First 7 days with Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx

After it’s release last April 29, Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx has been enjoying massive downloads from eager users both established, and the curious new ones. This is a summary of my first 7 days with this latest release and how it has been doing (or how I am faring ? ) so far.

I have been keeping tabs on development regarding Lucid Lynx and I have been very eager to get my hands on it the moment it comes out. Although a lot of eager beavers have been grabbing the earlier Alpha and Release Candidates, I prefer to just keep in the sidelines and observe, knowing from an experienced Ubuntu user’s standpoint that these versions are definitely riddled with bugs and are pretty much incomplete. With that thought, I am pretty sure that some hardliners will think that I am not helping much, however, I prefer to drill the OS on a production setting and using it regularly in my day to day business, than just using it for the hell of it or just to peek at what nifty new features it sports. Sure, eager beavers help a lot by using the product early, and providing critical feedback on what’s working and what’s not. And those comments definitely will go a long way in making the final release a topnotch one and I commend eager beavers for that. But I don’t have the time for mere testing. My mantra is bring the final product into rigid use in a production setting to really see what it can do. And so I did … for 7 days.

The Previous Setup

The current machine I’m using is a Lenovo B450 with Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T6570 2.10GHz and 2.0Gb RAM, nVidia GeForce G105M with separate 256Mb video memory. This machine was previously running Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope as the main operating system, and dual boots to Windows XP SP3 on another partition. It also runs Sun’s (now Oracle) VirtualBox virtualization environment and runs Windows 7 and OpenSolaris as virtual machines. The virtual machines were actually not important since I only use them when I do testing of applications, tools and other stuff so they are pretty much expendable.

The Preparation

A lot of people ask me about my preferred way of doing an upgrade. And I keep on saying that I prefer to do a fresh install, compared to doing a dist-upgrade. There are actually a lot of stuff that could go horribly wrong during a dist-upgrade, not to mention the remaining files and libraries that will be left out after an upgrade. Not only is it messy, but the clean up will be ugly as well. Good thing that we have the Computer Janitor now in Ubuntu, for those pesky OS cleanups that we need to do during times like this.

So yeah, to answer the question again, here are my pros and cons of doing a fresh install instead of an online dist-upgrade.

    Pros

  • a clean slate to work with
  • rework your partitions
  • rework your settings and configurations
  • no extra file and library clutter
  • up and running in a few minutes
  • as long as the ISO is good, no corruption will arise during installation
    Cons

  • restoration from backups definitely needed for important files
  • need to reinstall all needed applications

I do not really mind reinstalling and restoring files from backups. For applications, I prefer reinstalling them since I will definitely be sure that I am getting new application versions that were tested to work under the new Ubuntu version. And for me the extra trouble is worth it.

So yes, I did backup my important documents, and bookmarks. I use Dropbox extensively as well, and I have lots of files that were synchronized with it so I did not have to include those files in my backup. Those files were already safely tucked away in Dropbox’s remote file servers. I’ll just install the Dropbox client later and re-sync, and I’ll have those files back good as new. As for the virtual machines, good riddance. I’ll just build new ones later as the need arises.

After backing up stuff, I then downloaded the ISO for the 64bit version of Lucid Lynx. Why not 32bit? I want to take advantage of the Core2Duo processor. I prefer to fully utilize its capabilities and not sulk on 32bit. I’m sure I made a good, logical decision. Oh, and it’s April 30. I decided to download a day after the official release. And you know what? It worked to my advantage as well because the Ubuntu people decided to respin the ISOs because of bugs found in the early ISO release, as well as some bugs related to Xorg. So there, I’m glad I did.

The Installation, First Boot. First Day.

The download was quirky and I had to redo it several times with different mirrors. I finally settled using a Japan mirror. The previous download was corrupted I’m not sure why. Probably due to my connection bitching up as well (shame on you Globe!) . Anyhow, I got the ISO after 3 hours and burnt it to a blank CD. It’s May 1 – Labor Day, and the first day I’m trying out Lucid Lynx. I’m also expecting that I’m going to be laboring a lot just to make this thing work. But guess what? I was wrong. It was dead easy to say the least.

