Archive for the ‘linux’ Category

Kubuntu 8.04 – two months later

July 6, 2008

Two months later after my first blog about Ubuntu, I am still using it.

My main use cases are office/browser/messenger (open office text, PDF view) and software development using Java (Eclipse, Netbeans). For software development reasons, I have few virtual machines within VMWare Server.

In two months I found lot of issues, some I managed to solve, some I can live with.

  • sometimes the system “freezes”. Any attempt to run sudo hangs. Reboot doesn’t work either. I have no idea why is this happening, although I suspect the network driver (Marvell Libertas / ndiswrapper).
  • sometimes the network connection drops and does not restore. It is again the network driver.
  • After a kernel or module update, the proprietary NVidia driver looses it’s settings. It seems the Package Manager of Ubuntu is unable to acknowledge that another X Server is installed.
  • Sometimes the available patches are out of sync, they cannot install. It seems in the same time are available conflicting versions of various packages.
  • I use KDE 4. The task bar becomes sometimes “fuzzy”. It fails to paint properly. The clock also shows unreadable digits.
  • ndiswrapper seems to be very sensitive: installing a Xen enabled kernel hangs the computer forever.

I think my problems will end when:

  • the wireless will be replaced by wired network (or I buy another wireless card, compatible with Linux)
  • Replacement of the video card. Two GeForce 9800 GX2 are on the way for a high performance computation project. At the end of the project I will use one of them as a graphic card, although this will require a power supply upgrade.

For these reasons, I strongly believe that Linux and particulary Ubuntu is not for the business users. Even if I am able to solve an issue, I will be unwilling and unable to solve it under pressure. More, the observed impact of the patches seems more aggresive than the impact of patches from the operating systems built in Redmond.

If you still plan to use Linux for business workstations (meaning – a large network of office computers, front line computers, etc), you may want to:

  • Use Linux certified hardware only (this will reduce the spectrum of choice and most of the certified hardware are more expensive than the average).
  • use a patch management tool to give you the ability to test the patches before sending it to your computers. Since most of the failures are hardware related, you should be able to test for all the hardware you own. Although such tools exist for Microsoft Windows, I have no idea who produces a patch management tool for Ubuntu.

[K]ubuntu 8.04

April 28, 2008

Last week I have installed Kubuntu 8.04 on my machine. And I have got a pleasant surprise. First time in my life, all hardware are functional after a Linux installation. My wireless card, Marvell Libertas based, required ndiswrapper, which was not on the installation CD (it’s supposed to download the driver of the network card), and I installed it manually with a memory stick.

Next, the nVidia Geforce 7 card (on the motherboard) required nVidia “proprietary” drivers. Since it works, I don’t see an issue with the lack of open source drivers.

The big surprise was the sound card, not recognized by other older distributions; no configuration was required and it “simply worked” after disabling the KDE sound manager.

Enabling Compiz under newly installed video driver was also easy and near the window effects I could find some useful shortcuts, such as full screen for any window. Also fonts are looking better rendered than with the standard VGA driver and the controls show more responsive.  Some other “Vista-like” candies like 3D window / desktop switching are also there.

No operating system is useful without applications. Kubuntu has two package managers, which seem very developer friendly. I could install Apache Maven, Sun Java SDK and Subversion and Eclipse with no effort, I have just queried the package database. This was _much_ easier than doing it under Windows, under normal circumstances.

So for a Java developer I think Linux is a better choice because of:

– zero cost of the operating system

– easy to install all the needed tools

– availability of major IDEs (Eclipse or Netbeans)

– availability of server applications (most if not all of the J2EE servers run on Linux as well)

– database servers available – Oracle, MySQL, Postgresql

Of course, there are also reasons to use Windows:

– Microsoft SQL Server, runs on Windows only

– .Net platform (this belongs actually to .net developers)

– you have hardware which does not works under Linux

So my conclusion are:

– installing Linux is faster then installing Windows

– installing Linux is more difficult than installing Windows, if you are unlucky with the hardware. If you are really unlucky with the hardware or simply not skilled enough, you may have no chance to make it run.

– installing developer tools is much easier and faster under Linux