Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex Wallpaper

I waited a few days to let the load on the servers cool down so I could try Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 out on my new Dell Inspiron 530 system. Intrepid was released on October 30th and I downloaded it a few days later. With this upgrade I went from an Athlon X2 3800 to an Intel Q6600 Quad Core system. This new system has 6 gigabytes of memory so I needed to move up from 32 bit Ubuntu to the 64 bit version. For those who don’t know, a 32 bit OS can’t address over 4 gigs of memory. So 64 bit is quickly becoming a necessity with the systems coming out today.

Intrepid Ibex is not a long term support release. Support will only last 18 months for it. For those needed longer support, Canonical’s previous release offered it. Ubuntu Hardy Herron 8.04 LTS had 5 year support for servers and 3 years on the desktop.

Software Included in Intrepid:

Linux kernel 2.6.27

GNOME 2.24.1

X.org 7.4

Compiz 0.7.8

Firefox 3.0.3

Gimp 2.6.1

OpenOffice 2.4.1 (3.0 was available but not included in release)

F-Spot 0.5.0.3

Network Manager 0.7.0

Python 2.5.2

Mono 1.9.1

gcc 4.3.1

Hardware Detection:

There is not much to write about here. Intrepid saw everything on the system that I had plugged in. Graphics acceleration, networking, Flash cards, USB sticks, and my Epson CX3800 inkjet printer were all working. The last couple of versions of Ubuntu pretty much has had everything working right out of the box for me.

Creating a USB Startup Disk:

Before I did a hard disk install I wanted to try out one of the new features in Intrepid. Intrepid includes the ability to make a bootable flash drive right from the GNOME desktop. It is located under the Administration Menu. I used a 4 GB Sandisk drive to try this out. I like Sandisk for putting the Tux Penguin on the back of their flash drives. It is rare that I see anything other than Microsoft and Apple logos on computer accessories. The installer gave me the option of using up to 3 GB of the 4 GB to use for saving data leaving the remaining GB for the operating system.

The installation was simple and I was able to boot of the flash drive with no problems. Changes I made to the Ubuntu installation were, as promised, saved to the drive for later use. However, I did notice an occasional slow down on the system. It would hesitate for a few seconds and then be fine. I don’t know if the particular drive I using was faulty or it was because of the slowness of flash drives in general. In the past, I have tried using bootable USB drives with Puppy, DSL, and SLAX. They all seemed to be about as fast as booting off a regular hard drive. But these are smaller distributions that are not as demanding as Ubuntu.

For those Windows users who don’t want to partition their drive the Wubi installer is included with Intrepid Ibex. Canonical has included the Wubi installer on the CD since Hardy Herron 8.04. For those who don’t know, Wubi lets you install Ubuntu using Windows. The whole Ubuntu install is put within a file in the Windows file system (c:\ubuntu\disks\root.disk). You can use the Windows Add/Remove Programs to delete this file later if you want to remove Ubuntu from your system.

Installation:

Before I did the hard drive install I needed to prepare the system using GParted. The Ubiquity installer allows installations using the whole drive or you can shrink a lone Windows NTFS partition to make space for Ubuntu. But I had Vista system that already had 3 primary partitions (Dell diagnostics, Recovery, and the Vista partition) and I need to add a 4th partition which needed to be setup as an extended partition so I could go beyond having just 4 partitions on the drive. So I had to do some prep work in GParted before running the Ubiquity installer. I wanted the Windows install to take up about 200 GB of the drive and leave the rest to Linux. Using GParted, I successfully resized the last NTFS partition down from 640 to 200 GB, but it took over 2 hours. I can’t complain since GParted has been very reliable the many times I’ve used it. I’ve never lost data with it resizing either ext3 or NTFS partitions.

A few things I should mention for those who haven’t tried to move a Windows partition with Gparted before. Make sure the NTFS drive is not too fragmented and that you properly shut down Windows the last time you used it. After you move the NTFS partition in either XP or Vista the Windows OS is going to want to run a chkdsk to check the integrity of the drive. I had to reboot Vista twice for it to go through the chkdsk process and be happy with the drive again.

Once I had the ext3 and swap partitions setup I went and fired up the installer. The 7 step Ubiquity installer looks pretty much the same to me as in Hardy Herron with the exception of a couple things.  They added some pretty color coded disk usage bars showing disk space left on my hard drive. I guess they felt Ubiquity needed a little dressing up. Now if they can just dress up the GRUB menu in Ubuntu. ;) Ubiquity also includes setting up a boot without a login feature. It’s a checkbox on step 5 of 7 in the installer. While this makes things a little more convenient, you obviously need to have a your box in a secure location if you use it.