The install process was seamless. I was greeted with a spiffy new splash screen and a fresh new install wizard. And I kept on saying “Neat!” each and everytime. As each wizard dialog passes by, my eagerness to work on Lucid keeps rising and rising, like Mount Kilauea building up momentum for that proverbial lava flow.

I customized my partitions. Somehow with Jaunty I forgot to put /home into a separate partition – silly me. And now with a fresh install, I have the chance to correct that. So I did. With /home in its own partition, I’m in for the home stretch. No need to mess up with XP since it’s on its own partition as well. Lucid’s install wizard detected it, and kept it at bay. The wizard even detected Lenovo’s rescue partition which I decided to keep for the hell of it. It’s just 1GB so no worries. Then with everything nicely wrapped up, I finished the install. And now the boot up.

After wrapping the install, I initiated the reboot. Well, it’s mandatory anyways (as if you don’t know). I took out the install disc and let the machine reboot. And what do you know! Less than 5 seconds, I got the login screen. I went “Wha— ?!” I did not login. I just got to see it one more time. I restarted again. Timed it. From BIOS initialization to login screen in 3.7 seconds. And I went crazy. This is crazy! I was so used to Jaunty crawling along during boot, spewing all those messages like NIC, daemons, and what not. And now this!? Sometimes I think all this is herecy – something that goes perfectly against the established kernel conduct. System boots, system reports, system shows login screen. But no. BIOS screen, then login screen. Crazy.

Second Day until 7th Day. Applications, and work.

The following days after the first boot was like rediscovering Ubuntu all over again. It has been a journey since the Warthog days. The flow of improvements on Ubuntu as a distribution has been like the tides – every time the tide withdraws, it showcases pleasant and not-so-pleasant surprises. Contrary to other early Lucid users, I got the pleasant surprises. Not only did I have a stable machine working on top of, but I got new tools to explore as well. Gwibber, Ubuntu One, Ubuntu Software Center just to name a few.

Sure, these are non-showstoppers for hardcores. But for casual users and new users, these are welcome additions and definitely a step in the right direction as far as usability is concerned.

On the home front, I found my wireless working properly. My apologies to hardcore free software proponents, but I prefer to use the restricted nVidia driver. It’s my choice, so there. No problems in terms of hardware so far.

On the software front, I had to reinstall my favorite apps most notably GIMP, which was not included out of the box. It’s not a big deal for me since it’s just a click away on the Ubuntu Software Center. Well, I could have used aptitude if I wanted to but I wanna try the software center – just for kicks. For work, I downloaded Skype, Dropbox, Thunderbird, Chrome, xCHM, FileZilla, TeamViewer, LifeRea, Wireshark, and Bluefish. All these apps work perfectly.

One vital puzzle left was the custom application that we use to keep track of our tasks, priorities and the time we spent on our priorities. In essence, it’s a time management application. And it is this application that was definitely left out when I decided to install 64bit instead of 32bit. The application will not install on 64bit! Drats!

But it’s not a loss. I can still override and force the application to install on 64bit. All I did was invoke the installation using

sudo dpkg -i –force-architecture time-management-app.deb

For the 32bit libraries that it required, I installed them using getlibs using

sudo getlibs -i time-management-app.deb

I then tried to run the application and voila! It worked. The final piece of the puzzle is in place. My work environment in Ubuntu Lucid Lynx is complete. So far, I have not encountered any major problem. No graphics mishaps. No missing icons. No corruption and missing files. Everything’s been working as they should.

I have been using it for work for the past 7 days doing administration of remote machines running other distros, creating documents and reports, updating my blog, updating my twitter statuses, checking email, chatting in Skype, pulling files from Dropbox, backing up and restoring databases and websites, all in 7 days and so far Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx has yet to fail me. It has proven to me that Lucid is quite a solid release so far and over here, I am one happy camper.

So tell me, what were your experiences so far? I’m sure we’re not having the same rosy experiences with Lucid Lynx, but I still want to know how you’re getting along with Lucid Lynx. Let me know.

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