had no feedback of any kind until it finished the install and rebooted.

KDE has a slick appearance, yet it takes way too long to navigate around in it.  It feels like they're trying to make it easy for beginners?

I wasn't able to install updates.  Error says 'Another application seems to be using the package system at this time.  You must close all other package managers before you will be able to install or remove any packages.'  I don't have any other package managers open.  I reinstalled and tried this immediately after booting from a fresh install and still got this error.

Ubuntu: (Gnome3/Unity): Ubuntu has been disappointing since 10.10 and especially since the advent of Unity in 11.04, but thought I'd give it another try.  Still huge problems. 

I can't move the launcher.  Still can't move things around within the launcher.  This is particularly irksome with the workspace switcher.  This is a frequently used item.  It's not convenient to have to scroll around in the launcher to find it way at the bottom 100 times a day.

Software Center is a real turkey.  Install packages one at a time, really?  Seems like they are just trying to imitate iTunes or Android Market.

Problems resizing windows.  When I mouse over over the corners or edges, the cursor changes, but when I left-click to grab the corner/edge, it doesn't work.

This summarizes many of the flaws of Unity.  Weirdly some people seem perfectly OK with this interface.  I'm not one of them.

All the Ubuntu distros support MySQL 5.5.

I also checked out some non-Ubuntu alternatives:

Mageia 1 (Gnome): "Mageia is a fork of Mandriva Linux formed in September 2010 by former employees and contributors to the popular French Linux distribution."  Sounds cool, but I couldn't get this to install.

Mandriva One 2011: (KDE) Mandrake/Mandriva was my favorite distro for many years.  Mandriva 2007 Spring was a masterpiece.  But after that they were jumping the shark.  By 2009 I was switching my last computer to Ubuntu.

Some needless drama when I went to install updates.  I get an error like 'The following packages need to be removed for others to be upgraded', with a list of what looks like hundreds of packages.  I click on 'Yes', and it says 'Sorry, the following packages cannot be selected' with another list of hundreds of packages, detailing their conflicts with other packages.  But after all this, it seems to come up with the list of packages it can install and gets on with it.

I installed the updates and rebooted.  Desktop comes up but things don't work.  The 'main menu' button does nothing.  I click on the button next to that and it says 'Unable to run the command specified.  The file or folder file:///usr/share/applications/kde4/dolphin.desktop does not exist'.

Mint 12: (Gnome): This is #1 on Distrowatch lately and seems a popular choice for people leaving Ubuntu.

I guess this is the dreaded Gnome 3.  Looks like Gnome but lots of unfamiliar behavior.  Right click on the panels does nothing.

I wanted to try Mate (Gnome 2 fork).  Look for a package installer, bring up GDebi, it seems to just hang.  But good old Synaptic is there and works fine.  Mate is already installed.

OK, I log out, select Mate from the menu and log back in.  Now I can resize the panel and such.  There is a completely different menu. By default you get a special customized Mate menu but it can easily be replaced with the standard main menu.

I bring up Synaptic.  Cool, 56,000 packages.  Ubuntu merely has 38,000.

Can't find a weather applet for Mate :(

I like this look and feel.  It's vaguely olwm-ish.  Nice font, too.

Supports MySQL 5.1.

I also took a quick look at Mint Debian 201204.  This just came out on 4/24, 2 days before the Ubuntu release.  Looks really cool.  People are raving about it.  I like the idea of getting away from the Ubuntu repos and reverting back to Debian.  But, still, MySQL version supported is 5.1, and MySQL Workbench isn't even in the repos.

Viable choices are Mint, Xubuntu and Lubuntu.

Sticking with Ubuntu would be the comfortable and easy choice, but I'm extremely leery of the direction Ubuntu is going and the fact that they are still sticking with Unity after all the negative feedback and the sharp decline in popularity that Ubuntu has suffered since 11.04.  Shuttleworth needs some time to be by himself for a while.

Mint, on the other hand, seems to be trying to give the user lots of choices.  There's yet another tool to ease the pain of Gnome 3 called Cinnamon.  I tried this briefly and prefer Mate, but it shows the Mint developers' hearts are in the right place.

One disappointment though for Mint is MySQL at version 5.1.  MySQL 5.5 has some important performance improvements and was released in December, 2010.  I'm hesitating a bit over this.