First Impressions:

Like previous versions Intrepid has a brown look to it’s theme, wallpaper, and GDM logon manager. There were some subtle changes to the looks though. The Human theme (now using the Murrine engine) has had some subtle changes to it. I noticed the GDM logon screen, while still being brown, now has a dark smoky look to it. The wallpaper has changed too. I’ve read other bloggers calling it a coffee table with a stain on it. In my opinion, the Intrepid wallpaper is more neutral and less distracting then the flashy bird in Hardy Herron.

Ubuntu Intrepid has also included a new darkroom theme that looks pretty impressive. I have, however, read other reviews write the darkroom theme makes it difficult to read text. The theme that I really wish had been included is the Dust theme. Check out it’s use with various wallpapers at the Ubuntu Wiki. Maybe they will consider it for addition when Jaunty 9.04 comes out.

Network Manager Improvements:

There are several major improvements for the road warrior in this version of Ubuntu. 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.

Encrypted Folders Added:

Encrypted private folder support is now built into Ubuntu 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, ecryptfs-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 nice having this feature built into the distribution.

New Guest Account Feature:

New to Intrepid is the ability to open up a guest session using the Fast User Switcher applet. Since the guest home directory is stored under the tmp directory changes made using this account will be wiped out on shut down. This account is well locked down so someone you loan the computer to can’t view your home directory or administer the system.

Nautilus Gets Some Tabs:

The version of Nautilus shipping with Intrepid, version 2.24.1, has full tab support with it. This is something other Linux file managers, like Konqueror, Thunar, or PCMan, have had for some time.  You can create a new tab in Nautilus by hitting Ctrl + T or using the File Menu>New Tab. I find this makes copying and pasting between two directories a lot easier. Also new, the sidebar now includes eject icons of your mountable drives.

Eject CD-ROM Bug:

My system suffers from a well known bug that shipped with Ubuntu 8.10. If I try and eject a CD using Nautilus the tray opens and closes immediately, leaving me no time to take out the CD. If I eject the CD using the hardware button on the computer I don’t have this problem. The comments in the bug report at Launchpad said it was a problem with the udev device manager. They recommended upgrading udev to fix the problem. I can confirm this fix works, because when I grabbed the latest version of udev this problem went away.

Getting Plugins Working:

Ubuntu does not ship with MP3, Flash, DVD playback, and other codecs for legal reasons. There are other distributions, like Linux Mint, if you need that stuff working out of the box. However, It usually easy to get this non-free stuff working in Ubuntu with it’s services like the Plugin Finder and Restricted Driver Manager. To test this feature out, I went to YouTube to playback some Flash clips. On my old Athlon 32 bit system, Plugin Finder was initiated when I tried to play Flash videos and it installed Flash with no problems. For some reason I didn’t have the same luck with 64 bit Intrepid’s Plugin Finder. It did not get activated when I tried opening up a video in Youtube.

Fortunately, adding Flash 10 to Ubuntu can be done easily from the command line or Synaptic package manager. You just need to make sure you have the universe and multiverse repositories enabled. I was able to get Flash 10 working by typing in this line at the command prompt:

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree

I had a more positive experience when I tried playing MP3 files in Rhythmbox. When I tried to open up a MP3 file Ubuntu asked if I wanted the gstreamer plugin that Rhythmbox needed to play it. This worked without a fuss. I really like the Plugin Finder system Ubuntu has. Using it they manage to ship an almost entirely free distribution while giving people an easy (one click) way to add the proprietary stuff if need be.

Ubuntu also has an automated way to install proprietary drivers using the Restricted Driver Manager. I’ve used this successfully on other systems before. Fortunately, with the Intel integrated graphics on this motherboard I was able to get Compiz working with a free driver.

Synaptic Quick Search and BBC Content in Totem:

A new feature added to Intrepid was a Quick Search box at the top of Synaptic package manager. No need to click the search button any more for you searches.

I also tried out the BBC DRM-free content that is incorporated into Totem media player. The BBC and Canonical have teamed up to add BBC content to Totem. They had a good variety of programs available when I tried the service. You can access the content by clicking on the Playlist drop down box in Totem and selecting BBC. Unfortunately, not all content is available for people outside the UK. If you click on UK-only content in the US you just get a recording telling you don’t have access to it. It would save time if they could somehow filter UK-only content on the playlist to save people outside the UK time. It would also help if they somehow marked or separated audio and video content. All though I have read there is some out there, I couldn’t find any video content when I searched through the programs. The project is fairly new so hopefully user interface improvements and more audio/video content should be available soon.

Complaints:

One of the first things I downloaded after installation was Compiz Config Settings Manager. It is available in the Ubuntu repositories. I am not sure why they do not ship with this by default. It seems kind of silly to have all the Compiz features built into the distribution and then not include a program to configure it. I know people with lousy graphics cards can’t make any use of the program. But it leaves people who can use the bling with no clue how to use it. It’s features is one of the things that puts Microsoft Vista to shame. I’ve got Vista and Ubuntu on the same box now and having played with both I can say the Aero Glass eye candy can’t compete Compiz.

