Feisty beta gets a big +1 from me

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I put a straight Feisty Ubuntu installation on my fastest machine (1Ghz 🙄 ) yesterday. I don’t have to tell you that I’m not a real big fan of Gnome or the default Ubuntu environment, but I have to admit that things are looking very good.

It took a while to get it all in place, but the default partitioning and hardware setup was exceptionally easy to handle. I used the alternate installation (the live CD is a waste to me), and it’s almost step-for-step the same as previous versions. Start to finish was about an hour, with a slight delay here and there while it probed my oversized hard drives.

When it was done, Feisty had configured my Intel PRO 2200BG wireless perfectly, found my modular hard drive, sound card, USB, PCMCIA, DVD+-RW … pretty much everything, which is what I expect for a 7-year-old computer. I would have been highly disappointed — and probably shocked — if something had fallen through the cracks.

Gnome runs a little sluggish. Boot times are about twice what I get with Openbox or even straight Beryl, but I anticipate that with a full desktop environment. I would be unnecessarily critical if I made a point of harassing Gnome for doing so much more than Openbox does alone.

There are a couple of weird things that I just never see under my stripped-down versions of Ubuntu. The Gnome Keyring Manager seems like a good idea, but it keeps my network from simply jumping online when I turn on the machine. I have to give it the password, and I haven’t found a way around that yet. I’m sure I will soon.

And until I actually hand-edited the fstab file to include the modular drive, I had to remount it every time I started up — although not with a password. It would show up in Nautilus, but wouldn’t mount until I double-clicked on the icon. Not a major point, but I keep some of my preferred wallpaper there, and it meant I was losing the background image on startup since the drive wasn’t accessible until I poked at it. A minor quibble, I admit.

But this is a strong improvement over the last time I used Gnome … a year ago. What impressed me the most was how much more seems integrated into the GUI. I can remember fresh Breezy installations needing a mess of editing to bring into line. You had to manually install Flash, DVD decoding, MPlayer for video inside Firefox … it was like an entire second step for installing.

But yesterday I installed Flash, MPlayer and the Mozilla plugin, Deluge, Audacious, proprietary Nvidia drivers and a list of other things without ever opening a terminal. Heck, all but one of those I installed without even opening Synaptic. This might put Automatix out of business.

Now a sour note: Since I mentioned it, I have to admit that my biggest problems have been the proprietary drivers. My 64Mb Geforce4 440 Go simply doesn’t work with 96xx-series drivers — no matter what Nvidia says — and it’s been a real hairball to figure out a workaround.

But without some sort of intermediary nvidia-glx package, I’m stuck using nvidia-glx-legacy, and I get very weird X lockups with that. Everything freezes, the mouse stutters impatiently, and eventually I have to cut the power completely to get my system back. I noticed that installing nvidia-glx didn’t install linux-386, so as an experiment I put linux-386 on there. Still no luck. Dead X within seconds of booting.

So that will be my personal Feisty cross to bear, and I’m not sure how much of it is really Ubuntu’s fault. Without a proper open source Nvidia driver, problems like mine don’t go away. Nvidia probably won’t be jumping in to save me any time soon, so I’ll go back to building the 8756 driver myself, and seeing how close I can get to proper video acceleration. Things could always be worse. At least the nv driver is working.

So in short, I give the Feisty beta a big +1. It’s smooth, it looks good, it’s easy to set up and it is manageable with almost no need for a terminal (provided your hardware will play nice, but that’s always a caveat). It’s not going to convert me into a Gnome user, but the fact that it impressed an Openbox fanatic says something.


26 thoughts on “Feisty beta gets a big +1 from me

  1. Pingback: TriedIT - Software and Hardware News and Reviews » Blog Archive » Ubuntu Feisty Beta reviewed

  2. jon

    you’re one of the lucky few, who didn’t encounter so much problem. when i tried
    it, i’m stuck in the boot splash long time. it did not detect my true resolution, instead i’m stuck on 600X800 resolution.

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  4. George Fragos

    I’ve been an Ubuntu user for about a year and did a clean install of the Feisty beta in a separate partition in case I had to go back to Edgy. The install of the Live CD went very smoothly and the system came right up. I installed nvidia-glx and a number of other packages to arrive at functional parity with my Edgy install. Still no issues. In fact after moving some data I don’t think I’ll have a need for my Edgy backup. One thing I’ve learned about Ubuntu is that it’s always best to stick with the Ubuntu repositories and the Synaptic Package manager. I reserve the command line for in depth information collection. I make my configuration changes with the Gnome applications provided. Occasionally I’ll compile a driver myself but only when its otherwise not available in the Ubuntu repositories. I was pleased to the many improvements in operation. I have a TV card that’s been a bear to install and now to my surprise it was automatically discovered and all installation was performed for me. Even the firmware got transparently downloaded to the card. No system is perfect but Ubuntu continues to do a better job for Desktop users.

