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Experiencing Ubuntu Dapper 6.06 (step by step with screenshots)

Ubuntu golden logo

The release of Ubuntu Dapper 6.06 caused a lot of buzz even before it happened. The actual release was originally planned for April 2006 and if it wasn't postponed for June 1st it would have been called 6.04 according to its version naming scheme (6 for the current year and 04 for month). Mark Shuttleworth's request for postponing, the consequential decision making process (which was open), but also some friction regarding the kubuntu project management only contributed to the already quite high awareness, or "buzz", around this popular GNU/Linux distribution.

So, what's it all about? What does this GNU/Linux distribution really deliver? This review is about that new Ubuntu experience.

PRE-INSTALLATION:

Ubuntu Dapper installation CD doubles as a live CD which allows you to try Ubuntu before you have actually installed it on your hard drive. It is basically set up almost exactly the same as the default Ubuntu install. The only visible difference is that livecd contains a couple of icons on the desktop and the default install doesn't. The icons are the "examples" folder shortcut and the "install" shortcut (which launches the installation program). I have no doubts that a curious user will want to click on that "examples" folder to see what's in it.

Ubuntu Dapper Examples

The content of the examples folder is the whole slew of files of various file formats, from an ogg video to the OpenOffice.org spreadsheets. I assume that the intended purpose of this is to showcase what can be created with Ubuntu. Since every file launches an appropriate program with which it should be opened and displays some pretty nice examples of work, I think this is indeed a good way to send a positive signal to the user: "yes, you can do these jobs with this GNU/Linux operating system". I imagine it may be a comforting message to many new users.

Example Spreadsheet in OpenOffice.org Calc on Ubuntu Dapper
Example spreadsheet in OpenOffice.org Calc application on Ubuntu Dapper

One interesting thing I've found among these example files is the ogg video, which is a quiet inspirational movie featuring an interview with Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa (homeland of Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu). The video gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling about Ubuntu, as if you are becoming part of something bigger and better. If you are coming from Windows, you in fact do, but that's another story. Suffice it to say that this video is a powerful way to get new users intrigued and a nice push to get people interested in going through with the install of Ubuntu to their hard drives.

Ubuntu Dapper Example Ogg video

Ubuntu Dapper Example Ogg video showing Nelson Mandela

Besides all the interesting stuff available in the examples folder, this Ubuntu CD makes it possible for you to get connected to the net and surf the web, chat with friends using gaim, or even do some work yourself that you can then save onto a removable media that you may posses. Even if you never intended to install Ubuntu on a particular machine where you booted this CD it can be very useful. I have spent around an hour playing with it (made some shots, surfed some sites and sent few IRC messages to our channel) and I haven't encountered any problems.

I think this double purpose is generally a good thing, as it saves you time you'd have to spend downloading and burning a second CD should you decide to install it. There are also situations where it could be immensely valuable such as when you show it off to a friend and he decides he wants to install it on his computer - all you have to do is launch an installation program that is right there on the desktop.

INSTALLATION

The new Ubuntu installation program is probably one of if not the easiest around. It is graphical, unlike in previous versions of Ubuntu, and has just six steps that user has to go through to complete the installation, of which most are pretty much no brainers.

Steps involved include:

1) Language selection allows you to select a language for the installation process as well as the default for the final system:

Ubuntu Install: language selection

2) Tell the installer where you are: select your city and time zone. A nice zoom able map is provided where you can select your area and city. The "set time" button also allows you to adjust your time and date if necessary.

Ubuntu Install: location selection

3) Select your keyboard layout. You can select one that most closely matches your keyboard and test it out in a box below.

Ubuntu Install: keyboard layout setup

4) Tell the installer something about yourself; your name, desired username, password and the name of your computer (it is actually your hostname and if you will be using a command line it will appear in your prompt as your-username@hostname$. In an example shown on this screenshot it would be daniel@libernode$

Ubuntu Install: who are you?

5) Where to install / partitioning: This step can be one of the easiest or the hardest, depending on your requirements. It allows you to instruct the installer where exactly is it to install Ubuntu. You ultimately have three options as shown below: (1) Erase entire disk, (2) Use largest continuous free space or (3) manually edit your partition table. The first two steps are the easiest as by choosing them you basically let the installer do everything for you. One of the first two steps are recommended for the new user who hasn't ever installed a GNU/Linux or even any other operating system. If you are installing it onto a new machine that is to be running only Ubuntu, then the first option makes most sense. If you already have something on your disk, but also have some free unpartitioned space, the second option is probably the best. Only if neither of the above is correct or if you simply want to have full control over how should the disk be partitioned, choose the third option.

