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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Mon, 25 Jul 2011

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS -- I like it better now than I did then

I'm doing an update today on my daughter's Ubuntu 10.04 LTS-running Gateway Solo 1450, the 2002-era laptop that I upgraded from 8.04 in a not-seamless but doable operation for someone with a bit of experience in these matters.

I've done a lot of upgrades. I'd say maybe half were successful. That doesn't say much for upgrades. But when it comes to Ubuntu upgrades, I can generally make them work with a bit of Googling.

I've been hard on Ubuntu 10.04 over the life of the release. (I could find links, but I'm just going to keep writing.) While the UI changes in 11.04 (GNOME giving way to Unity) are bigger, I thought the changes from 9.10 to 10.04 were too huge and unproven for an LTS release. My opinion was and is that 10.04 needed to be 9.10 with bug fixes and not a total reworking of the GNOME theme with buttons on the other side of the screen and lots of unproven, slightly broken Ubuntu-coded (or -ordered) enhancements.

By this I mean UbuntuOne -- not nearly as useful as the cross-platform Dropbox; the "Me Menu," with the many problems I had getting it to work at all and the huge amount of CPU being taken by it's various components, not to mention the disk-space issues that have since surfaced with social-media client Gwibber (which seemingly never removes anything from its database), and that client being less than ideal in its functionality in many other ways.

These are things that should have remained in a development release and not been inserted in a long-term-support release. But between six-month cycles there is no development branch of Ubuntu. Every six months the changes are part of the release, and you use it and like it. Or not.

As I say above, I've made my peace with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, and as the months have passed I've grown to like it. Compared to my main OS, Debian Squeeze, it's dead easy to get multimedia working in Ubuntu. You don't have to add repos and guess at what you need to install. It's all pretty much a click away. The PPA system of adding newer packages is growing by leaps and bounds. While PPAs may not be as secure and "vetted" as Debian Backports, the PPA ecosystem gives Ubuntu users so many options that on the whole it's a win for the community.

I have the one Ubuntu 10.04 installation. I neither use nor activate UbuntuOne or the social-media aspects of the desktop. I actually like the way everything looks. It's a solid performer. I haven't had to do a reinstall or major upgrade since I did the upgrade from 8.04 LTS on this particular machine.

While I prefer Debian on my main laptop, I could be happy running this Ubuntu release. I might not be using it now on more than one machine, but as before, it's nice to know that the Ubuntu LTS is there when you want or need it.