Goodies for You Today!

Good morning! So I have two goodies (one of them is not really my work but I still want to share it with you) to give today.

First thing is the release of Ubuntu 7.10. And in extension also Kubuntu 7.10, which is what I use. As I mentioned before, this is another sweet release. So get yours while its still hot!

Ubuntu Release
Kubuntu Release

Second gift is this post. Thats right, this is post number 150! I wanted to do something special to celebrate this. But yes, I had nothing interesting to report. And this release, makes the post newsworthy. Yay!

Y’ all have a great day, yah hear?

Countdown to Ubuntu 7.10

To build up even more excitement to the release of Ubuntu 7.10, I am added this neat little countdown javascript app to the side of the blog.

Share and Enjoy!

Settling in with the Gutsy [BETA]

For past few days I have been beta testing Kubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon. Overall, I have this beta release running on my main production system without too much breakage. By the time the real release occurs, most users will be grateful for a stable, reliable and increasingly user friendly release of Kubuntu.

Update Nightmares
Having lived through a year of Gentoo Linux and its weekly blending edge releases and updates, I feel comfortable helping out with the beta testing of the new Kubuntu. That said, beta testing is only for those that don’t get irritated at breakage. And open source software (Apologies to RMS, free software is like free speech and free markets, but open source has a nicer ring to it.) brings its own kind of beta breakage, since development happens at a much faster pace with the entire community collaborating on the same code. So the breakage and updates come fast and furious. My every computing day starts with an update. And sometimes fixing a crashed upgrade with dpkg.

The battle for Strigi continues everyday. After discovering the usefulness of desktop searching with Google Desktop, I want Strigi to work badly. However after submiting bug reports, installing updates and following a particularly cryptic lead involving pdftotext, nothing seems to work. Actually strigi is more responsive, and takes longer to eat up my processing power, in the end the daemon acts like one and possesses my processor. Only killing it, solves the problem.

Rocking with Amarok
First I used Winamp, and then I discovered Linux and XMMS. And while a soft spot for the ancient XMMS, rests in my heart, my current music player of choice is Amarok. Amarok with its iTunes layout, media library management and plugins beat the pants off all its competitors in both the open and closed source worlds. My favorite features include the seamless music player device management, the lyrics plugin, the podcast aggregator and the soundKonvertor plugin for changing my Ogg collection to MP3s that my MP3 player can handle.

The new version 1.4.7 of Amarok makes the smoothest player out there. Gone is the irritating stealing of keyboard bug that locked up my desktop. The moodbar feature now works out of the box in Ubuntu. Moodbar maps out the dynamics of the song in colours, and displays that info inside the song progress bar.

Gutsy Artwork
The Gutsy art team has added new artwork in this release. This includes a nice neutral aqua wallpaper. KDM login manager now includes a nice new theme that includes the standard user list that an unmodified KDM sports. While I personally have not gotten the theme to work (see bug), this new artwork makes Kubuntu more usable. Whoever said art is not functional, was a fool.

An Upgrade
OpenOffice version 2.3 is one of the much touted features in Kubuntu and Ubuntu. A new release of OpenOffice does not excite me much anymore. However it is an essential piece of software that I use everyday. Its nice to know that large commercial entites such as Sun Microsystems and IBM, continue to develop, improve and contribute to the entire free open source community. Its got some nice features and all the developers involved with the OpenOffice suite should be warmly applauded of their efforts.

More info on the new features in OpenOffice 2.3.

Progress in Remote Control
One of the few pieces of hardware that can work under Linux, but refuses to work under Ubuntu is my remote control. The issue was that the older version of Ubuntu were missing the kernel modules for Lirc, and hence the ability to use remotes. In Gutsy, the kernel modules are included. And with a bit of configuration, and restarting the Lirc daemon, I can get my remote to work. But the entire process is still a bit hit and miss.

The new release of Ubuntu and hence Kubuntu is working up to be a more user friendly release than Feisty. Most of the must have features are in the Ubuntu variant rather than Kubuntu itself. I believe that the uncertainty and development of KDE4 contributes to this lack of major features for the KDE side of Ubuntu. Also many of the bugs and issues I have dealt with, will disappear by the time the final release of Gutsy. The progress on even the irritating Strigi bugs promises to fix this showstopper bug. So keep your fingers crossed. This next release of Kubuntu maybe the most user friendly release yet.