Starting with Hardy Ubuntu has a easy to configure frontend to Iptables called Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW). Unfortunately, while it’s syntax is really easy, it is a command line only tool. This leaves Ubuntu with no GUI firewall shipped with the distribution. I think this is a weak point for Ubuntu. Even more so with the number of laptops people carry around with them nowadays. Unless you want to pack a router in you laptop bag your going to need a software firewall. A new Linux user (Ubuntu’s claimed target audience) will not see any firewall in the GNOME menu structure. They are not going to be looking for a command line one since most Windows users only live within the GUI. In my humble opinion they should try and add a simple GUI frontend for UFW. Something like Gufw would be a nice improvement. Firestarter might be a bit overkill. If you want to try it out, Gufw It is already available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Lastly, I wish Rythmbox had a way of exporting/importing OPML feeds of podcasts. If one wanted to switch to using Rythmbox for a podcasting client this would make things considerably easier. Manually adding a couple dozen feeds is no fun. This feature is included in other Linux podcast clients like Gpodder and Icepodder. I’ve read Itunes has OPML import/export too although I don’t use Itunes. It would make the migration to Ubuntu easier if this were included. Here is an idea. Maybe Ubiquity could pull your podcast client’s OPML file in your Windows/Linux partition using the Migration Assistant. Much like it does for your bookmarks, wallpaper, contacts, etc.

Conclusion:

I have been running Ubuntu as my primary system since Dapper Drake. It is a fast, stable, and easy to use operating system. I’ve tried many Linux distributions and I find I have the least hardware problems with Ubuntu. There are complaints that I have with it, but they are few. I also appreciate their stance on free software. They run without a lot of the non-free drivers and codecs, but if you want they make adding them easy through applications like the Restricted Driver Manager and Plugin Finder. It is the compromise that is the most inclusive of both views. You get a choice either way. With the addition of programs like the Migration Assistant and Wubi, they also have added tools that make the transition from Windows as easy as possible.

Compiz With Ubuntu Games

Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex Wallpaper

15 Responses to “Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 64 bit Review”

  1. mentallaxative says:

    Minor point: Thunar doesn’t have tabs.

  2. Gigi says:

    Two things: Thunar doesn’t support tabs AFAIK… While ccsm (compiz-config-settings-manager) is good to have, it has the potential to overly confuse anyone (and not just newbies) with it’s myriad options. Obviously, that is why it has been dropped and ubuntu is adding a simpler approach by way of giving you three options viz - no effects, normal effects and extra effects.

    Other than that, a good review.

  3. David says:

    Thanks guys. Fixed error on Thunar having tabs. Don’t know what I was thinking on that one.

    Gigi:

    Regarding CCSM: I still think Ubuntu needs something more than just three options with Compiz. Maybe someone could come up with a simplified stripped down version. Or hide the more exotic stuff of CCSM in an advanced tab. I just think it is a shame that many people are never going to know what Compiz can do because of CCSM being left out.

  4. LinuxCanuck says:

    I know that Ubuntu now maxes out a CD and that it might be time to consider moving to a DVD format. Blank DVDs are often cheaper than CDs anyway. That way more could be included. It will of course chew up more bandwidth and I know that this is an issue around release time. Still, I hope that it is something that they consider. It would allow more flexibly and things would not have to be thrown out as new things are added.
    As for the comment that users who use encryption should learn commandline, that is soooo yesterday. It is time for commandline users to stop thinking that everyone needs to use the commandline to access more powerful features. The GUI is a visual extension of the commandline, just as the commandline is an extension of coding that goes into making the commands work.
    If Linux is going to progress such comments and the archaic thinking behind it needs to stop. If Linux wants to run with the big boys (Apple and Microsoft) and produce modern operating systems that are usable and fun to use then, it is lunacy to propose that users drop into the commandline to do anything powerful. Besides, as I age, remembering commands and syntax for things that I use infrequently becomes a problem. Have a heart, guys!
    Aside from that I enjoyed your review and am tempted to give 64-bit a shot once again. Multimedia is always my stumbling block. I use many types and it does not always work as advertised. Keep up the great work!

  5. -deadcats says:

    LinuxCanuck; if you go here: http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/8.10/release/ you can download the DVD versions of Ubuntu 8.10.

    regards,
    -dc

  6. shamil says:

    I’ve got a dell vostro 1500. And for once, i’ve decided to try out 64bit ubuntu also. What i’ve learned from this release is that 64bit codecs, drivers, and programs like wine all work normal and with just as much ease as 32bit equivalents. I’ve learned that 64bit ports has caught enough so much that there pretty much is 64bit ports of most everything. Enough ports to 64bit like wine, drivers, and codecs is all i needed to worry about working good. Basically everything that i needed to work does along with everything else that i don’t care so much about and then some. Not a single hassle with 64bit or this distribution. Works quite flawlessly. Also ripping and encoding video or anything is a lot faster in a 64bit environment.

