Friday, 2 March 2012

Precise Pangolin, Beta Days Ahead

First, I do not recommend you try ANY of the following on any computer that you need to be able to use. This is still BETA software so unless you are not prepared for breakage then just sit back and enjoy my hapless attempts to avoid bricking my computer ;-)

I have downloaded two copies of Ubuntu 12.04LTS Precise Pangolin BETA, one 32bit and the other 64bit, and they are available from here. The only reason I need to keep downloading the 32bit is due to my netbook (an Advent 4211) not being able to run the 64bit architecture. Once the download process is complete I use Startup Disk Creator to create a USB key that I can install Ubuntu from. In this case I start with the 64bit.

Rounding up some Pangolin's

Once the USB is ready, it is ejected from the system, plugged into my Sony laptop and on boot-up I hold down the F11 key to boot from the USB. This launches me into Ubuntu and I get the options to either 'Try Ubuntu' or 'Install Ubuntu'. I dive straight into the install process and hit my first bug...the installer crashes and dumps me into the 'Try Ubuntu' screen. There I double click the 'Install Ubuntu' icon, and this time it launches and all goes to plan. The various setting pages are completely up to your own preference, the default options will have you up and running in no time, but I did choose to partition and format my HDD and also to encrypt my Home Folder. The encryption I have not bothered with since it became an option as an option, but following reading this answer on Ask Ubuntu I decided to give it a try.

The fresh new desktop

After the installation process is complete I restart and then I am greeted with my brand spanking new BETA desktop. First task is to check for updates by clicking on the gear icon in the top-right, then clicking on 'Software Up to Date'. I click into the 'settings' on the bottom left, then go through each of the tabs selecting my preferences. Close out of that, hit the 'Check' button and already there were 63 updates waiting which required a restart once downloaded and installed.

Once back into the desktop the process of setting up all the various accounts begins, but not before I am greeted with a reminder to note my passphrase for the newly encrypted Home Folder. Here I just entered my password, hit enter and out came the passphrase. You are supposed to take note of this and this is when a default notetaking application like Tomboy would come in very useful, but failing that, just find a pen and paper then triple check that the correct passphrase is jotted down.

Getting started with Ubuntu One
Entering your email and password is all it takes

Time to start choosing what to sync

The next job was logging into my Ubuntu One account to start syncing my folders, then after that the slow process of setting up my individual Broadcast Accounts (Twitter, Foursquare,, Flickr and Facebook). After that the process begins again with setting up all the various IM accounts and favourite IRC rooms. Then one more time with setting up Thunderbird. What adds an extra hoop is that I use the Google 2-step verification which requires logging into Google and setting up authentication keys for anything that wants access to my Google account.

Its life Jim...

Do you know what would be REALLY great? If Ubuntu One synced all those services (Broadcast/Empathy/Thunderbird) as well as your Ubuntu One folders. It could take a similar format of checking the boxes for what to bring over, if any at all, and the end-users life is made much easier. Especially as I have a PC/laptop/netbook and most of my family and friends who I have brought into the Ubuntu fold also have more then one instance of Ubuntu in most cases. The way that you can now see installed applications across various machines via the Ubuntu Software Centre is an indication that this could be made to work. Fingers crossed for 12.10!?

So many applications, so little time

Anything else now is completely down to my own preferences, the next few hours will involve the uninstalling and installing of various applications to get things looking and working the way I like it. And if nothing else this part alone highlights the benefits of using opensource software, getting access to thousands of different applications in the Ubuntu Software Centre without having to pay a cent.

In previous posts I have highlighted some of the really cool new features getting dropped into Precise Pangolin, so feel free to look over those. In less then two months now 12.04 will be unleashed in its final form for all to enjoy, and its going to be hanging around fully supported and updated for the next 5 years!

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