Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex DesktopAlpha 6 is the last alpha release of Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10. I wanted to give it a try on my Dell Inspiron 1150 notebook to see how far it had come along. My Dell has an Intel Celeron 2.4 Ghz processor, 1 Gig of RAM, and 80 Gigabytes of hard disk space. The Ubuntu release schedule states the final release date for Intrepid Ibex is October 30th, 2008.

Software Included:

Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex uses the Linux kernel 2.6.27, XFCE 4.4.2, X.Org server 7.4, and a much improved Network Manager 0.7.0. For office applications you have Abiword 2.6.4 word processor, Gnumeric 1.8.3 spreadsheet, and Orange 4.5.14.0 Calendar. Graphics applications included the GIMP 2.4.7 and image viewer GPicView 0.1.9. In multimedia Xubuntu uses Totem 2.23.91 for video, Audacious 1.5.1 for music playback, and Brasero 0.8.2 for CD/DVD burning. Xubuntu includes two Web browsers, Firefox 3.0.2 and a lightweight newcomer, Midori 0.0.18. Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0.0.16 is used for Email/news while Pidgin 2.5.1 is your IM client. GParted 0.3.8 is included for you to edit your partitions.

Xubuntu trys to keep hardware requirements lower than it’s Ubuntu or Kubuntu cousins by using the lighter window manager XFCE. They also have rejected the Open Office suite in favor of much lighter office applications like Abiword and Gnumeric. This would be a problem for those looking for a powerful office suite, but for most home users they make a decent enough word processor and spreadsheet. I wish they had put in a podcast client though. On Ubuntu you can use Rhythmbox for automatically downloading podcasts. Even the mini distribution Puppy Linux has it’s own podcast client, PuppyPodcastGrabber. So far as I know there is no way to use Xubuntu’s media player Audacious as a podcast client.

First Impresssions:

On boot of the CD I was presented with the same menu options as Xubuntu Hardy 8.04. I had the following choices:

Try Xubuntu without any changes to your computer

Install Xubuntu

Check CD for defects

Test memory

Boot from first hard disk

I went and chose the first option and booted the system into the live CD environment. During this  bootup I noticed that they had an Ubuntu progress bar screen rather than a Xubuntu bar. I assume they will have this fixed when get to the RC version.

Once I got to the desktop I saw the same Xbuntu-jmak wallpaper that is in Hardy. The wallpaper is an elegant purple/blue gradient with waves it. They also have the Edgy, Feisty, and Gutsy wallpapers on the CD if you prefer them. Their MurrinaStormCloud theme goes well with the Xubuntu wallpaper and the desktop looks much better than the Ubuntu wallpaper/theme combination in my book.

I was also pleased with the speed of the system. Programs opened up quickly even though I was running off of CD. I noticed they have yet to change the help documentation on this version. I clicked the help item in the top panel and got a welcome to Xubuntu 8.04 message. I guess the documentation would be one of the last things completed in a new release.

Getting Online:

I prefer to use a Hawking HWU-8DD Wireless G Dish USB adapter to get online. It’s got better reception than my internal Dell Wireless 1350 Mini-card that came with my notebook. On bootup, Xubuntu saw the USB Hawking adapter, and using the zd1211rw module (included in the kernel), Network Manager saw several wireless signals around me.

I had a little trouble getting the Dell 1350 wireless card working. In Ubuntu Hardy when you boot off the CD the Restricted Driver Manager comes up, prompts you to download the firmware, and then extracts it using fwcutter. I did not get any kind of popup messsage like this in Xubuntu Intrepid. So I went to the Applications Menu and chose System>Hardware Drivers (Xubuntu’s version of Restricted Driver Manager) to try and get the wireless adapter working. This gave me a screen showing me the Broadcom B43 driver I needed and a button to install it. After I clicked the button I still did not have a signal showing up in Network Manager. I went to the terminal and saw that I was getting the same dmesg error I got at bootup telling me I had to go to the openwrt.org site and get the firmware myself. To fix the problem was not a big deal. I needed to do a few lines of copy and paste to grab the firmware and extract it, sudo iwconfig eth1 up at the terminal to bring up the card, and then Network Manager saw my Dell 1350 wireless adapter. It would be nice if they could automagically get this to work with just a one-button click though.

Network Manager 0.7.0 Improvements:

There are several major improvements for the road warrior in this version of Xubuntu. Network Manager now supports connections to Virtual Private Networks so you can securely login to a corporate network while out on the road. They have also added the ability to use mobile broadband via GSM/CDMA 3G networks. Unfortunately, I don’t have either a VPN or mobile broadband so I could not test out these features. They also have added a tab in Network Manager to help DSL users get online. I either use WI-FI or Cable modem to get online so I could not test this feature. The NetworkManager page has more information on the updates to the project.

I did have a bit of a fight with Network Manager on my system. Once I had my Dell Wireless 1350 card working, I had the choice to use it or the Hawking USB adapter when I clicked on the Network Manager icon in the top panel. Both were seeing wireless signals. For some reason, Network Manager would keep reverting back to the 1350 internal card when I chose to use the Hawking USB adapter with the radio button. I fixed the problem by turning off the 1350 internal card.

Logon Screen Problem:

I tried to run just about every program from the live CD to test for bugs. No crashes or programs not opening up while I was using the live CD. However, I did see small problem with the logon screen. The username and password text was shifted way over to the left and not aligned properly. Once I did an install of Ibex and booted the system this problem went away. Apparently, the logon screen is only faulty when running the live CD.

