Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ubuntu - Upgrade to Jaunty Jackalope

I recently upgraded Ubuntu on my Dell Inspiron 13 laptop from the Ibex Intrepid (8.10) to Jaunty Jackalope (9.04). "upgrade -d" was very slow on 23rd April, the release date for Jaunty. So I downloaded the Jaunty image using bit torrent. Once I had enough number of peers the average speed was topping 10MBPS. Looks like I was behind a 100Mbps switch.

Jaunty brings in Gnome 2.26 and a number of new features to the desktop. A common notification system for all applications is one of the very useful features. Desktop is much more slick and the new compiz and xorg are super fast. Compositing windows and the 3-D desktop effects are very useful for quickly turning to the window of interest. My music player rhythmbox used to hang while downloading multiple podcast feeds. This bug has been fixed in the jaunty. Jaunty brings in very fast boot-up with the boot time averaging to just 7 seconds on my laptop. And off course all devices on the laptop including webcam, bluetooth, wireless card and sound card were automatically identified and correct drivers were loaded.

Two things that did not work out of box were the intel GM965 graphics cards and the in-built microphone. The new Xorg (an open source implementation of X window system) has been a significantly changed from the previous release. Compiz when used with the new Xorg has freezes on Intel GM965 cards. As a result ubuntu blacklisted many intel graphics cards and will not turn up compiz. So you can use the metacity package that only supports 2-d graphics, which also had some performance regression with respect to the previous release. So overall people with Intel graphics card that wanted 3-d acceleration were left in cold. This has been kind of surprising and disappointing considering that Intel has been very nice with the support of their graphics cards on Linux. That has been one of the reasons that I exclusively buy Intel hardware.

Fixing the graphics bug was definitely not easy. As you can see the bug report on Ubuntu launchpad it has been very difficult to figure out where the bug is. Figuring out whether Xorg needs fixing or the driver has got even more complicated by the possibility of multiple bugs. The new UXA support has been added in Xorg to fix possibly one of the problems and I used it according to the instructions provided here. Then I turned off the blacklist and started compiz. Since then compiz has been working great with excellent performance and no freezes.

The support for in-built microphone in snd-hda-intel driver has been hard because of the large number of laptops that have different forms of the sound cards. Currently many people have reported this problem on the alsa website and hopefully support for my microphone will be added soon.

I wish there was better support for my graphics card and the in-built microphone. But overall Jaunty brings a great desktop for the usage of normal users.

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