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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ubuntu Intrepid Beta

I just upgraded my laptop from Ubuntu 8.04 to Ubuntu 8.10, and I have to say it was - by far - the easiest OS upgrade I have ever done in my life. I had been waiting for the new fglrx driver for my video card, as I use compiz heavily on this notebook for application switching... but now that it's here, I just gave the command to upgrade "update-manager -d" and off it went.

Going from 7.04 to 7.10 and then to 8.04 gave me all sorts of weird, but entertaining problems - wireless died, or the monitor changed resolutions or whatever. This time - Nothing! I didn't even see the usual set of weird errors (such as incompatible fonts and locale settings) in the upgrade terminal.

It asked a few relevant questions - kde vs gnome (gnome), if I want to install the proprietary fwcutter for my wireless card (yes) and a password for mysql-5, which it later uninstalled (strange...). And off it went.

It took about an hour and a half, of which most of it was entirely unsupervised. (A couple config file changes were offered for my approval, where I had changed system settings.) Otherwise, it took care of all those things I would normally do, such as uninstalling old kernel versions and clearing out unused packages. All in all, a very pleasant experience. (I even had my IM programs running throughout the process, and continued talking with people throughout.)

On reboot, I instantly noticed a speedup to the boot - there were fewer pauses, and the process seemed somewhat quicker because of it.

Once back into Gnome, you'll notice not much has changed - nothing broke during the install! That's a nice change.

When things do change unexpectedly, menus pop up to warn you. (eg. converting my exit Ubuntu icon to a user switcher/msn status combined icon.) Information was offered right away with the lightbulb icon, and the option to retain the old icon was provided as well. Very considerate of a new OS to give you a choice!

Finally, one of the things I though would break would be my previous hack to get the screen brightness keys working, which I deliberately overwrite during the upgrade. Instead, the screen brightness buttons now work even better than before. Where my previous solution had given uneven increments of brightness, which were hard to adjust, it now actually goes from light to dark in pretty even steps. Very nice!

All this in the first 5 minutes after the install... Anyhow, now it's time to get back to work and actually enjoy Ubuntu 8.10!



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