PCLinuxOS 2007 – Part II Gutsy Gibbon – Part I

The new Gutsy Gibbon distro of ubuntu is here! And we got the scoop, on the usability. Will Gutsy Gibbon overcome the PCLinuxOS 2007 distro?

Before we begin this switcheroo, I have to say somethings that foreign visitors will understand why it occured. In my last post about Linux (PCLinuxOS), I installed a modern distribution, more stable from Feisty 7.04 and with full (minus a small 3d accelaration) hardware support. But there was a tiny itsy bitsy problem. No greek repository yet. For a person who has a rather anachronistic speed (as all Greeks have), of 768Kbps (that is actually around 400Kbps due to the bad phone lines), this is very important. An update of PClinuxOS took around 2 hours for 700 mb of data. Using the really fast greek repos, this update takes around 40mins in ubuntu. Therefore and for the sake of test drive purposes I decided to install Gutsy Gibbon.

I fell in love with the new KDE system that was in PCL. So I said, «why not install the Kubuntu deriative?» and that’s what happened. Due to some bugs/missing feats to KDE, I decided to remove it from the system. Mostly I wanted two things to use that were not availiable. Kopete, which was broken and the new adept system (a very nice installer for kde to replace synaptic) had no update (there was a fix that adept could not install yet…) and my webcam that was automatically recognized in PCL. Also, knetworkmanager was constantly and out of the blue, losing my route tables. I was not very happy with that distro. So I had to put another deriative, xubuntu. But don’t be a stranger to Kubuntu. It’s still a top distro, that I am sure will have updates soon for all the problems.

Xubuntu’s installation has changed since it became an official project and not an unofficial deriative. I used to have xubuntu when my computer’s memory was 128mb (out of 384mb that are now), and it was fast and yet in the making. I was amazed on how much it has gone during those 2 years.

First of all, it has the generic installation of all ubuntu systems. The new installer, is very much user friendly, but it still has quirks. Since we use it for one time only it is forgiven, as long as it is going to be fixed on further installments. As a sidenote, I found a nifty project that is being created, called wubi-installer (thanks to pestaola.gr‘s announcement [greek] of gutsy), which you can install a linux distro on your pc without having to format, resize partitions or anything else (it’s called a file image process). So far, it supports the previous edition of Ubuntu/Debian distros, so be sure to wait a couple of months if you consider this, or just install the previous version for testing.

First Screen – First Problems
After the installation and reboot, I was on the logon screen of the familiar mouse distro. I started with problems. When I booted the live cd, my screen was flickering like hell. I thought it was because of the high resolution, but it was due to wrong monitor detection. I spend a couple of hours tweaking the card, just to find out the dark side of linux monitor detection. But I am sure it was all because of the monitor (it’s my first monitor that can go up to 2000 by whatever resolution). Well a quick dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg did work as a charm. And voila! We had a hi-res mousey.

Installing nvidia was easy. The problem I had with the old 7.04 and the restricted drivers is finally solved so I could enable/disable all my restricted devices easy as a click. Yet hardware problems will still torment me. Did I mention before I had a webcam? Yes. I have an ov511 compatible webcam. This webcam on ubuntu is not autodetected. It is found using lsusb but no kernel module. So I downloaded the source, and tried to do it on my own. This resulted into a big puzzle, since in the repos there is an ov511/ov51x source package. I thought it was an autokernel, but at the end it needed some things to make it into a full blown kernel module (os driver for windows junkies). Well, I tried everything I could get from internet but I had problems with gqcam, camorama and xawtv. Fullscreen video works, windowed mode shows black and white, garbled video. Since the webcam is rather old, I might buy a new more compatible camera which maybe there is bigger support. For other more lucky people, there is a program called easycam that can do the installation of the webcam … easy.

Programs
As always, program installation is in order. After settling with the desktop, I had a 1280×1024 large area to fill with my projects and icons. My first choice of arsenal was to install java and jdk. Java 1.6 was installed easy through the synaptic package manager. I put my computer to test, to see how fast java works. And it works faster than the old installations. I installed netbeans at notime, and the loading time is rather fast for a pc that is considered obsolete. Faster, I can say from the nifty p4 I use for my games and rogramming.

I also installed wine since I wanted to test some games. I tried to install might and magic games but they were buggy from themselves so this proved to be a hole in the water. Though I will try it again with a cedega demo engine today. I also installed a nifty poker called PokerTH (Poker Texas Hold’em) which makes my new addiction happy.

For office apps, it has openoffice (what else!) and abiword. I found abiword very pleasant while I am writing these lines there (and transfer them to my blog once it’s done). Finally Ubuntu switched over to pidgin (instead of gaim) and the world seemed very good.  Now I know I am ready to go on with my normal life.

One thing that xubuntu does not have, is superkaramba! I loved it on KDE. It is making KDE look like it has nothing to lose from vista or macosx. So I tried to find for an alternative, which the most popular is adesklet but it sucks. I was not happy with it so I uninstalled it.

My Network, Totoro.
One of the things that xubuntu has not out of the box, is network neighborhood. This is bad, because I had to do some extra steps, on installing a program called fuse to be able to read network shares. But I was used from before (I wish there was an automated way though on shared folders to add the fuse plugin) so it was no big deal. Network is running and is going good.

Overall
When I compared PCL with Feisty, I found PCL the winner. Now I can say that PCL and Gutsy are equals with Gutsy winning over some territory as the next update batch of programs will come. I haven’t tested other areas because the webcam problem really took me most of my testing period time, but I can say that being on a debian based distro instead of a mandrake/mandriva one, really makes me feel like I am home. Apt distribution is a great factor (but synaptic is on mandrake too!), and repos are nice (borat impression). I’d still choose pclinuxos for a laptop (due to hardware identification gone easy), but for eyecandism-easy I’d go with a gutsy distro. Gutsy contains compiz-fusion which is a recombined beryl-compiz project (I really hope they would stop this, it’s like the xorg dispute all over again). For my desktop, I’d go with xubuntu or kubuntu (I am waiting for wubi). I suggest ubuntu for anyone who would like to get seriously and rid of windows for the sake of his pocket and the feeling of freedom. You can’t mess with the programs as long as you don’t know what a sudo can do, only with your data.

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