Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Weddings, firestorms, my first impressions of Gutsy, and Manhattan Rats

Well my wedding is only 12 short days away. Things are getting pretty crazy but I've actually been able to find some relief in tinkering around with the Gibbon a bit (the latest version of Ubuntu is codenamed Gutsy Gibbon for all you n00beez out there). I heard time and again how much work a wedding is to plan when I got engaged, but I guess I thought that weddings are only as difficult as you make them. And while I still kind of believe that still, I now realize that almost every woman is going to make their wedding as difficult as they can possibly stand, which means that planning your wedding is going to be a lot of work.

I had actually been pretty far behind in my own responsibilities with the wedding (it didn't help that I was gone two weekends ago to Seattle for an International Baccalaureate training) when the fires struck Southern California. A lot of us were doubting whether we would be able to fly into San Diego from Seattle at all. Fortunately we all got home safe and I don't think anyone from our school was evacuated or hurt at all. The fact that school was canceled for the rest of the week didn't hurt as far as catching up on my wedding responsibilities either (or my Gutsy tinkering for that matter). I guess you have to try and look on the bright side of bad situations sometimes.

So my first impression of Gutsy was not as good as I might have hoped. I spent several hours on Ubuntu Day trying to upgrade my existing teacher station just to have it crap out on me at the end and revert back to Feisty. Then I downloaded the .iso file a couple of times only to have the discs be corrupted somehow. I was able to upgrade from feisty on my laptop, but at the end when it was supposed to remove the old programs it froze up and I had to restart. For a few days I was kind of suspicious of the whole thing and when I finally got back from Seattle I decided to just do a clean install which meant losing Windows XP MCE altogether.

The .iso I downloaded this third time worked fine, so now I'm Windowsless and loving every minute. I like the codec search and install feature like many others have mentioned (although I still can't watch nba.com videos for some reason, but yahoo videos look great!) and I also definitely spent a couple of hours tinkering with the Compiz settings last night so I could watch walls of fire burn up my closed applications and whatnot. Otherwise I really don't notice much that different about Gutsy from Feisty.

There are still a number of things that annoy me about the OS, like my mouse settings aren't adjustable and it takes me three swipes to move it completely across the screen. I also tried out that FOSS flash alternative and it bombed right off the bat. They shouldn't includ that as an option at all unless it's ready for primetime. I was able to successfully and completely upgrade my classroom computer this afternoon, but the built in monitor control wasn't able to access my attached projector and I had to configure it through the nVidia controls like I do every time either the computer or projector is turned off (really annoying). I will admit that I haven't tried Gutsy as a thin client server yet and they are supposed to have sped up some things on that front so I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Mostly I was just looking for the big leap I saw from Edgy to Feisty and was kind of disappointed not to see it right off the bat. Maybe I just wasn't as familiar with Ubuntu back then or I had higher expectations, but I think the situation was more akin to the rats in Manhattan. Allow me to explain:

About two years ago a poll was taken in NYC that asked citizens what their number one problem was with the city. The surprising top result: rats. There were varying speculatory lines of thought about why this might have happened. Were rats moving into new areas of the city? Where there more of them or where they just getting bigger and bolder? Why have rats suddenly become such a concern? The real answer was much simpler though: all of the previous top concerns had been addressed and thus moved lower on the list. Two years ago NYC was doing pretty well. Crime wasn't as big a problem anymore, the economy was doing well, police and firefighters were doing a good job and people were happy with both their Mayor and Governor. Thus the citizens had no greater concern in their lives at the time except the rats that had alwasy been there but now assumed the top spot among the city's problems.

Similarly Ubuntu has come a long, long way since I started using it back in the Dapper days. Most of the top concerns were addressed in the Edgy and Feisty releases with bulletproof X being the only major thing I can find taken care of with Gutsy. I never had a problem with Feisty and display resolutions or the like so I haven't noticed any change at all. Mostly I'm just busy complaining about small things that would have been silly to complain about just a year ago. Who cares if your mouse doesn't respond exactly how you like it when your wireless card doesn't even work? Who cares about rats when your car keeps getting stolen?

In any case, Gutsy strikes me as the next step in a natural progression of Ubuntu releases. That is, releases that solve a myriad of minor problems left unaddressed by the previous release, but that lack the revolutionary changes and improvements of the earlier versions. And while I'm happy to take what I can get, I'm not going to forget which wheel gets the grease. Steady Squeakin' -joe

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