Ubuntu 8.04 to 8.10 upgrade.

A lot of commentators in the blogosphere have shown disappointment at the fact that little seems to have changed with Ubuntu 8.10. My answer to them is that in fact a lot has changed, but not much of it is visible. To my mind a lot of these under-the-hood changes have addressed fundamental issues which needed to be fixed as a priority, so that normal users could just get on with the business of using Linux, rather than scrabbling around in config files.

Also, Ubuntu has an aggressive schedule, which means release are made every 6 months. I believe the purpose of the April (.04) releases is to introduce new features, and the October (.10) release is to refine them and fix any breaks. Compare this approach to Windows or Macintosh, where releases are made around every three years, and you can appreciate that releasing little and often means that changes are more diffuse and less apparent.

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Getting Wireless to work on a Dell Vostro 1400

Having spent hours tinkering with getting Ubuntu’s wireless to work on at least three previous Thinkpads, before I bought this Vostro I did some research around the internet. I found a bunch of happy Vostro 1400 Ubuntu 8.04 users, and the fact that Dell was releasing Ubuntu on some of its other machines. Good signs. However it seems that the hardware specs between Vostro 1400s vary depending on where and when they’re manufactured, so I think that research might have been misleading.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to get wireless working on and off for the last 3 or 4 weeks, and I’m almost there, so I thought I’d share my experiences.

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All Change. Mandriva 2008 to Ubuntu 8.04

As I noted in a previous post I was recently the victim of a Random Kernel Upgrade Hell (RKUH). Maybe I should trademark that acronym, although its not particularly prounounceable like SNAFU, or PEBCAK. Anyway … the fact was that I was spending several hours trying to fix various problems with wifi drivers, VMware server, truecrypt and the sound in Skype, when it suddenly occured to me that a re-install was probably quicker. The double edged sword of Linux: quick to reinstall, but then again why should you need to do it so often? Well I guess in my case I push the OS pretty hard with some esoteric applications, but even so …

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Big Switch 5: Unplugged

So now I had all the software installed and working correctly I could catch up with work, and just get used to using Linux on a day to day basis. I also had the security of a fully functional Windows installation to fall back on, should everything go wrong, or should I have forgotten to copy something across.

But up until now, I’d only been using a Wired connection. The built-in wireless on my Thinkpad R51e didn’t work with Ubuntu, and a few attempts to fix it were not rewarded with success. I decided to wait until I had a weekend free to sort it all out. In the interim, if I needed wireless, I had a Buffalo Airport PCMCIA card which worked perfectly when I plugged it in.

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