  5. Hmmm

    Im glad to see Linux (especially Ubuntu) blogs
    and that fess up to some of the continuing issues
    My experiences are mostly with Breezy 5.10 on an 1800+ Athlon desk
    and then on a 266Mhz K6 presario which had to step down to
    Xubuntu but a later version 6.10 Edgy Eft.

    From my point things are getting better but I still havent gotten
    a G wireless to work yet. Struck out with Netgear WG511 and now fixing to try USB from Linksys WUSB54GC

    Hopefully someone can assemble these detailed testamonials as to what actucally and reasonably works as there are many
    looking to use more GUI linux and on OLD machines.

    It CAN be DONE, but we need good data.

    A laptop without wifi is useless.

    I also applaud the move forward in allowing more proprietary drivers
    They simply have to reach some sort of agreement to make this a little less painful.

    Ubuntu is Soooo close to taking out Windows.

    Im sure there are powers that be that will work hard to keep said road blocks in place…at least for most users.


    Check out my blog

    Bravo on your posting! We need more of this.

  6. Dmitri

    I’m glad it works for someone… my Ubuntu does not detect my 1650×1080 resolution, nor my DSL modem. So much for ‘it just works’.

  7. AliasMarlowe

    I’m waiting until Feisty is officially released before installing it. However, I will say that I’ve had very few problems with Ubuntu on a Sony laptop. Breezy detected and configured the 1920×1200 screen, wireless LAN, DVDRW, audio, and so forth. With Dapper and Edgy, the bluetooth was also recognized and configured (and promptly disabled by me).

    My issues are (i) the laptop has ATI graphics, so accellerated 3D requires jumping through hoops with ATI’s binary blob driver every time the linux kernel is updated, (ii) the weird Sony soft buttons for sound & brightness don’t work, as Sony only gives a driver for XP, but the alternate Fn key-combinations do work, (iii) installing the codecs and suchlike – which are NOT legally restricted in my country – is an annoyance, (iv) setting up network shares with other Ubuntu machines is awkward, whether using NFS or samba/cifs, and involves too much effort.

    Note that only the fourth of these is really Ubuntu’s fault, but all of them affect Ubuntu users. I’m looking forward to Feisty eliminating the codec issue and the network share issue.

  8. Matthias

    Thanks for the post on Feisty Beat.

    You know, what I really don’t get though is why people continue bitching about their ancient video cards not working properly. You can get new nVidia or ATI cards for 50-100 bucks which definitely work flawlessly with Linux. Ever considered doing that?

    I have been running Ubuntu on three machines now, 2 laptops and one desktop PC, I never ever had any problems with graphics. The first laptop ran an Intel integrated video card (worked perfectly), the second one an nVidia GeForce 7400 Go (worked perfectly with nvidia-glx). My desktop PC runs a Radeon 9800 Pro (fglrx drivers, works perfectly).

    You can get a Radeon 9800 for almost nothing these days, as it’s already 4 years old.

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  10. K.Mandla Post author

    @Blake Lewis: Yup! 😀

    @Matthias: You make a good point, except that in my case, the sudden failure of Nvidia drivers is a regression. My Geforce4 can run Savage at 1600×1200 with framerates over 30fps under Edgy — with the 8776 version of nvidia-glx. So bumping up to Feisty and the latest Nvidia driver (complete with a dead screen) is a huge step backward. Is the solution really to buy a new video card? I would disagree; the problem isn’t with the card, it’s Nvidia’s closed-source driver.

    @AliasMarlowe: You’re probably smart to wait, and to be honest, I might reinstall Edgy for the same reasons. I don’t want to rebuild an Nvidia driver every three days because of the latest kernel revision. Once Feisty hits stable, I can focus on getting the driver into place.

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  13. Ravi

    I also tried Feisty Beta, and found many bugs and incomplete build, though i guess the official final would be stable and good. Though, it still lacks what we all want, FAST AND FURIOUS.
    The integration of beryl is great, but right now very unstable on my machine. I had to get back to my Edgy 🙂
    Ubuntu team would have to optimize it for better performance and furious reaction, otherwise it would be user side compromise.
    Anyway, its improving a lot with amazing and pleasing feature addons.

  14. Onkar Shinde


    Can you elaborate what bugs you are talking about? I have been running Feisty from the days of Herd 3 and haven’t faced any problem.

    Have you files bugs? I am sure you don’t expect developers to resolve the bugs without you ever reporting them.

