Next Change: Ubuntu 12.04


UPDATE 3: You can download the Ubuntu 12.04 Manual from here

UPDATE 2: 9th May 2012 – Thanks to the Ubuntu community, I managed to fix the postgresql 8.2 error using command “sudo touch /usr/share/postgresql/8.2/tsearch_data” and removed the postgresql without any errors. Then I started to upgrade again (not using the Update Manager which still showed errors but using Terminal command) and this time, upgrade was rather smooth (perhaps thanks to the stable internet connection). The upgrade to 12.04 LTS was finally done after almost two hours. The review of the 12.04 will be done later if I have time.

UPDATE 1: 27th April 2012 – the upgrade from 11.10 to 12.04 LTS had hiccups when the upgrade package download connection was disconnected half way (due to my internet connection) – the same did not happen when I upgraded from 11.04 to 11.10. When I retried the upgrade, the update failed to work. After a few tinkering, I found the source of the problem – postgresql 8.2 was corrupted and need to be removed. Easier said than done, the removal failed as follows:-

Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
libmagick++3 amsn-data libemeraldengine0 perlmagick inkscape tcl-tls
Use ‘apt-get autoremove’ to remove them.
The following packages will be REMOVED:
postgresql-8.2*
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 1 to remove and 660 not upgraded.
After this operation, 12.4 MB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? Y
(Reading database … 269406 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing postgresql-8.2 …
find: `/usr/share/postgresql/8.2/tsearch_data’: No such file or directory
dpkg: error processing postgresql-8.2 (–purge):
subprocess installed pre-removal script returned error exit status 1
update-rc.d: warning: postgresql-8.2 stop runlevel arguments (0 1 6) do not match LSB Default-Stop values (S 0 1 6)
Errors were encountered while processing:

Back to the original post

Read these first:-

(The next generation of Ubuntu with a more sophisticated dashboard – a far cry from the dull, simple version 6.10 that I installed back in 2006. Image source: http://www.webupd8.org)

Mark the launch date – 26th April 2012. This is the date when Ubuntu will be releasing their latest OS – version 12.04 codenamed “Precise Pangolin”. I have been using Ubuntu 11.04 for sometime now (suppose to upgrade to 11.10 a long time go but my OS update was screwed due to a silly mistake of mine – somehow I have “un-ticked” the upgrade source server).

And of the things that I am looking forward to in 12.04 is the possible inclusion of HUD. OMG!Ubuntu reports “HUD – Heads UP Display – uses an intelligent search-based approach to finding and accessing menu items you need. It’s smart too; HUD is capable of remembering what items you use most often and prioritizing them in the results. The goal is to make finding menu items faster, in turn speeding up your workflow”.

(HUD in action hopefully in the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 and never misjudge the ease of using keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys instead of using the usual mouse clicks. As I have experienced, it can very, very fast and very convenient)

In addition this, Tech Drive-In further reports about “10 New Features Added to Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin” which includes the following changes:-

  • Unity Dash’s default home screen has changed. Now, it shows ‘Recent Apps’ first, ‘Recent Files’ next and lastly, your most recent Downloads.
  • Home menu quicklist is a really useful addition
  • Apart from the usual three Unity lenses (Applications, Files and Music), there is now an additional Video lense too. It lets you select and play videos from a variety of sources ranging from your local collection to YouTube Movies, BBC iPlayer and TED Talks to name a few.
  • HUD is now an integral part of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. HUD have not yet replaced menus in applications though. So no need to panic.
  • Size of launcher icons can now be changed directly changed from ‘Wallpapers’ menu. No need to install CCSM just to do that anymore. As you can also see, there is now an option to change the default Ubuntu 12.04 theme from the same window. Useful additions and nicely done too.
  • This is perhaps the biggest visible change to new Unity. Launcher won’t be in the ‘dodge windows‘ state anymore (by default) and instead will be ‘always visible’. Dodge windows is not even an option anymore. It is completely removed.
  • Initiating Alt + Tab shows you just the open windows in the current desktop and not from all the desktops like it used to be
  • The decision was taken during the last Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS). Rhythmbox has just replaced Banshee in Ubuntu 12.04. Note taking application, Tomboy, has also been removed. Canonical seems serious about completely removing Mono from Ubuntu.

Those who have not used Linux before, the new release of Ubuntu may be uneventful. But installing free, open source Ubuntu as my secondary OS (having Ubuntu and Windows in dual boot) was probably one of the smartest I did when I upgraded to a 64 bit machine a couple years ago (I was curious and wanted to brush up on Linux as well).

This is because when I was abroad for an assignment last year and when my Windows crashed unexpectedly (due to a registry screw up – what else?), all I needed to do was to fire up my Ubuntu and was still able to connect to the Internet to check my emails using Firefox,  chat with my colleagues using Pidgin & Skype, open documents & spreadsheets using the free Libre Office and use OpenProj for project management, etc – well you get my drift. What I am trying to say here is that with Windows crashing down (and the only way to fix the crashed Windows was to reinstall Windows all over again – duh), it did not mean the end of story for me.

Linux are not like those days when you have to run most of the apps using line command in Terminals (you still do sometimes but it is not difficult once you get hold of the usual convention) and where a simple update of packages was a nightmare. But now, thanks to user friendly GUIs, software center with well-stocked apps and well organized update manager, it is in par and in some cases superior to Windows 7. You also don’t have to worry about firewalls and anti-virus in Ubuntu and best part is, it is also free and can run along with your Windows without much fuss.

