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.

Defcon Linux Beta Released

Introversion, the UK indie game developer of Darwinia and Uplink, just released the public beta of the Linux port of their global thermonuclear warfare sim, Defcon. The names come straight from Introversion’s forums here.

You can get the demo from links in this post.

I tried the demo on my Ubuntu 6.10 desktop. Runs without a hitch and below is the proof:

Defcon 1.4.2 Beta 2 menu screen:

…and chaos unleashed in the rolling demo:

Related Links: