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Ubuntu (9.04) Jaunty Jackalope first impressions

2 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 23 2009

I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on my main laptop (HP Compaq 8510p) and I wanted to post what my first impressions:

My first issue was with the installation. I am not sure if this feature was taken out or if there was just some other reason I couldn’t do it, but what happened to the ability to resize your Windows partition to install Ubuntu on the newly created free space? I only had two options on my install, use the entire disk (erasing Windows), or manually select which partitions to use (without the ability to resize a partition). What I ended up having to do was boot back into Windows Vista and resize my main partition to free up unallocated space on my drive manually. While this wasn’t horrible to do, I can imagine there are quite a few people out there that don’t know how to do this. After I had freed up 15 GB on my drive I had a third option to install Ubuntu on the largest available free space but it was still a bit of a hassle to do in the first place.
Once I actually booted into Ubuntu I was greeted with all of my hardware working out of the box…until I rebooted.
I am not sure why but my sound wasn’t working past the login screen. It worked just fine on the first boot and it has never failed to work in any previous Ubuntu installation on this laptop (8.04-9.04). I was eager to play some of my music, but I soon remembered one of the reasons I switched to Linux Mint…and that sent me to the package manager to install the restricted extra’s package so I could listen to my music in MP3 format. Once I finally had the package installed I then realized I couldn’t hear any music coming from the Rythumbox player. I started up Firefox and headed to YouTube to see if I had any audio there. Back to the package manager to install flash and then restarted Firefox to see if I had sound from YouTube. This confirmed that I had no sound working whatsoever. I went to the forums and installed the Gnome ALSA mixer cause I heard it solved the problem for some people but for me it would just open up with a blank window with no options but to exit. So I gave up on my sound thinking I could just use my USB sound card that has worked with every other distribution of Ubuntu I have tried it on (back to 7.10). Wrong I was. The USB sound card did not work with Audacity however after 3 more reboots all of a sudden my onboard sound worked again. I tested it with Audacity and I was set to record the next mintCast.
During all of this work to get my sound working again I probably had Firefox crash on me, I’d say, 6 times. While I am not new to having Firefox crash, especially not in Linux, I was quite surprised to have this sort of instability for a newly released OS. Sure I installed the Adobe Flash add-on but in the past when Flash crashed it just wouldn’t play videos anymore until I rebooted the browser. These crashes were full system locking, power button holding, not even RSEIUB would help kind of crashes. I will admit in the second day I used Jaunty I haven’t had Firefox crash on me once but the bitter taste of a unstable browser still frightens my every keystroke.
With everything working as it should I decided to test this famed boot speed improvements using ext4. I have seen video’s of sub 20 second boot times and I am very curious what my laptop can do. With Linux Mint 6 installed my boot times from the time I pushed the power button till the time I loaded a webpage with Firefox was about 50 seconds. I defiantly felt like Jaunty was faster than that, but after 2 tests (with auto login and and Firefox set to auto run) my best time was still only 41 seconds. Once again, a little bit of a downer.
Next thing to test was one of my outstanding problems with Ubuntu/Linux Mint. At work and at home I use a docking station to dock my laptop to be able to use a full keyboard/mouse and large monitor. When my computer is docked I get video on the external display but it never detects as a second monitor through the docking port, and instead it just mirrors my display and never lets me change my resolution on the external monitor. If I plug the monitor in to the VGA port on the laptop it is just fine however. I tried to open system preferences and all I was greeted with was this empty window that I had to force quit every time I opened it. This was finally another strike that made me very sad and disappointed that Jaunty isn’t what I thought it would be. display-preferences
The final little nagging feature was the pop-up that asks you to confirm your shutdowns and restarts just like OSX. I heard an interview with Mark Shuttleworth and he said that this was necessary for the new desktop notifications so I wasn’t too bummed about it but it does make shutting down a little more annoying.
On the plus side I do like the pop-up notifications, which I didn’t think I would, and I like the improvements made to Evolution (and it is really winning me over from Thunderbird). I think 9.04 isn’t a step backwards like 8.10 was compared to 8.04, but I don’t feel like 9.04 is living up to the hype.
I have no plans to stop using Linux Mint or Ubuntu (or Linux in general). I think they are both fantastic operating systems and I am so thankful for the countless people that put in all of their free time and talent into the system. I try to contribute in as many ways as I know how and will continue to support the community whenever I have the chance.
For now, I am looking forward to what Ubuntu 9.10 will have in store.
Let me know what things you love and hate about 9.04 in the comments.