Trying out Ubuntu 6.10 Desktop

Around the time Ubuntu Linux had reached the early betas for release 6, people seemed all up in rave about it, so I thought I should give it a try. I left a 5GB partition on my laptop and tried to get it up and running. Long story short: A total failure, and 5GB wasted idle space on my laptop.

What happened back then was that automatic hardware detection failed miserably on my ATI adapter, and no amount of tweaking, despite finding certain workarounds that had worked for others on the net would get me a working Xorg or GUI for you people not really into *nix.

There's been some time since the betas and since I had a spare machine to fool around with (where Windows crashed consistently), I decided to give it another go. Current release is Ubuntu 6.10 and that's what I decided to try out.

This was a much shorter story. Took me about 30 minutes to download the ISO and I was about 50% already.

The install

After burning the ISO to a CD and booting it up, it wasn't as much a installation CD as it was a working Live-CD with a included installer. Even managed to get up and running on my ATI adapter with hardware acceleration. Wow. Not that this is impressive in itself, but ATI has a rather shoddy record when it comes to Linux support, so the Linux community has evidently done some radical work since the last time i tried to get things working.

After this I just double-clicked the installer on the desktop, went trough a 6 step wizard, where you can pretty much ignore most settings apart from localisation and keyboard-settings. Also I prefer to setup my partiotions manually, but that's no requirement. Hold another 30 minutes, and I had a working desktop.

No mess, no drivers, all needed software installed. And it was actually fast and responsive! God bless proper hardware detection and no need for drivers. This was pretty easy.

A funky desktop

Now for what I really wanted to try out: AIGLX and composited desktop engines. I decided to try out Beryl. For those of you who don't know Beryl, it's a 3d-driven window manager for Xorg. Basicly it makes the Linux desktop behave in a OSX-like way.

Youtube has a simple and tacky demo. While this demo doesn't really look that good, it does give you an idea of what it's about and what it does.

Getting Beryl running in Ubuntu was a breeze. Following this simple HOWTO, it was done in no time. I added 1 repository, copy and pasted less than 10 lines to xorg.conf, restarted X, added 1 package and that was more or less it.

Beryl looked pretty smooth. The wobbly windows, the way windows could be configured to squeeze into each other for snapping. The rotating cube expansion module for virtual desktops... All in all it was pretty nice.

A few issues

Beryl seemed to work fine on my setup, but some checking in the logs, showed that it were having a few issues with my drivers. Sometimes this resulted in the machine freezing up 100% requiring a hard reset. Not good. Upgrading to the official ATI closed-source drivers might have fixed it, but in the end I decided to go with the plain ordinary Metacity window-manager, seeing as things were working remarkably smooth for this little work.

I had another few issues here and there in total, but nothing that required a guru to figure out. I may still be a Microsoft-whore, but the current state of Linux does impress me. Especially considering all the troubles I had just 6 months ago.

While I'll swear to Windows until the .NET Framework gets a full OSS implementation (including Visual Studio), something I honestly doubt will happen anytime soon, I can see why some people ditch Windows for this. Not too shabby at all.



siden jeg er lat poster jeg dette her.

Momofuku Ando, mannen som oppfant instant noodles er død. Nudler er visst sunt, for han ble 96 år.


nice to see you got aiglx/beryl working since it's been a pain with ATI... however.. congrats! ;-)

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