Ubuntu 7.10: A Brief Out-of-Box Experience

Ubuntu 7.10, live CD - and with only a single snafu!

Ubuntu 7.10, live CD - and with only a single snafu!

Update: It seems the ENE card reader (CB-712/4) in my Acer Aspire 5100-5674 doesn’t work too well after all. Two of my 256mb SD (Secure Digital) cards mount / work just fine; my 2gb SD card mounts, but gives me I/O errors whenever I try to copy to or from it. I have yet to receive any feedback concerning the problem, so I can only assume the Linux ENE drivers don’t yet (properly) support SD cards larger than 256mb(?).

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Preliminary thoughts on Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon): a reasonably worthwhile upgrade, if not for the security fixes, then for the under-the-hood updates, as well as the fabulous software repository. And GNOME 2.20.

Wireless / video card configuration is now as simple as checking a pair of boxes in the “restricted drivers” dialog—if you’re savvy enough to figure out that that’s what you need to do. Unfortunately, GNOME isn’t very helpful in this respect. Upon first logging in, a panel icon informed me, erroneously, that both my wired and wireless connections were enabled; this didn’t necessarily mean that I was able to go online. It turns out I first had to enable the appropriate “restricted drivers” for my Broadcom chipset—but before I could do that, I had to make sure there was a working Internet connection (read: catch-22!), and I had to enable the proper repository.

Time for some menu-hunting

Then I could enable the restricted / illegal / immoral drivers in question. For moderately experienced Linux users, the process is a yawn; for newbies, a pop-up box or informational tool-tip would be of great benefit. Better yet: A clear, concise “getting started” sheet. Maybe that will come in a future Ubuntu release…

As with Ubuntu 7.04, my laptop’s sound system (Realtek HD Audio) works great with 7.10. Better than with the pre-installed version of Windows Vista that came with it (despite having DMA enabled, the latest audio and video card drivers installed, Vista’s sound system cracks and creaks during high network activity). And my built-in ENE flash card reader is finally supported! Which means Acer Aspire 5100 owners are only a single piece of hardware away from having a fully-functional, Linux-based laptop. The straggler? Why, Acer’s OrbiCam, of course. There’s a bit of a fuss in the forums about whether or not this device will ever be supported out-of-box, and whether it’s even worth the hacking time. The state of video in Linux is still primitive. Most people recommend buying a supported USB camera; since I’m a starving writer, I’ll continue to stick it out with Vista, which, despite its various eccentricities, supports all my hardware, and hasn’t crashed on me.

As of yet. ;)

Lunapark6 has a more in-depth review here: