Forgive me… for I have installed Ubuntu (and my linux history)

It’s not secret I’m a huge linux geek. At one time or another I’ve installed/tested/used about 80-90 of distrowatch’s 100 linux distrobutions list. We do have one primary install of a microsoft product in this house (vista on my wife’s laptop) every computer in this house has some form of linux installed on it and on all but that one, linux is the primary operating system.

You must realize that I’ve got a ton of computers…. right now in the living room I have this computer (more on that later) and two laptops (one of which no longer functions as a laptop, more a 1U server (removed LCD when it died).

Being a Linux geek from way back I have a different ‘respect’ for some things in the FOSS world. I’m a network/sysadmin guy not a programmer. Not that it has anything to to do with this story… but I like telling people I’m not a programmer every chance I get.

My desktop distro has long been Fedora (formerly Red Hat). I’ve used nearly everything but my day to day primary desktop has always been Red Hat/Fedora. If I recall correctly, I jumped on the Red Hat wagon around RH6 which would have been about ten years ago as I think RH6 was around ’99. (wow…. I’m getting old). Before that I was playing with a wide mix of operating systems. I was in high school and had been working for the working for the Federal Goverment in telecommunications for about a year (most of that year was spent more on the webdev side). So I was seeing Unix and some mainframe stuff at work and playing with a few ‘amost an OS’ packages at home. I can’t remember all the names but most were just DOS Graphical Interfaces. Actually one of the packages I can recall was Seal. I haven’t run that since it first came out. But I remembered it was one of the better ones I played with. Google is a great friend and gave me the above link. I’ll have to throw it on a DOS box and really be nostaglic. Maybe I can find a copy of Carrier Command too.

Where was I? So since I became an official Red Hat Junkie at RH6 I’ve stayed with it. I’ve run every version of Red Hat, Fedora Core, Fedora that’s been released. For the Server side of things when Red Hat started RHEL I started using the community build version of RHEL CentOS. CentOS is my server choice. For special projects/solutions I’ll use other distro’s i.e. gentoo (for it’s speed on low end boxes- gentoo is always a favorite) or just build linux from scratch for crazy minimalist builds.

So… I’ve told you all of this just to give you give you the impression that I really mean it when I say I’m a long time linux geek. (But I’m not a programmer — hehe, snuck another one in).

I don’t hate any particular linux distro. Or rather…. I don’t hate people who like other linux distros. There are some distros out there that should be moved to /dev/null But if you like a linux distro, and it works for you.. More power to ya. There are some linux enthusaists who think Ubuntu is the devils own distro. And there are some obnoixious noob’s out there who don’t know the difference between ubuntu and linux, either not aware that there other very popular distro’s or not inteligent enough to use them so they totally disregard them. Hmm… this seems harsh. I recommend Ubuntu all the time. friends, family, coworkers, strangers. Ubuntu is #1 on my list of best linux distro’s to use if you’ve never used a linux distro and you’re not computer savy. But Ubuntu is further down the list of my “best linux distro” list. Doesn’t mean Ubuntu isn’t a good operating system. Doesn’t mean that a power user or linux idol couldn’t use Ubuntu and make it do everything they want it to do. Just means I don’t prefer it as much as others. But it is the easiest to install and get 100% working and usable.

So I built a new computer… My previous desktop box has been promoted to a secondary server (with centOS) and I went about getting my new computer going.

This computer is an ASUS motherboard with an AMD 9950 Quad Core Processor, Four gigabytes of 1066mhz DDR2 ram and currently running the integrated Nvidia 8300 graphics. (which works suprisingly well for integrated graphics). A 250GB Seagate SATA HD for the Operating system and two 500GB SATA HDs for data and virutal machine images. I built this computer with my primary use in mind, I do a ton, of virtualization. Either Xen or Virtualbox (normally virtual box on my desktop) I’m constantly testing distro’s, testing window’s antivirus/security software, testing software… well testing and playing with a crazy number of virtual machines. I’m not 100% done with the computer as I will be adding a graphics card and throwing in another four gigs of ram at some point.

I threw vista on long enough to see how it’d run, so I’d have a comparison to my virtual vista/xp. then set out installing Fedora 9. Fedora 9 was stable so long as I didn’t do any updates. šŸ™ But the chipset/audio wasn’t recognized and a few other bugs required an upgrade. Going to fedora 9 full updates fixed most issues except introduced a USB problem. USB would randomly stop working and the nvidia graphics drivers would have occasional issues on reboot. So I upgraded to rawhide (fedora dev) and while the usb issue got fixed (mostly) the nvidia drivers issue got worse. So I thought I’d leave the nvidia drivers out and use the “nv” driver. That seemed to work depending on the day but my computer was dreadfully slow and no 3d.

I decided to try the Fedora 10 beta snapshot. Out of the box the X server wouldn’t start. Not a good sign. I spent some time on the command line, I like it there anyway. I got X running a couple of times but it wasn’t stable with either the nv or nvidia drivers. I thought it was a Fedora thing, and was really getting annoyed. I tried a few other distros and ran into the same sort of issues. Seems some of the transitional stuff in recent developments really doesn’t like my system. After trying several other distros Ubuntu (hardy) seemed to install with the most working hardware. (the 8.10 beta wouldn’t even completly boot to the installer ). After a full update everything was still working. (for the most part). I installed the nvidia restricted driver and it broke X. Tried for a while to fix it then resorted back to “nv” and found a suggestion for envyNG. With a little work, that got me working. I still have issues… but I think all of those will be resolved with the releae of Fedora 10 or Ubuntu 8.10. All of the fixes are availible (it seems) they just don’t work at the same time. I’m a command line guy, none of my servers have graphical desktops… so I’m most comfortable there. I know enough about X to be dangerous, but quite frankly it does what I want it to do with very little help so I’m not current on it. My main problem left is my Nvidia HD audio has a ton of static on it. As I recall I’ve seen a fix for that too, but I’ve got an extra sound card in so I haven’t looked into it that much.

So… I’ve installed, and currently using Ubuntu. Now that I’ve found a little more info about it I’m sure I could get Fedora up and running stable. This wasn’t a distro problem and ubuntu wasnt the fix, just the distro I had installed when I figured out how to bypass my issues with the kernel/xorg/nvidia/hardware not cooperting at the same time. But I don’t have much time to spend on my desktop at the moment, so it’s working, I’ll leave it be…. I’ll use Ubuntu for a few weeks until Fedora 10 launches and life can return to normal. My virtual box images won’t mind. šŸ™‚ so long as I don’t look at the distro logos, It’s just gnome. šŸ™‚

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