Thursday, April 9, 2009

Finally; ubuntu problems!

This has been a WIP since years and years now. I install the latest version of Ubuntu two or three times a year mostly because I'm curious and partially because I'm a masochist. I generally want to get into using an open source OS and just be aware of how things work on the other side of the fence (being a Windows user and .NET developer). That's also why I chose Ubuntu; it's the entry-level linux distro.

Things usually work out this way; I install Ubuntu and there are issues. Wireless has never worked out-of-the-box. The graphics are 50-50. Sometimes they work and other times they don't. I've done the whole ndiswrapper thing and iwconfig and messed around on the command line more than any Windows user should ever have to feel comfortable with. Things never end up pretty and are generally unstable.

For instance, my last installation was Ubuntu 8.04. Wireless didn't work. Graphics were fine. I sacrificed the customary chicken and goat and eventually got the wireless to work. But then after I did a restart it stopped working again. Then it intermittently worked until finally it stopped working altogether. Completely random.

I tethered my laptop to the wired network and decided to updgrade Ubuntu to 8.10. After I did, the bootup had the funniest behavior. It would stop booting unless I pressed keys. Nothing in particular. Just pressing keys would make it advance. Once I booted into the desktop it said there were new drivers for the nVidia graphics card. I let the update take place (the drivers were recommended by Ubuntu). When I restarted, I couldn't get to the desktop anymore. One of the startup steps would fail and it would die. I'm not a linux ninja so it was as good as dead.

I burned down the now defunct Ubuntu 8.10 install. I downloaded and installed Kubuntu 8.10 out of sheer desperation. It too demonstrated the "press some goddam keys to boot" behavior so this wasn't an isolated incidence. Once I got to the desktop it didn't recognize I had wireless card at all and the graphics chip wasn't detected either. I was worse off than when I was just in Ubuntu 8.10. Fail.

That was last night. Today, I see that there's ubuntu 9.04 experimental. I installed it, it detected my wireless and it only took a minor spiritual channeling to get the graphics to work. Needless to say, I am happy that things just worked out-of-the-box. This blog post has come from my linux desktop. Joyous day!

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