Feeling Feisty

Volume 10, Issue 25; 01 Apr 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Moving up to the latest Ubuntu.

The return of my laptop from IBM warranty repair (another positive experience; I got an empty box on Tuesday, I got my laptop back on Thursday), coincided almost perfectly with the release of Ubuntu's 7.04 Beta “Feisty Fawn”.

Given that I'd already made a complete backup and cobbled together a working alternative system on my desktop box, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to upgrade.

I chose to do a complete, clean install from the beta CD, rather than upgrading my current system, though the upgrade path worked just fine on the desktop box (I had upgraded that a day or two before my laptop's fan failed).

The install went smoothly and everything continues to “just work” with Ubuntu. Congrats to everyone involved. Feisty comes with newer versions of all the applications and libraries, of course, but cosmetically it's very similar to Edgy.

One big difference: it seems like Gnome finally has easy-to-use wifi. Over the years, I've always been able to get wifi working on my various laptops. It used to be really hard, but recently it's been pretty straightforward. It's never been as easy and obvious as it should be, though. Starting with Feisty, I get a little task bar applet for wifi. Clicking on it gives a drop-down list of available networks. Choosing one does the right thing, even with WEP encrypted networks. Nice.

For the record, here's the stuff I had to do after installing.

  • Tell the window manager that activation-follows-mouse. Tell Gnome to use Emacs key bindings. Tell the power manager to suspend when the laptop lid is closed.

  • Install emacs.

  • Download, compile, and install the latest bleeding-edge Fvwm. Ok, I probably didn't have to do this step, but I did.

  • Fight with the crypto setup. Somewhere in the middle of the Edgy release, the disk encryption stuff got updated in a way that interacted badly with USplash. That seems to have been fixed in Feisty, but now cryptsetup will only ask for a password once. My disk encryption passwords are long enough that I don't always get them right on the first try. I fought with the standard tools for a while, then just wrote my own script to mount the disks at boot time.

  • Download, compile, and install DSPAM. I have never been able to make heads or tails of the Ubuntu packaged version. My guess is that it's designed to be installed in some multi-user configuration that exceeds my needs, but I can't figure out where or how. I do know how to build it for my own use, so I just did that.

  • Tinker with the Apache configuration. Unfortunately, this involves downloading and compiling the source because I have to tinker with the suexec parameters. For convenience, I want my home directory to be allowed as a docroot.

  • Restore my Crontab.

  • Restore all the local Java packages I have installed in /usr/local/java (Ant, Jena, Jing, MSV, Saxon, Trang, etc.).

  • Install ruby and friends.

  • Install a bunch of Perl modules.

  • Tinker with xorg.conf to get my dual screen system back.

I was going to report that all is well, but I just noticed that Gaim is segfaulting. Oh, well. It's only a beta…


Your feed entry, "Feeling feisty... Moving up to the latest Ubuntu." cracked me up.

A+ in the art of creating feed excerpts.

—Posted by Shelley on 02 Apr 2007 @ 07:02 UTC #

I'm already running network-manager in Dapper, and was wondering if that would conflict with whatever's native, when first upgrading to Edgy, and then to Feisty.

Since my laptop (originally installed with Breezy in February 2006, and upgraded to Dapper sometime during the summer) basically works, I've avoided upgrading. But I guess if I don't upgrade soon, I'll be stuck in Dapper-land.

—Posted by Steinar Bang on 04 Apr 2007 @ 09:16 UTC #

Yes, Steinar, it's nm-applet. "About" tells me that it's NetworkManager Applet 0.6.4.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 04 Apr 2007 @ 11:00 UTC #

Ok. Now I'm feeling Feisty too.

I did the upgrade from Dapper to Edgy, tried out Edgy for half an hour, to see if thing worked. Some did, some (eg. WLAN) didn't.

Then I started the upgrade to Feisty. It went without a hitch. The first thing that struck me was how much smoother everything was. Everything mission critical, including WLAN and VPNC, through nm-applet, worked. For the Broadcom WLAN NIC (traditionally a problem in linux) I got a newer bcm43xx driver, and it downloaded and installed new firmware for the card automatically.

Some things did not work; google earth, and VMWare. The VMWare problem was fixed by commenting out a single line in a header in the VMWare module source. For Google Earth I ended up with throwing out the closed source fglrx driver for the ATI Radeon Mobility card, and using the open aiglx driver insted. This eventually got google earth started but running slooowly. Turns out there is a bug with the driver for the r300 chip wrt. to google earth. But for other things, eg. Beryl, the aiglx driver works a lot better (and the fglrx driver did not work for me at all in this incarnation).

So win some, lose some. Good WLAN is a lot more important for me than google earth. And leaving the fglrx driver behind I may be able to use my laptop for presentations again (I lost external VDU output with fglrx).

So I'm happy with this upgrade. And very impressed at how smooth the two stage upgrade turned out to be.

—Posted by Steinar Bang on 05 May 2007 @ 07:08 UTC #