Shiny new Linux software
The new Ubuntu 8.10 is coming out tomorrow.
I should have been playing with it for quite a while now but I don’t have a physical machine that I wanted to dedicate to the task and the alpha releases were known not to work in Virtual Box (my virtual PC software of choice).
The beta release fixed that problem so I loaded it up a month ago… looks nice.
However the Guest Additions in Virtual Box 1.6.6 didn’t work properly with it… so I was limited to a small screen and a mouse that got ‘captured’ by the window everytime I went and clicked in there. Not exactly encouraging me to investigate it further.
Simultaneously, Virtual Box got an upgrade to version 2. Major new feature: the ability to host 64-bit guests – the previous versions could only run 32-bit guests, even if your host machine was 64-bit.
As with any major new release, Virtual Box 2.0.0 appeared to have a couple of issues and it wasn’t clear whether the first bug-fix release, 2.0.2, had cleared them all up. I’m in the middle of two high-workload Java courses at the moment and I use a Virtual Box virtual machine for testing that my homework deploys correctly before I submit it so I couldn’t afford any downtime.. if I upgraded to version 2 it had to work. So of course I restrain those eager fingers and keep working with the setup that keeps working.
Meanwhile I’ve been keeping my virtual copy of Ubuntu 8.10 patched and up to date on a daily basis. It’s been very interesting watching all the patches come along – sometimes as many as 100MB in a single day.
And then they stopped. As of (I think) the end of Monday I don’t think I’ve seen any new patches. Sounds to me like they’re finished! Yes, I know release isn’t until Friday but the Release Candidate was last Friday and you don’t expect to be throwing out changes to that right up to the wire. So I think that what we’ve got now is probably the Real Deal.
Last night I stopped by the Virtual Box website… 2.0.4 just released with more bug-fixes and support for Ubuntu 8.10. I couldn’t resist. As you can probably tell I’m writing this in 8.10 under Virtual Box right now.
Yes the new GIMP made it in, no the new Open Office didn’t. You don’t need me to run down all the new features – there’s lots of info out there, but some items of interest include
- The new network manager. Hopefully I’ll find it easier to work with than the old one.
- The guest session. Creates a new Home directory in /tmp and switches to that without logging you out – great for passing your machine to someone else when you’re still in the middle of doing something.
- Personal encrypted directory. Sounds interesting but haven’t played with it yet.
- New Pidgin. I’m a big Pidgin user for chat and IRC so I’m looking forward to the new version. For a time there was talk of replacing it as the default chat client in this release. One cute feature – it integrates into the user-switcher applet.
- New Samba. I always have issues with Windows file sharing – I know it’s actually easy but it never seems to be that way for me. Hopefully this will make my life easier.
- And of course new Gnome, X and kernels. Should all help to make this the most user-friendly and stable release yet.
In some ways it’s very pleasant but in some ways it’s slightly underwhelming. And that’s a good thing. There’s no smack-you-in-the-face major change to the desktop, just lots of things that’ll make your life easier and more robust.
I’m really looking forward to upgrading my desktop for real… I just need to find a time when I can afford to possibly be without a computer for half a day – not that I expect that to happen… just that I’d rather err on the side of caution. And my schedule suggests that that won’t be until the beginning of December. I don’t think I can wait that long!