Slight Delay in Review

I regret to inform you, that the second part of the review of the Kubuntu 7.10 “Gutsy Gibbon” beta release will be delayed until Monday. I had a great deal of work today, and I will away tomorrow.

I started writing up the review. But I need some more time to thoroughly look at the new Amarok 1.4.7, and 2.3. Also I have not started to play around with the remote control. Finally, I need to polish the article. Heck, I’m a perfectionist.

So again, I am very sorry for the delay. I will post the article Monday evening.

Initial Impressions of Kubuntu 7.10 Gutsy [BETA]

Yesterday, I updated my main desktop system to Kubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon.
This release adds a number of exciting and useful features to Kubuntu. While not a revolutionary feature set, this new release promises to evolve Linux as a desktop OS. So, for the next few days I plan on experimenting and reviewing this new release of Kubuntu.

Before, you run off and grab the beta release, I have to warn you. Unless you don’t mind things breaking and you fixing them, DON’T use the beta release. The full release is coming out in a few days, so just wait until all the bugs are fixed.

Upgrade or Bust
I started the upgrade process by following the guide on the site. Unfortunately, the updater died as soon as it started installing packages. I recovered with a dpkg -a –configure, in the command line. Repeating the upgrade led to another updater crash. But after another recovery and some deleting of packages, I had a working system.

The upgrade process was not exactly, new user friendly. But its not something that should scare a long time Linux user familiar with the command line. Having run different Linux distros for six years, I did not have too much of a problem. Also a known bug in the hotkeys-setup script, prevented me from fully installing the official kubuntu desktop. Hopefully, both problems will get fixed soon.

As it stands, the upgrade process needs work. A clean install would of been better. But one of the nice features of Ubuntu, is upgrading without nuking your current running install.

File Management with Dolphin
One of the first things I did after upgrading, was to check my home folder. The new release used Dolphin instead of Konqueror for file management. Dolphin, the default file manager for KDE4, is one sweet program. Dolphin does file management in a simple, and clear manner. This is very much in the spirit of UNIX: a tool should do one thing, and do it well. It doesn’t try to be everything as Konqueror did. In fact, if you have to move, and sort tons of files as I do, you will want to upgrade just have this tool on by default.

Restricted Drivers Manager
The restricted drivers manager is another nice feature, that the Ubuntu devs added in the previous release of Ubuntu. Unfortunately, Kubuntu was missing a KDE frontend for this tool in Feisty Fawn 7.04. With this release, the tool works in KDE. Having this manager working in Kubuntu makes the KDE side of Ubuntu, as attractive as its GNOME cousin.

Since my nVidia drivers already work, the manager just informed me that the drivers were in use. Its nice this know. Also it helps to get the message across: free open source Linux needs free and open sourced drivers. Maybe in the future all hardware manufactures will offer free open source drivers.

Desktop Searching with Strigi
In earlier posts, I wrote about my search to replace Google Desktop search with a FOSS replacement. One of my early and most promising experiments was with Strigi. Its a nice program when it works… but this version of Strigi suffers from a bug. It basically eats up 100% CPU and refuses to actually do any work indexing. The result in my case, is that Strigi daemon borrows one of my CPU cores and takes it for an infinite spin. Good thing I have a free core to run the rest of my system. Killing the daemon every startup gets a bit irritating.

While I appreciate my CPU power being put to good use… Strigi… this is just absurd. I would prefer to run folding@home instead. Also since my version of Strigi does not want to do further indexing, its also not finding the results that I expect.

Impressions of Day One:
At least my system works without a hitch. The upgrade process was not pleasant, but at least everything works. Dolphin captured my heart, and is the best reason for the upgrade. The restricted device manager is also nice. And the utility will definitely help getting restricted, closed source drivers working on a system. Strigi is promising, but needs fixing. Badly.

To Be Continued…
Tomorrow, I will look at the new Amarok, and artwork. And I will check if my remote control works out of the box, this time.