Ubuntu: Feisty Fawn vs. Gutsy Gibbons

Ubuntu has recently become my favorite Linux distro among competitors such as Redhat, Fedora, Mandrake, SUSE and DSL. I’ve found that Ubuntu offers more support from the community than any of the other distros that I mentioned and also have great support for a wide variety of hardware vendors. For example, I found myself frustrated with Fedora Core 6 (Zod) when I installed it on my HP Pavilion dv4000 laptop. The main problem was getting my wireless card working..or should I say finding drivers to install to get it working. With Ubuntu I noticed right away that my wireless card was working from the live disk alone! I hadn’t even installed Ubuntu yet, just put in the install disk and booted up to it and my wireless card was working and as it should have with Fedora after installing.

I installed Ubuntu on my desktop with slight difficulty. Mainly, it would install fine, but Grub would not work properly. I have two hard drives in my desktop, both Sata drives. One is a 300GB drive that I use to install Windows Vista Ultimate x64 and Ubuntu x64 on with ~290GB and ~10GB respectively. The second hard drive is a 750GB drive that I use for storage. I found that Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) and maybe earlier versions do not install Grub well to dual boot on the same hard drive with another drive connected. For some reason it just won’t find the partitions to boot. A simple fix for this was to open the tower and simply unplug the 750GB drive from power and the board (while the power was off of course 😉 ). After eliminating this drive, Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) installed just fine! Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbons) seems to install with no problems from the 750GB drive so you most likely will not need to disconnect your extra hard drive to install this one. Now let me get into the comparisons..

Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn)
Feisty Fawn is the code name for this specific release of Ubuntu which was released in April 2007 or 2007 April..7.04. Feisty Fawn is currently a very stable release. It has had plenty of time to receive deep testing from Alpha testers, Beta tester and to the general public and most all of the haunting bugs have been patched and repaired so it is a release that you can count on. Performance is great. It’s a snappy release that is highly customizable and easy to get used to after switching from Windows (like I did). Granted, this transition may be more difficult for others, however, once you find the applications that you need you’ll quickly learn that it can perform any task that you needed in Windows and possibly in a more efficient and easy way.

All hardware was detected properly and worked from installation. The only tweak that I had to make to my machine was enabling restricted drivers (nVidia graphics drivers) so that I could take full advantage of my dual screen display. After that it was just add/remove programs from a huge list of available packages. Anything from games to text editors to media players and tools to Beryl, etc.

Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbons)
Just like Ubuntu 7.04, Ubuntu 7.10 has a code name..in this case Gutsy Gibbons. It was first released in August 2007 and has just recently been publicized as a “Stable” release. When I first saw that Gutsy Gibbons had become stable, I received a notification from my update manager in Feisty Fawn and decided to just upgrade from the manager. I would now recommend that if you want to upgrade from Feisty Fawn to Gutsy Gibbons..just do a clean install. My upgrade encountered numerous errors and was forced to quit only after half-way upgrading my system. This left my Ubuntu os unusable and forced me to manually reinstall. I would suggest backing up your documents and any other saved material that you will want later to a disk or jump drive, then do a fresh install over your Ubuntu partition and move your data back. That being said, I would also suggest waiting to let Gutsy Gibbons receive more testing from the general public if you plan on using it as your main desktop. I quickly ran into a problem with video drivers not working properly for nVidia and also read many forums talking about ATI video cards have similar problems. I was encountering random freezes that would sometimes return to normal, but most of the time just lock up the entire computer. Apparently the drivers are not yet stable. I’ll keep you updated when they have become stable enough to use, however, for now I have reinstalled Feisty Fawn so I can use my pc. There are several people complaining about these problems, but who knows..you might not ever encounter them.

With the update, I did notice that the layout had changed a little and several personal folders had been added such as Pictures, Documents, Music, etc. The icons got a small update as well as the mouse cursors. NTFS-3G had been installed and enabled by default to allow reading and writing to NTFS drives with ease. This means you can access your Windows partitions and save files to those drives by default now! If you liked using Beryl in Feisty Fawn to get cool desktop effects such as a rotating cube to switch between work spaces and wobbly windows then you’ll be happy to know that Gutsy Gibbons has all of these features installed by default. There is no longer a need to manually install Beryl, just drop down your System->Preferences menu and click on appearance!

Finally
Gutsy Gibbons definitely takes first place over Feisty Fawn, however, I’ve decided that until Gutsy Gibbons is cleaned up and patched up a little more, I’ll just have to stick with a release that has been through all of the stages already and I can count on.

If you are interested in downloading Ubuntu to give it a try, just go to Ubuntu.com. It is completely free and easy to use!

Installing Pidgin in Linux from Source

pidginAs many Linux users know by now, Gaim has been renamed for a second time to Pidgin due to legal issues with AOL over the use of ‘AIM’. Many distros of Linux operating systems still distribute the popular messenger client in older versions that are still under the title Gaim. I’m not the kind of person to use outdated software, so updating to Pidgin was one of the first things that I did when I made the move from Windows Vista to Ubuntu. I found the task to be a bit more lengthy than I had intended.

Most distros have communities that contribute packages that can install applications in a one step process by gathering all dependencies that are needed and installing them with the application. However, the great site that I’ve found for Debian packages seems to have a few packages lagging behind. I can’t have that. Who wants to install an older version of software than what is currently offered on the applications official site? Unfortunately there are no Debian packages available from Pidgin. That is not a problem! First things first:

  • Go to your Add or Remove application and completely remove anything associated with Gaim.
  • Open a terminal and install the following dev packages with the following commands (*The following terminal commands are for APT software package management systems. To use these commands with a different package manager you need to edit the syntax accordingly):
    • sudo apt-get install libglib2.0-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev
    • sudo aptitude install libnss-dev
    • sudo apt-get install libgtk2.0-dev
  • Go to www.Pidgin.im and download the source package.
  • Extract the source package and navigate to the folder that the files were extracted to in a terminal window.
  • You now need to configure and build Pidgin from the source files. Use the following commands in the terminal window to successfully configure Pidgin for your platform:
    • sudo ./configure
    • sudo make
    • sudo make install
  • Pidgin should now be successfully installed on your computer! You can now delete the source files that you downloaded from www.Pidgin.im.

If you experienced any problems while trying to follow this guide, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to help out. Always use Google.com to search for error messages before seeking help from others. Your questions are most likely already answered somewhere!

Fedora 7 Released!

FedoraProject.org has now released an update to the Fedora family. The previous version, Fedora Core 6, has been much improved upon..evolving it into what is now just ‘Fedora 7‘. They seem to have grown tired of ‘Core’..or preferred a shorter name. With each new version comes a new theme. Fedora 7 comes with the all new’Flying High’ theme installed by default.

fedora Boot up screen.
fedora Login screen.
fedora Default desktop.

Release highlights can be found here.