    While i am pretty awesome at linux. I still prefer firewalls like zonealarm. Don’t say firestarter plz, this firewall repeatedly fails to start it’s own service on bootup on all distributions i’ve tried it on (requiring manual activation every time), firestarter really sort of sucks. Mandriva has invictus firewall which is very good, and then you have all these others that are cli only, complicated, and too time consuming for me to even care about. Ubuntu already ships will all ports closed anyway and maybe even stealthed too. UFW is a great initiative for an iptables frontend. If i absolutely need to use a cli firewall, then i’m not afraid of UFW as making rules for it is a lot better than making rules directly for iptables. A front end would still be preferred, i guess i’ll try out GUFW.

  7. bob dobbs says:

    Another nice feature is having a Network Manager that’s worth a damn rather than something to be immediately uninstalled.

  8. shamil says:

    Yes, network-manager that actually does stuff. Like for once reconnecting me to my wireless network upon logging in. I’ve been waiting for this to work perfectly for a while. I no longer need to replace it with wicd. Network-manager is also stable when connecting too.

  9. Naresh V says:

    sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras

    Installing this package will pull in support for MP3 playback and decoding,
    support for various other audio formats (gstreamer plugins), Microsoft fonts,
    Java runtime environment, Flash plugin, LAME (to create compressed audio
    files), and DVD playback.

    https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/intrepid/+package/ubuntu-restricted-extras

  10. pelouro says:

    I observe that Ubuntu is improving everyday, very large amounts of development put on it, but I think all that hard work dies in misery with the crappy desktop environment that is Gnome. I agree 100% with the Linus Torvalds complaints about it. I especially dislike the Nautilus file manager, a unstable and feature-lack monster that claims itself as functional,light and stable.

    That´s why I´m not happy with any Ubuntu release. While relying on Gnome, Ubuntu will have nothing to do in my machines.

    I will keep my Ubuntulite with KDE 3.5x system until KDE4 reaches maturity.

  11. Laurence says:

    I tried Intrepid Ibex, but found it was very very slow, compared to Hardy Heron. After a couple of weeks of being frustrated by windows greying out frequently, and Compiz feeling sluggish, I installed Linux Mint Elyssa (the version based on Hardy) and have been much happier.

    It’s not been an entirely fair test, as I was using Cairo-Dock and had a transparent cube in Intrepid, and am using Desktop Plane and no dock in Elyssa, but I had been running the transparent cube and the Avant dock with Hardy, and hadn’t had the same slowdown.

  12. Tom Wright says:

    @LinuxCanuck
    I don’t want to have to download 5gb every 6 months. If Ubuntu moved to a DVD it would seriously inhibit many adopters, for people trying it for the first time the CD is already the largest thing they are likely to have ever downloaded (unless they torrent :-)) and as many computers more than about a year (one of the main attractions of Ubuntu is that even the full gnome version will work fine with computers upto about about 9 years old) old cannot boot from DVD’s. I think that Ubuntu already ships with all the software that I need and shipping on DVD is not the right way to go.

  13. James Dashner says:

    There is now a 64-bit version of the Linux flash player. Although it is in alpha form, it works fine on Ubuntu 8.04.

  14. Ben says:

    @LinuxCanuck: While the GUI is good for many things, it is often better to do things via text(or terminal). For example, you can make complicated graphics using InkScape, or a complicated website using some WYSIWYG editor, but the code these programs will produce will almost never be as clean as code produced by someone in a text editor, because the program does not look for places where it could optimize the code. While GU interfaces are good for making things simple, they often lack many of the features of the command line variants/back-ends and sometimes do things much more complicatedly than is necessary.

    That said, I don’t often use the command line unless I’m trying to get the networking working(I could never get that working except on Ubuntu with a little work or OpenSuSE with a good bit of work), writing a web page, or troubleshooting a program which just wont work. While I prefer to use the GUI whenever possible, I still see the [insert descriptive word here] of CLI, and I believe it is good for everyone not to forget it’s importance. ;)

  15. Fabian Argento says:

    @Ben: while the CLI is still important, their use will become more and more focused on tech people who need to accomplish specialized tasks, like troubleshooting, debugging, etc. The features that you name that the GUIs don’t have, are just a matter of present state of the technology. The use of AI can solve this easily, it’s just a matter of time. Right now, there are some web editors that have a button to clean messy code. Sooner or later , almost nobody will need to know what is going on behind the surface of the tools, just focus on development. Things are going this way. And then Skynet will be born :)

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