Posted by: redwinedrummer | October 21, 2007

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon First Impressions

It took me a while to upgrade from 7.04 to 7.10 because Ubuntu servers were so busy. It would even time-out at times. But now it’s done, Gutsy Gibbon is turning out to be a very solid release. I’ve been using Ubuntu since 6.04 and it has definitely gone a long way!

What made me excited with the new release is the updated Compiz. It doesn’t only make your desktop flashy and attractive, but it also has its significant usability advantages. The Expo, flipping windows, improved desktop cube and fold-out are all amazing! There are aesthetic touches such as reflections, wiggles and fades. They all add a very attractive touch to the desktop. Plus the Advanced Compiz Config opens up a ton of other possibilities to personalize Compiz.

The quick user switcher and deskbar applet are very useful, too. The user switcher gives a more personalized feeling by adding your name to the desktop. My only complaint with the deskbar applet is that you cannot select multiple links. If I search for “ATI Crossfire”, for example, I can only choose one search entry. But what if I want to search it in Google, Yahoo! and Wikipedia? I have to use the applet thrice.

The new NTFS write capability is extremely helpful. This makes switching from Windows much easier.

Now, down to the gritty stuff.

On my Acer Aspire 4520G notebook, Gutsy worked well, but there were some caveats.

1. Audio

Audio, like in Feisty Fawn, did not work with Gutsy Gibbon. I modified my /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base file and added “options snd-hda-intel model=toshiba index=0″ but did not do anything. I ended up downloading ALSA 1.0.15 from source and compiling it from there. No luck.

I did a little research on the problem, and it turns out that Ubuntu is switching from PulseAudio to Esound. So I downloaded and installed Esound packages from apt. Recompile/reinstall ALSA for assurance of “freshness”, set the default sound card in asoundconf, and reboot. Viola! Audio! Complete with system sounds and flash audio.

A bug has been reported that there are still times when there is no audio, despite having complete ALSA and esound packages. Hopefully this is resolved soon.

2. Web Cam

Web cam support improved with Gutsy. Kopete finally detects the Acer CrystalEye web cam and it works online! It still doesn’t work with Camorama. I have to find luvcview for an alternative.

If the web cam does not work with you, try adding your user to the “video” group. An inspection with “ls -l /dev/video0″ indicates that the web cam is in the group “video”. Also try adding a user to the “admin” and “superdev” group if that doesn’t work.

3. Video

The new Restricted Drivers Manager does not feel solid. I still used Envy to install the latest drivers (and enjoy Compiz!). But it works with the Nvidia 8400M G.

4. Dial-up Modem

Still does not work. If I’m not mistaken, the modem for the Aspire 4520G is a softmodem. And I can’t seem to find good drivers to make it work. Device is undetected.

5. Wireless Device

This one is inconclusive. I upgraded from 7.04 to 7.10 with ndiswrapper and wpa_supplicant installed and working. So I can’t really say if the wireless is working because of 7.10 or because of the pre-existing ndiswrapper and wpa_supplicant installations. I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to do a fresh install. If you would like to share your findings, then feel free to.

However, checking the Network section, apparently network-manager now supports WPA and WPA2. That’s very good! Lack of WPA/2 support in 7.04 was abysmal.

There is still no support for the hadware switch and LED.

6. Bluetooth

Bluetooth has been working well since 7.04. It’s just that in Ubuntu, you need different programs to send and receive files. This gets confusing and cluttered.

7. Memory Card Reader – Untested

8. CD-Drive

The CD-Drive works very well. It can burn files without a fuss, but reading some DVDs can get stubborn.

Gutsy Gibbon for my desktop is pretty much useless because Ubuntu doesn’t support the ATI HD2600XTs yet. The restricted driver manager has dated drivers. Consequently, I can’t even get the correct resolution, colors and Compiz with the generic Vesa drivers. There are new HD2000 exclusive drivers from ATI, but I don’t have the time and skill to install them properly. I’ll just wait for an update from Alberto Milone or Ubuntu themselves. I don’t use my desktop Ubuntu much, anyway.

Audio (Creative Audigy 4) works right out of the box with 7.10. No need to point asoundconf to the right direction. This is not surprising as the Audigy cards have been around for a long time.

As long as the video drivers are not straightened out, I won’t be using Ubuntu 7.10 on my desktop.

In a nutshell, 7.10 is an impressive update, but of course, has its caveats. As far as my Ubuntu experience goes, Ubuntu has gone a very long way. There are so many significant improvements and changes that turns Ubuntu into an even more wonderful operating system.

I have gained so much more confidence in Ubuntu as a stand-alone operating system with Gutsy Gibbon. If you’re looking for an introduction to the Linux world, Ubuntu 7.10 is a very good place to start! Seasoned veterans would hopefully find 7.10 as a fun, expansive and secure update to the system.

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Responses

  1. Very nice review!

  2. Sounds like a nice product though I think a little more attention to detail would be good. I think, in comparison with the new Apple OS there is just too many little glitches and problems with Linux for it to be my first choice.
    Thanks for the great review.

  3. MegZaz,

    That’s true. Every OS has its quirks, but Ubuntu is slowly, but surely improving itself to reach as many people. And the fact that Ubuntu is free and accessible makes it a very good alternative to Windows and OS X.

    Thanks for dropping by!


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