  15. detto

    Tried Feisty Beta now for 2 days:
    LiveCD is too slow for my taste but the installer is nice.
    First boot was a bit slow, now its acceptable.
    The codec detection+installation went fine and is a nice solution, but still i had to add more things to get a fully functional desktop (java, flash, *-dev packages (oh my god that was much!)).
    Now everything works, except some applications that rely on the jack sound server. There is no entry for jackd in the services-GUI and i dont have a clue how to set it up here.
    An annoyance is this pretty strange behaviour of mounting other partitions: if entries are commented in fstab, then its not automounted but it gets its entries in /media (as it should, fine), BUT if they’re uncommented in fstab and get automounted in specified mountpoint, they dont appear in “Places” menu. Pretty strange imo.
    Today a kernel update came in, rebooted and X didnt appear becasue they forgot to upload nvidia package. Well, old kernel was still there, so no big problem.
    Btw, the nvidia driver update with the GUI went really nice, cool thing. BUT xorg.conf is totally sucking: after driver installation the DRI section was still there, resolution settings didnt allow me to set 1280×1024, keyboard was set to US instead to DE, and the mouse section needed some work to get all buttons working.

  16. Yaron Sh.

    I have tried fresh install of kubuntu.
    What can I say? I understood again why microsoft dominates the OS world.
    For 7.04, They said that it would be easier for the novice user but I haven’t seen anything for example that makes 3D desktop definition easier. I tried to select ati-fglrx driver for my G800 card through the setup console but it seems to have no effect. I haven’t found any 3d related desktop wizards.
    For the internet connection I had to use Konsole, the connection lags all the time and tend to disconnect. (Simple ADSL connection).
    I couldn’t find any GUI application to help me edit the OS loader sequence.
    The help file is a complete mess.
    There are so many distros out there, some claim to be as easy as windows (Mandriva for example) but you always find yourself editing the xorg.conf and following all these endless workarounds.

  17. Lionel

    I’ve use SuSe, Mandrake, Red Hat, Mandriva, Fedora (in that order) and as of yesterday Ubuntu. Out of all the ditros, Ubuntu was by far the easiest to install, the desktop looks crisp and clean and it works great though a little slow to start up. Had to fiddle around with the sound a little. Didn’t like the creative 5.1 sound card I put in or the USB card.

    After installing the updates and downloading some packages inc Beryl I have no issues to speak of and a very cool looking 3D desktop.

    So other than a few issues with some hardware and the learning curve of a new OS Ubuntu has replaced an XP machine I was using for a media center. I had tried earlier this year with Fedora 4,5 & 6 but could never get them to install. Mandriva 2007 Free installed and worked but the video was pixelated and the sound was low.

    AMD Duron 2100+
    1GB DDR2
    2 x 200Gb HD
    1 x 80Gb HD
    NVidia FX 5200 128Mb (PCI)

  18. Michael


    Been playing with the feisty beta for a while now on my laptop, thought you might like to know that I have been able to get the Nvidia GeForce4 440 Go 64M (NV17 i think)working using the binary drivers from Nvidia, the 1.0-9631 version was the last to support the card.

    Cheers 🙂

  19. K.Mandla Post author

    Sorry Michael. I’ve tried and tried and tried, and no matter what setup or what configuration I use, that 9631 driver leaves me with a dead screen. I’ve messed with it in Ubuntu, in Arch and even tried SLAX, and it’s a no-go on my machine. Consider yourself lucky. For my own part, I’ll stick to rebuilding the 8776 driver.

  20. Totally Infected

    Hi, just passing through, checking out reviews of 7.04… one thing I might be able to add for you… MintDisk, it’s a great feature of Linux Mint (an Ubuntu-based distro) that auto-mounts anything not in your fstab. Actually they have a few great custom adds. But you can check their forums – main page –> special projects and find the Linux Mint repo and just borrow it from them to run on Ubuntu I think. hope that’s a solution for you. I run Linux mint and it finds my 3 internal drives with multiple partitions (Fat32 & NTFS) + auto-mounts my USB or F/W externals (both HDD and Flash) with no problems.

  21. zaka

    No way of getting my “nvidia geforce 440 go” to work.
    black screen black screen black screen…etc

  22. 043087m135

    I’m a fairly recent Ubuntu convert, since the beginning of Edgy. I’ve got my family’s network running Feisty, and they all love it. I used to run their 6 computer wireless network with XP but they were experiencing near-constant connectivity issues, spyware, viruses, slow load times, crashed applications, even in the face of yearly fresh reinstalls. You all know the story. I run feisty on my main desktop (950 mhz, GeForce MX 440) and it’s awesome using xfce4 and beryl. HOWEVER I had a similiar HUGE backstep when it came to my laptop’s video card. Everything was copasetic under edgy on my pavilian n9454 with the integrated intel video card, but when I upgraded to feisty…black screen. I’ve dinked with the config scripts endlessly…It appears to have something to do with the secondary monitor hookup and/or tvOut. Anybody know of an easy way I can roll back my intel video drivers to the Edgy versions? Heh.

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