Monday, 22 October 2007

Experiences with Ubuntu 7.10 Gusty Gibbon

I've spent a fair bit of time around Linux and I was very interested to see what this new distribution had to offer. I went the cheater's path for my work PC (a Dell GX260) and upgraded first to the RC and then patched to the full version. I like it a lot on this machine, it detected my wide screen LCD properly, looks nice and feels like it runs faster than 7.04. So, all good.

At home however, the story varies significantly. I have a whitebox with an AMD processor in it, a 250GB SATA disk and standard everything else. It currently runs Windows Vista Ultimate (ugh!) and I had approximately 80GB free that I thought would be handy for Ubuntu. I will note that this particular machine, when I attempted to install OpenSuSE 10.3 on it, appears to have some obscure SATA controller and SuSE was unable to detect it. I was prepared for the eventuality that Ubuntu wouldn't see it either, but to my pleasant surprise it did.

I ran the install, popped GRUB on the system and rebooted. Everything had seemed to go well, the partitioning etc was a breeze and Ubuntu have done a very nice job of making the installation process as painless and thought free as possible (good for the newbz out there that say Linux is too hard to install). After the reboot I was greeted with the unhappy result from GRUB: Error 17. Subsequent reboots and I got Error 18 and even Error 15. The SATA controller problem (I suspect) had struck again. What *really* ticked me off was that Vista was unable to repair the boot partition and I lost the lot. Now fortunately I have backups (let that be a lesson to all of you who don't) and I didn't lose any data. I did, however, lose several hours of time and my temper at least twice.

The SATA controller in this particular machine is not a fancy one. The board is a fairly standard one and it ran Ubuntu 7.04 without any issue. And yet neither OpenSuSE 10.3 or Ubuntu 7.10 worked with it properly. Very annoying. Vista (sadly) did work with it properly and is once again working with it properly. *sigh* I want to get away from the Microsoft world (it's expensive!) and I am restrained once again due to hardware issues.

So a win and a loss with Ubuntu 7.10 and one complete recovery failure with Vista. Life goes on.

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