Saturday, 26 July 2008

Hello Hardy Heron

How appropriate this is, approximately one year after making the leap to Ubuntu I find myself finally upgrading to the latest release, 8.04 LTS Hardy Heron. This has been much applauded by many as being the best and essentially simplest version of Ubuntu to use and install. Many of the features within it will be familiar to users like myself who lived through Feisty Fawn and Gutsy Gibbon.

I did not realise it at the time, but I made the jump into the bleeding edge end of Linux. You see, the last LTS (or Long Term Support) version of Ubuntu was 6.06 LTS Dapper Drake with support ending in June 2009 for desktops and June 2011 for servers. Everything after that was essentially a testing ground for the latest features and technology long before other non-free operating systems had put them to use. So the fact that I made the switch and managed to survive says much about how far Linux has come. No longer is it just command lines and the terminal. Virtually the entire install process now is done via 'point & click' with the user only having to resort to the command line for very unique problems.

In my case it was the USB modem I use to dial up to the internet. This of course was a major issue, but a weekend of googling and asking questions in the Ubuntu forums soon had every question answered. In fact it was as simple as 'cut & paste'. Which worked successfully after wrestling with root...since then myself and root have grown closer, I know what sweet nothings to type into terminal and it usually obliges if I sugar coat it enough.

So enough with the past, what about the future? Well I have eventually upgraded to Hardy Heron, the fault prevented one from booting up into Hardy unless you resorted to playing with Grub. This problem has been finally fixed by the computer genius's that give their free time to solving the various bugs that pop up at launchpad. Now here is a brief explanation of how I finally got to upgrade...note that this problem afflicted only certain laptops and the vast majority simply inserted the CD and said “hello” to Hardy Heron.

First I took the Canonical supplied (for free) Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Desktop Edition CD-ROM. I inserted this into my CD-ROM drive and booted up the laptop. Once you get to the screen that asks you what you want to do (Install...test...etc.), I hit 'F6' for other options. The line of code that appeared then at the bottom of the screen I simply deleted the word 'quiet' and pressed enter. The laptop then booted as normal into the Live CD environment.

Once fully loaded I double clicked the install icon and went through the process of installing Ubuntu. Now I partition my hard drive manually since I have a separate partition for my 'Home'. This means every time I do a fresh install of Ubuntu I do not lose any of my settings or files. Of course I keep a back-up just in case for good measure, but this makes upgrading much simpler. So my 3 partitions are basically:

sda1 ext3 / 15GB
sda2 ext3 /home 80GB
sda3 swap 3GB

This is just how I do things, some partition to many more and different sizes, others want to dual-boot with another OS, others may want to just let Ubuntu sort it all out for them and so on! Just go with what you are comfortable with. After that I finished up and installed.

Now for the most difficult bit (really easy though).

When the laptop restarted and the screen came up saying to press 'ESC' for other options I pressed 'ESC'. Not doing so would leave me with the original problem of the laptop freezing during boot. Now this brings you to a screen with a few options. In my case it was very straight forward.

1 – Scroll down to the 'quiet' and press the letter 'd'. This is now deleted.

2 – Scroll up to the kernel and press 'e' to edit. Move along the line and delete the word 'quiet' using the 'delete' or 'backspace' keys. Then press 'enter'.

3 – Press the 'b' key to boot.

(Note that these alterations are one time only. Next time one boots you would have to do it all again or not at all depending on how things work out.)

Now Ubuntu 8.04 booted up! This was indeed a great sight to see after waiting for so long, though it looked just as I left it since my home directory was successfully accessed meaning everything was more or less as it was with Gutsy Gibbon and now I just had to connect to the internet. Then went to 'System – Administration – Software Sources'. Within this I made sure I was connected to the main server and the most important part was ensuring that I had selected the 'hardy-proposed' repos for the updates. After reloading the repos I found that I had some 250 updates (approx 248MB worth) so began the process of updating the system. After which would come the moment of truth...restarting the system and seeing if the latest proposed kernel solved my woe's.

After a few seconds the laptop came back to life, the grub option came and went followed by the Ubuntu loading progress bar! It had worked and I am typing this now under the freshly installed and 100% functioning Hardy Heron. It may have taken months to get here but It was worth the wait. Hardy Heron looks and feels much like the Gutsy Gibbon, just more refined a few more useful features. That is exactly the point though, this is all about stability and predictability for desktops until April 2011 and servers until 2013. Everything just works and now I begin the process of refining this further with my favorite open source applications.

A huge thank you goes out to all those who give up their free time to make open source software work, even those who help out in the forums. As long as people with questions can go to places were others were in the exact same boat then that is an environment that will be rewarding to all that take part. I look forward to maintaining Hardy on this laptop as the backbone of my computing experiences, I have other machines that I will allow to get bloodied by Ibex and its successors and just in case you forgot, all this is free!

Ubuntu...Linux for human beings.