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Xubuntu Edgy

I installed Xubuntu Edgy on my primary desktop today, replacing Debian Testing.

I was quite stubborn about this change, always finding some excuse to stick with Debian, but ultimately I just got to the point where the pros of switching to Ubuntu outweighted the cons. Plus I wanted to check out Thunar! After years of not using a GUI file manager I’ve discovered some of their virtues after using(of all things!) Windows, to sort some photos (the Canon Rebel that we have only dumps it’s pictures out in Windows).

First things first, I went back and forth about whether I’d go with the server install and then install X and everything myself or if I wanted to just happy-click-through the Xubuntu install. Since I’d done the server install a bunch of times on my laptop, I decided to go for the full Xubuntu experience.

So, the installer. I still hate the default Ubuntu installer, with it’s “load up an entire LiveCD with a GUI and double click on the installer to install on your harddrive” thing. I am not sure I’ll ever warm up to it, I almost downloaded the alternate CD instead just so I could use the old Debian text-based installer.

I also don’t like the partitioning tool they use when you say “edit the partition table yourself” – it doesn’t work the way I want it to. I REALLY didn’t want to wipe out my Windows install (Michael has a lot of stuff configured on his user account over there). When it came down to it, I honestly didn’t know what it was going to do when I asked it to commit the changes, it didn’t give me a nice, concise summary. Luckily it did what I wanted, Windows booted fine after the install.

Once the install was finished I booted up into my shiny new Xubuntu, logged in via gdm, and XFCE4 came up – sort of. IT LOOKED LIKE GNOME! I was pretty shocked by this change, and immediately started clicking through menus to get it back to the good old xfce that I love.

Just a quick note about the bootup though, I don’t like having a pretty screen with a status window booting up and not telling me what it’s doing, I like to see all that crap about loading modules and starting services. I need to figure out how to make me show that stuff.

Ubuntu doesn’t know about my nvidia card per se by default, so I had to follow these instructions to get 3D acceleration and higher resolutions. It worked reasonably well, I needed to boot into a different kernel after some upgrades and it all came out alright, I have my 1200×1600 resolution back.

Firefox 2 is nice.

I haven’t got to poke around with Thunar much yet, but what I’ve seen after loading it up once has been nice, I am looking forward to playing with it more.

Once I had XFCE4 sorted out and looking like it should, I really like it too, very slick!

I installed mplayer on my system using my mplayer instructions for Debian and it worked flawlessly – very nice!

Then I updated my fstab so I could mount all the SMB shares in the house, edited my interfaces file so my IP would be static, and did a bunch of other housekeeping tasks to get my system running properly. I absolutely LOVE that Ubuntu acts like Debian, the system files are in the right places and I just use my Debian brains to put things where they need to be.

I’m not so sure about gdm. I’ve been resisting a graphical login screen for years, but what do I do when I boot up my computer? Login as my user at the terminal & startx. Why not give gdm a try? Well, it’s bloated, and does goofy things like not resizing fonts properly when you change your resolution. When I stopped the service I was happy to be plopped back down at the command line. gdm might have to go, but I guess I’ll see how it goes.

So am I unhappy with the change? Not at all! The great thing about Linux is that I can change everything I complained about – I can use the old installer if I want (which comes with the better partitioning tool), I can change how XFCE looks, I can stop using GDM if I want, I can make the OS show me what it’s doing on bootup. I can’t say the same thing for Windows.

Having new packages is nice, we’ll see how stability and all goes over these next few weeks.