Thoughts On Feisty

Well Ubuntu 7.04 has been out a few days now and I thought it was time I recorded some thoughts and opinions on it. I had a nightmare getting hold of the ISO on Thursday when it came out but that’s got nothing to do with Ubuntu, it was my ISP being an ass as usual. (See the earlier rant about Tiscali for details)

So… the Fawn, is it any good? Yes of course it’s good, did you really expect me to say anything else 😉 I’m a Linux fanboy at heart.

Step 1: The failed upgrade

I had some issues upgrading my previous installation of Edgy to Feisty as suggested on the Ubuntu site, it failed twice and I wasn’t happy. To be fair to Canonical I think it was more to do with my weird setup than their updater, I know other people who used it and it worked first time for them. I have a lot of unusual development packages on my system and that seemed to cause the problem. The main offending package appeared to be the Python Imaging Library, it caused the updater to error twice and then inform me that my upgrade had failed. I seem to remember compiling this package from source while doing some work on Django, maybe that had something to do with it I’m not sure.

Step 2: The Fresh Install

So, I was left with only one option, to boot from the Feisty CD and do a completely fresh install. I got a familiar error when booting the Live CD, after choosing to install Ubuntu from the menu, my screen went black and I got the following error:

KERNEL PANIC: apic sync error. Try booting with ‘noapic’ option.

I’ve seen this before, it happened with Edgy. It has something to do with my system architecture and I’ve found that just using the noapic option as suggested lets me boot the Live CD and install as normal. After the install the system boots normally and I never see the error again. It’s a strange problem but it doesn’t seem to cause any lasting effects… once you get round it and install 🙂

After that the installation went smoothly but I wasn’t prompted to install the restricted driver for my Nvidia video card as I expected. I thought Feisty was supposed to ask me during the install but it didn’t. After the install I enabled the restricted driver easily through the “System / Administration / Restricted Drivers Manager” (pictured), it was a simple tick box and worked first time. The next thing I needed to sort out was my NTFS read/write driver, another thing I thought Feisty might do for me but it didn’t. As it turned out it was easy to do with one apt-get command:

sudo apt-get install ntfs-config

After that I could go to “Applications / System Tools” on the menu and access the config tool (pictured below).

After a quick run of Automatix2 which is not popular in some corners of the Ubuntu community (I’m not getting into that), my Feisty system was ready to go.

Despite a few problems getting the system installed I’m very happy with my new OS. I can’t say I’ve noticed a massive amount of difference from Edgy but I’m sure things will be become apparent as I use it more. It’s still new. I keep my “/home” directory on a separate partition to the system root and it turned out to be a real bonus for me. When I formatted my root and reinstalled I left my home partition alone and found that all my desktop and application settings were preserved for me. This was great, I didn’t need to spend any time setting up my new system, it was already done. How cool is that?

(My Feisty desktop)

So what do I really think of Feisty Fawn? If I’m honest I’m a little disappointed but only because I expect so much from Ubuntu. They’ve set the bar really high, I was surprised that my video drivers and NTFS drivers weren’t automatically set up in the install. I expected a prompt saying “You have an Nvidia video card, do you want to use the restricted driver?” but instead I had to set that stuff up afterwards. Ok it was easy to do and didn’t take to long but I think they could still do a bit better. Make the restricted driver manager more prominent at least.

Overall, Feisty is a great OS and I would recommend that everyone try it. The problems I experienced were basically down to the quirks of my system and shouldn’t really reflect badly on the OS. I suppose I just expected to see more differences from Edgy but in the end perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. Its definitely as good as Edgy and there’s no better compliment I can give than that.

Feisty is definitely my OS of choice, at least until Gutsy Gibbon come out 😀

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