Oneiric Ocelot Review
- Oneiric uses a version of KDE that is extremely powerful and flexible. Greater complexity and flexibility requires even more tweaking, though, and to get Oneiric to run on my 3 year old computer required every trick I knew. Lucid was easy to install, in comparison, but some of the packages from Lucid are no longer powerful enough for my purposes, and piecemeal upgrades did not work, so I was forced to upgrade to Oneiric.
Do I recommend the effort? Yes. A lot of programs that I used (such as Thunderbird with Engimail and Lightning Calendar are examples, but there are many others) are now updated for Oneiric 64-bit and installed and integrated easily for me using the Muon Software Package Manager. (It was not that easy to keep them up-to-date in Lucid.) I am now completely converted to Oneiric and won't revert. An interesting effect is that although the system ran slowly during the installation and tweaking process, once I had a stable system, it ran much faster (as fast as Lucid). I think that has to do with the storage of variables by the operating system to make it more efficient from startup to startup.
Below are the steps I took (to get my computer to run Oneiric). Hopefully you don't need as many as I needed.
I already have a Kubuntu Lucid installation, and I left it on its own partition while I installed Oneiric. Lucid would not upgrade directly to Oneiric (given the number of packages I use and the many library incompatibilites that occur during upgrades). I needed to accomplish many steps while logged into Lucid to get Oneiric to run, anyway.
- Using GParted in Lucid, I created a blank partition with enough space for a new OS (mimimum 25-30 Gb). If there is not an independent /home partition for user files, then the partition should be much larger.
- I downloaded Ubuntu Server 11.10 for CD (or USB). I use a 64-bit version, although, believe it or not, there are still a few programs out there that only use 32-bit. I use a server version for 2 reasons: 1) I also do "headless" server installations from time to time, and it is worthwhile to troubleshoot server installation without a GUI first, and 2) it is faster and more efficient to install a server without a desktop. A server installation takes me less than 15 minutes (compared to a desktop installation, which can take around 2 hours).
- I installed Ubuntu Server to its freshly created partition. I only install a minimal version (without any added packages or tasks, in the interest of speed). I NEVER install Grub to the Master Boot Record. Grub2 is a pain and requires a complete OS in order to function! My computers all have Grub Legacy in a standalone boot partition, since Grub Legacy does not require an OS to function and can chainload the bootloader of every type of OS. In contrast, if the Ubuntu server installation gets screwed up, so does Grub2, and then you can't boot the computer. I DO install Grub2 to the partition in which the Ubuntu server is installed (so that Grub2 manages the bootup for the Ubuntu OS in that partition only). For example, if the Ubuntu OS is installed to /dev/sda6, I install Grub2 to /dev/sda6 only (and NOT to the Master Boot Record).
- After finishing the installation, the computer rebooted and I received a "FREQUENCY OUT OF RANGE" error for my graphics card / monitor. My computer has an integrated Intel graphics card, and for the last few kernels Intel graphics cards have not automatically been supported during installation. I used BOTH this solution (regarding i915.modeset=0) AND this solution (regarding GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768) by logging into my Lucid installation and editing the /etc/default/grub file in the new Oneiric partition that way. At the same time, I adjust the GRUB-TIMEOUT=1 since I won't be using the Grub2 menu for anything, and a 1 second menu display is more than enough.
- I should note that while logged into the Lucid OS, I also adjusted my /boot partition's Grub Legacy config file, /boot/grub/menu.lst, so that I could chainload the Grub2 bootloader stored in the new partition. Now when I rebooted the FREQUENCY OUT OF RANGE error flashes several times but then (with patience) it booted to the command line anyway. I logged into the server and immediately updated Grub2 to reflect the config changes I made (sudo update-grub). Then when I rebooted again there were no more errors.
- While logged in at the server command line the first time I personally like to set a password for the root user using sudo passwd root (so that someone else who might logs into the computer later can't do it instead).
- I update and upgrade the server (sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade) to make sure all the server components are current. Then I finally add the Kubuntu desktop (sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop). When I reboot I have a fully functional Kubuntu system.
- The KDE desktop used in Oneiric has some new idiosyncracies. You can now establish different types of desktops (called "Activities") depending on the purpose of your computer. This is actually pretty cool, especially for mobile or "kiosk" devices. You can establish an Activity optimised to display slides or movies on the desktop (in fact, there is a pre-designed Activity for this purpose). One thing that annoyed me, though, was that the upper-right "Cashew" has the name of the Activity showing. However, if the widgets are un-locked, the Cashew can be slid over to the right and the name of the activity will be hidden that way.
- There are a lot of customisations to the desktop that can be done at this juncture, and I won't go into them. I happen to like Deja Sans for my default font (Settings -> System Settings -> Application Appearance -> Fonts -> Adjust All Fonts), and set that right away. I also turn off all the advanced (Settings -> System Settings -> Desktop Effects) until my system is tuned, since they slow down things considerably. I don't use a modem or bluetooth, so I remove both these modules (sudo apt-get remove modemmanager and sudo apt-get remove bluedevil), since I haven't found an effective way to disable them in the settings.
- I happen to dislike Network Manager and uninstalled it through the Muon Software center. My wired interface is more reliable without it, and I prefer Wicd for wireless computers. I then edited the /etc/network/interfaces for my static IP address and /etc/resolv.conf to set my desired nameservers (since I don't use my ISP's nameservers for privacy reasons).
- I still use Firestarter, simply because it is easier for me to turn off and on depending on my task. However, Firestarter uses an old logging system and the newer kernels have changed logging systems. To accommodate Firestarter (and other older programs that still use the old logs), I used the solution here to tweak the logging system to accept the old style of logs. Then Firestarter didn't complain about the logs any longer.
- I did some final tweaking of my Grub2. I happen to like the graphics included with grub2-splashimages (esepcially the plasma-lamp Tesla coil), and installed one using this suggestion. At the same time I secured Grub2 using this suggestion. I then updated Grub2 (sudo update-grub).
- Finally I started installing apps. Firefox has changed a good deal, since Mozilla has been redesigning it to be more suitable for tablets. It takes a good deal of customisation, and I have added two steps two my usual tweaking: a Bookmark / Favicon Changer and turning off the annoying SSL certificate name in the address bar. I still use AdBlock Plus and Noscript and DownloadHelper routinely, but have to be careful about the settings, since AdBlock and NoScript now try to "whitelist" a range of sites and "allow non-intrusive advertising" unless you turn off the behavior.
- Installed cdrtools' cdrecord v3.0 so that large data-volumes (> 4 GB) could be written to DVD. (I can't believe the cdrkit vs. cdrtools war has been going on for years!) See this section.
- Once everything is set up, Oneiric initially ran a bit more slowly than Lucid did. I even installed Bootup Manager (sudo apt-get install bum) to turn off some programs I did not wish to automatically start at boot, but this did not help appreciably at first. However, after a few reboots, i guess the configuration changes were stored and the system actually was faster!
- I then installed my apps. The system now works for me better than Lucid, with almost all the same programs, but updated versions. YMMV. Good luck.
- Since approximately October 2011 updates, k3b has not worked for me when burning DVDs larger than 3.7 Gb. (This has something to do with the utilities used to record large-data DVDs, and k3b has now removed the ability to customise the utilities.) This is a serious limitation for me (and I have filed several bug reports) but it has not been fixed over many months (that I can see). This is a serious unpatched problem and cripples Oneiric Ocelot, IMO. This is the single biggest problem with this version of Kubuntu and I have gone back to Lucid Lynx for any function that involves writing to DVDs.