Ubiquity installer:

Given the system seemed pretty solid, I decided to do an install on a spare 5 gig spare partition I had on my hard drive. The first 3 screens of the Ubiquity installer looked the same to me as they did in Hardy, but when you set up your partitions on screen 4 Ubiquity gives you this pretty color coded meter that shows you your partitions. One thing I didn’t like with the meter was the way it listed percentage space available rather than amount in Gigabytes. The absolute space in Gigabytes is far more useful to me in making sure I have alloted enough space for the install. The other problem was, like the logon screen problem earlier, the text was not aligned correctly. The percentage space available icons are sitting on top of the text partition names. I didn’t see a bug like this in Launchpad so I filled one under bug #274115. Other than that small gripe everything worked fine in the installer. Setup of the paritions, formatting, and the migration assistant did it’s job. When I booted the system I saw the it had set up my GRUB entries correctly. The whole process took about 30 minutes to get Xubuntu on the system and this is while I was using the live CD during the install.

I did get one crash on the system. The first time I ran the installer I needed to do something else and I opted to quit the installer.  Fortunately, it was minor and did not lock up X server.  Xubuntu uses a program called Apport to send in system information about a crash to Ubuntu. I submitted a crash report to them so hopefully that helps them out.

Encrypted Folders Added:

Encrypted private folder support is now built into Xubuntu using a package called ecryptfs-utils. Installation and directions can be found here. I followed the instructions and had no problem setting up an encrypted folder on the system. For now, encryptfs-utils is only a command line based project. Since Ubuntu/Kubuntu/Xubuntu are newbie distributions, I wonder if they will come up with a GUI frontend for this.  I suppose you could argue that when people start messing with encryption they are going beyond newbie status and should know some command line stuff.  Either way, it is still nice having this feature built into the Ubuntu distributions.

Conclusion:

With VPN, 3G GSM/CDMA Broadband, and encrypted folder support the road warrior has some real reasons to upgrade to Xubuntu Interpid Ibex. However, unless you use DSL, for the average home user I did not see any major changes in this distribution. It is worth a try out though. As I said earlier in my post, it functions well with the ocassion (it’s still an alpha folks) crash.

   Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex DesktopInterpid Ibex GDM logon screenXubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 GamesXubuntuOfficeGIMP Version 2.4.7Xubuntu XFCE Settings ManagerThunar 0.90 File ManagerUbiquityInstallationUbiquity partioner second screenUbiquity PartionerUbiquityCrashApport Bug Reporting

5 Responses to “Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 Alpha 6 Review”

  1. Béranger says:

    Nice review, thanks! (I had to read today something well put together, and your review was that reading!)
    Tiny suggestion: also try http://packages.ubuntu.com/intrepid/xfburn — it’s simple, but nice.

  2. Create an Encrypted Private Directory with eCryptfs | T.G.O.H says:

    [...] Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 Alpha 6 Review [...]

  3. Boycott Novell » Links 25/09/2008: Red Hat’s Business Still Thrives, GNOME 2.24 Released says:

    [...] Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 Alpha 6 Review Alpha 6 is the last alpha release of Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10. I wanted to give it a try on my Dell Inspiron 1150 notebook to see how far it had come along. My Dell has an Intel Celeron 2.4 Ghz processor, 1 Gig of RAM, and 80 Gigabytes of hard disk space. The Ubuntu release schedule states the final release date for Intrepid Ibex is October 30th, 2008. [...]

  4. Konner says:

    very nice review. imo Xubuntu is much more sexy than ubuntu. the logon screen is cool. :] anyways nice review

  5. Pax says:

    Nice review. I’ve been running a number of lightweight distros lately looking for the right distro /for me/. After testing about 25 or so (including a few non-linux OSes - OpenSolaris distros, *BSDs and others), I’ve settled on Xubuntu. I’m pleased with the both its’ lightweight feel (System Monitor tells me it uses 128.4mbs memory at startup, no swap usage) and professionalism (system updates, large repository of apps, good package manager and great support on the ‘net).

    Running it now via VirtualBox on XP. This will give me a chance to really get to know the system as I transition to this new OS. One problem (plus solution) I wanted to pass on to other users. When running this in VirtualBox, I was forced into a 800×600 screen. The only other option available to me was 640×400. After much research I came across a solution I wanted to pass on to other users who might experience the same issue (since apparently it’s pretty common among all Ubuntu derivatives when running in VirtualBox on XP and even the MacOS).

    Fixing the resolution problem is done via Guest Additions in VirtualBox. If this is the first time you’re installing guest additions, you might run across other problems, including the inability to even install them (administrator privileges). The detailed instructions on the linked page below worked perfectly for me after having tried many other solutions. I have the added bonus of seamlessly being able to move the mouse from within the Guest OS Window and my main (host) OS without having to use the escape key (right-ctrl) - nice. Copy/Paste works perfectly also between the two environments. Drag/Copy/Move does not:-( I don’t believe there’s a solution for drag/copy/move in VirtualBox yet.

    How To Increase Screen Resolution with VirtualBox and Ubuntu (print version of page):
    http://www.linuxformat.co.uk/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=printview&t=6438&start=0

    Hope the info above helps users encountering a similar problem.

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