Archive for December, 2008

Jaunty Jackalope Part Deux

A few days ago, I attempted to upgrade to Jaunty Jackalope by the easiest method, Alt+F2, update-manager -d.  I tried that method a few more times in the next few days.  I kept getting error messages.  I found out in the meantime that the desktop cd iso is available. This was not yet ready for Alpha 1, but was made available for Alpha 2. Today, I broke down, downloaded the iso, fired up my cd writer and burned an installation disk for myself. (This necessarily involved going out and getting said external DVD/CD writer since the CD read/writer on my computer never got the hang of writing stuff to disk – long story.)

Here are my first impressions of Jaunty.

1) The boot time for Jaunty is noticeably faster than it was for Intrepid. This was part of the plan for Jaunty, and it has been very successful.

2) One complaint I have so far is that I didn’t get the window I got when installing Intrepid, telling me that I needed to download an Nvidia driver. Since my Nvidia video card requires a proprietary driver in order to work properly, I am looking into this. The workaround I am planning to use is to install envyng-qt and envyng-core (sudo aptitude install envyng-qt envyng-core).  Envy-ng will select the correct Nvidia driver and install it, without my needing to know in advance which driver number is the right one.

Because right now Jaunty jackalope is in alpha, you should only test it if you are up to handling breakage.  It would be nice if such major software projects could go straight to a non-buggy, final form.  Such, alas, is not the present condition of humanity.  If you feel you are up to being a bug-hunter, please adventure along with me and many others, and help the designers bring about the final form that we are all eagerly awaiting.  It is scheduled for release in April.

Happy bug-hunting!

Testing Jaunty Jackalope

Jaunty Jackalope is the code name for Ubuntu 9.04.  It is scheduled for release in April 2009.  Right now, Jaunty is in Alpha 2 – released December 18.  There is always a need for testers, to shake out bugs and make sure fixes work.  I am switching to Jaunty.  You may wish to as well.  It’s a great way to give back to the community that has given us so much!

The first thing you will want to do is to upgrade to Intrepid (Ubuntu 8.10), if you haven’t already.  That can be done most easily via Alt-F2, update-manager -d.  The following assumes you are running Intrepid.

If you haven’t already, run update-manager -d to make sure you have all of your latest updates.  The resulting window after you apply your updates looks like this:

Once you have clicked on “upgrade” you will get the following screen:

Once again, you will get the option to upgrade.  You will get a window listing the steps in upgrading to the new distribution.  The steps from here will take about a half hour on a good connection.

I am in the process of upgrading myself.  One thing to look forward to about Jaunty is the decreased booting time.  Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, wrote about this and the upcoming “blurring” of web applications and the desktop.

Happy testing!

Update 12/22/08:  I am getting an error message when I try to upgrade.  A file is not where it is supposed to be, apparently.  I trust this will be fixed shortly and those of us who want to upgrade and test will be able to get back to work.

One reason I Love Linux

This being Christmas-time, a time to remember gifts we have been given as well as planning on gifts we are giving to others, I can’t help but think of the many gifts the Ubuntu and Linux communities have given to us all. So here is one of my top favorites, at length.

Ubuntu Tweak is possibly my favorite addition to Ubuntu out-of-the-box. Ubuntu Tweak 0.4.4 was released on December 15. It is so new that I haven’t had a chance to enjoy all of the latest additions yet, but here are some:

a. Enabling Metacity’s compositing option. Metacity is the default window manager in Gnome. Compiz is enabled by default to provide eye-candy and a 3D desktop. If you have had to turn off Compiz to get your games or even your year-old computer (cough, cough) to run, you now have an easy way to turn on Metacity compositing. Just check the option, “Enable Metacity’s Compositing feature” under Desktop>Windows>Compositing Manager. No more having to go to the application launcher (Alt-F2), type in gconf-editor, etc.

b. Taking care of thumbnails. When you browse pictures on your computer, they are copied to ~/./thumbnails/normal. This can grow to take up quite a lot of space. Now, with Ubuntu Tweak, you can configure how long these thumbnails are going to hang around, as well as their size. Just go to System>Nautilus>Thumbnails Settings. Now you can determine how long those pesky thumbnails will be allowed to hang around, or even clear the cache.

c. More useful nautilus-scripts. If you’ve used Ubuntu Tweak before, you may have come to love such scripts as “Open with gedit(as root)” or “Browse as root.” Now there are even more scripts available to move files, convert images, link to images, etc. These are under Personal>Scripts>Manage Scripts.

There are also now a new File Type Manager section (under System), putting all the various file types in one place so you can change associated applications easily, and several new third-party sources so you can try new software from repository.

Kudos to Tualatrix for a job very well done!

Jaunty Jackalope

Jaunty Jackalope is the latest, upcoming version of Ubuntu.  Right now it is in its first alpha release.  On April 23, it will be released in final form, to be the official Ubuntu 9.04.

Testing alphas – and the later candidates, betas – is a way to give back to the Ubuntu community.  It can help the developers catch bugs and make the final release as bug-free as possible.  I tested Intrepid starting with the third alpha, and found the Bug Squad people – the testers’ interface with the actual developers – to be pleasant to work with.

Bug testing is not for everybody.  If you are running something mission-critical (like Christmas card labels, for instance), you might want to wait until a later alpha or even a beta.  I myself am waiting for Alpha 2 because I just got my Christmas cards out and want to be able to put any corrections in my list to bed before switching over to Jaunty.  At least, I think I will be able to wait until December 18, when they release Alpha 2!

The Release Schedule for Jaunty Jackalope has a great deal of useful information.  The first alpha was released November 20.  The dates for the later alphas are given.  The first beta release is scheduled for March 26.

If you want to participate in testing, the easiest way to upgrade your computer to Jaunty is to go to the command line (Alt-F2) and type in update-manager -d.  Once you have updated Intrepid, you will get a screen telling you that a newer version is available, with a button to click on if you wish to upgrade.  I will have further screenshots and advice when I switch to Jaunty myself, on or around December 18.  Happy testing!

Address Labels

Now that it’s getting close to Christmas, many of us need to print out address labels so we can send out our Christmas cards.  If you’re used to doing this in Windows, you probably have Avery or other proprietary software that you have used.  In Linux, things are a bit different.
OpenOffice Database is the software you will need on your Ubuntu system.  Thankfully, it comes already installed.  All you need to do to fire it up is to go to Applications > Office > Database.  You will want to select “create a new database”  if you have not already entered your addresses in a database table.
After you have chosen your database name (I chose Christmas Labels) and set up the database, you will want to use the Wizard to help you set up your address table.  Make sure you have selected personal rather than business.  The sample table Addresses will have the fields you need.  Put them into your new table.  It won’t hurt if you call your new table Addresses, since it will be in a different database.
Once you click finish, I recommend that you pull up the help screen, and search for “address book” without the quotes.  You will come to an area, address labels from databases.  This is what you want.  It will give you the step-by-step instructions to print labels based on the addresses you just entered into your address table.
Now, if only Ubuntu could help set up the tree!


December 2008

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