I have moved from 10.10 to 11.04 (which introduced Unity user interface which combines search and dock functions in one) and finally to 11.10 (which refreshed the login screen with LightDM and tweaked the Unity to be more streamline. It felt lighter too), I can’t wait to move to 12.04 next week.

Playing Linux Again


I think I am falling in “love” again…

(It is reputed that 2% of the computers in the world runs on Ubuntu – a free and open source OS that stands on it’s own against Windows based OS and 90% of the supercomputers in the world runs on Linux. Image source: http://masoncloud.com)

Couple of months ago, my old but robust 32 bit DELL Vostro 1200 laptop got replaced by a faster, more updated 64 bit DELL Vostro 3500 laptop. I had no other choice; the old laptop was not powerful enough to run Oracle databases (which was needed in some part of my work) – it was slow and running out of disc space too. So, I managed to get a more powerful laptop but there was a catch to the whole deal. The OS that came with the new laptop was a 32 bit Windows XP. On the onset, it akin to a Ferrari attached with Kancil tires – right there with the right hardware but not with the right software.

Running a 32 bit Windows XP on a 64 bit machine posed some problems – drivers for some of the laptop component was hard to get and even if we got the right drivers, it was not working all the time (Wi-fi can be detected but cannot be connected and I still have words “missing” from the screen).

The 4GB RAM that came with the laptop was only recognised up to 3GB by the 32 bit XP (thus wasting 1GB of RAM and 1GB is a lot of RAM). DELL recommended Windows 7 to resolve the issue but we had to consider the cost of licensing and support as well. There was concern that the request to migrate Windows 7 may open the floodgates for more requests to migrate to Windows 7. Windows XP is a great OS but when facing the newer generations of Intel chips and hardware, Windows XP does show its shortcomings at the wrong time.

That is when I was re-introduced to an old friend – Linux.

My colleague who had the same model and with the same OS shared his list of problems with the laptop and he suggested us to look for cheaper alternative (since Windows 7 was costly). After my initial “test” with Linux Mint (which used Ubuntu as its base), I decided to move to 64 bit Ubuntu version 10.10 (the latest of the Ubuntu releases – code named “Maverick Meerkat” – released on 10th October 2010).

I have used Ubuntu before, back in 2006. When my house’s Pentium 3 powered desktop’s Windows XP crashed and continued to give problem, I decided enough is enough and decided to install Ubuntu (version 6.10). But having Linux as the main OS, poses other problems, namely when one needs to install a new program (the latest Ubuntu makes things easier by having a package manager). Getting the right drivers for the hardware under Ubuntu was a major pain in the neck – I had a tough time getting my dial-up modem to work before I could proceed with other updates. Then there is another problem of getting Window based application to run in Linux. Back then, options were limited for newbies when it comes to Linux but things have changed a lot in the last few years.

Ubuntu latest version is 10.10 and a lot of drivers are now supported under the new version. No longer, I had the problem looking high and low for modem drivers and so on. Hardware is auto detected and appropriate drivers are recommended. If there is none, a lot of the hardware and application providers now have a Linux version of their drivers / applications. Installation was breeze but you need to be careful with the partitioning of the HDD.

You can get the installer to run auto but since I had installed Linux Mint (for my testing) – I had plenty of do to uninstall Linux Mint and then rebuild the grub and boot before I can install Ubuntu. Thankfully, there were plenty of leads, guides and clues on the internet.

(Here’s something interesting – 90% of the desktops at Weta Digital ran on Ubuntu Linux for the production of the movie: Avatar. Image source: http://www.slegrand.blogspot.com)

I installed the latest version of Ubuntu together with the existing OS (Windows XP – sadly it is still need to run some proprietary applications) without major errors and been working steadily to fully migrate from Windows to Linux. Ubuntu also comes with “Software Center” which easily provides categories of software that can be downloaded to Ubuntu (categories available is Games, Office, Fonts, Developer Tools, System, Education, etc).

This has helped a lot in getting the corresponding Windows software for Ubuntu (there is another option of installing Windows applications in Linux – by using Wines but I rather get a proper Linux applications for now). More importantly, Ubuntu recognise the whole 4GB of RAM and thus my applications run faster under Ubuntu than under Windows. Understandably, under Linux, the start-up and shut-down of the OS has been lightning speed as well (there is always an error message – some services failing to shut down – when I shut the Windows XP).

To run SQLs on Oracle Database, I downloaded and run Oracle SQL Developer tools (in Windows, I usually use Quest’s Toad). It worked fine. For emails, I am using open source Evolution Mail and for IMs, Empathy IM (Linux Mint on the other hand uses Thunderbird and Pidgin). I am toying with VMWare lately but there is one thing I still not been able to resolve – getting my Firefox to run Java version 1.6 (version 6 update 21).

I managed to get it running in Linux Mint (it took me couple of weeks though) and I tried to retrace my steps on how I did it in Linux Mint but I still could not get the Java up in Ubuntu. I must have missed something but I cannot put my finger on it, yet. I have downloaded both JDK & JRE version and even looked up into the Ubuntu’s Package Manager but recognition of Java at browser level proves to be a tough nut to crack.

This reminds me of the days when I was tinkering with Ubuntu 6.10, almost 4 years ago. Linux has not been an easy OS to use with (even with the latest Windows like, wizard guided installation) but perhaps that is what makes it exciting for software “geek” like me. It can be better than Windows if we are able to get the packages right but you may need to look for it high and low. Sometimes, you may need to rely on an alternative solution.

It is back to doing more research before I can say that I am 100% Ubuntu – this should be an interesting journey.