Ubuntu Install: where to install

- 5.1) In case you have chosen the third option, to manually partition your hard disk, you will be greeted with a partitioning program with a graphical representation of your entire disk. You create new partitions by clicking on the empty space and clicking the "new" button. As you finish creating new partitions they are shown as jobs that the partitioner needs to do allowing you to edit or delete any of these jobs if you decide to make modifications. The screenshots below show how it looks like and are pretty self explanatory. I think that this partitioning program is definitely on par with some of the other user friendly partitioning programs such as notably one of Mandriva. I really don't know how much better can it get than this, especially considering that many users wont even need to see the partitioning program if they just choose one of the first two options described above.

Ubuntu Install: creating new partition

Ubuntu Install: partitioning jobs

Ubuntu Install: confirm partitioning

Ubuntu Install: creating partitions

- 5.2) After you have created the necessary partitions you have to assign mount points to them. The Ubuntu installer allows you to do it in a farily efficient way, displaying selectable (as well as manually customizable) mount point locations on the left, and the drop down menus of existing partitions on the right, along with their size. The tick boxes on the far right allow you to select whether to reformat a given partition or not. One possibly annoying miss that I found here is that if you select to reformat a partition at this screen, it wont give you options as to which file system you want for it, and will just make it ext3. This probably wont bother most users though, especially those coming from Windows or Mac OS X. You can have a partition with a different file system type though, if you create empty partitions of those types in a previous step and don't choose to reformat them here.

Ubuntu Install: assigning mount points

6) Summary: Step six requires you to do nothing but read the summary of settings you have chosen in previous five steps and choose whether to accept these settings and go with the install or go back and make modifications.

Ubuntu Install: summary

And then it goes on with the install. Installation is definitely not the fastest around and I believe this one took more time than the previous versions of Ubuntu, but this is probably something we can let through considering the big improvements to the installation interface and the user friendliness of the whole process.

One thing that was apparently sacrificed for that goal is the bootloader setup which is missing in this installer. The installation will simply install GRUB with the default set of Ubuntu boot options. I have an Arch GNU/Linux on my other partitions and it didn't even detect that. In this regard, it is actually a step back from previous releases where other GNU/Linux distributions, as well as operating systems such as Windows, were properly detected and added to the bootloader. Now there is not even an option to add them yourself, short of editing the GRUB configuration manually after installation.

Ubuntu dapper installing

Once installation is complete you are presented with a dialog that allows you to reboot or choose to continue using the livecd. This nicely adds up to the double purpose of this CD.

After Dapper install

All things considered, this is definitely one of the most user friendly installations in the GNU/Linux world so far, even though it sacrifices a few options to provide that experience, from the missing bootloader configuration (as described above) to the lack of ability to custom select packages for installation. It however clearly shows that Ubuntu is aimed at new desktop GNU/Linux users coming from Windows or Mac OS X and expecting everything to be easy and smooth, without asking too many questions and requiring too much to do. Installing Ubuntu is thus probably easier than installing Windows XP (at least if you choose not to customize the partition table). There is no doubt anymore that when it comes to installing GNU/Linux, it not only measures up to Windows, but beats it too.

UBUNTU (RE)LOADED:

As expected, the first boot up of the new Ubuntu system went quite well. While it is not as fast as with some GNU/Linux distros, most users to whom Ubuntu is targeted probably wont mind, and it is definitely not slower than the Windows XP boot so former Windows users probably wont miss much in this regard. The boot screen is nice looking and boot messages were made friendlier than the flying console text would be. Smiling

After the boot, we are presented with the great looking GDM (GNOME Desktop Manager) screen asking to enter username and then password, upon which the Ubuntu desktop starts loading with the golden looking splash. Few moments later we see an Ubuntu desktop and can start playing with it.

- APPLICATIONS

One of the greatest strengths of Ubuntu was always its applications selection. Instead of offering quantity it opts for offering a quality choice for every basic task a desktop user may want to do with his computer. Menus are logically divided into accessories, games, graphics, internet, office and sound & video. Some of the notable applications included are GIMP image editor, gThumb image viewer, Ekiga Softphone (VoIP, IP-Telephony and Videoconferencing application), Totem movie player, Rythmbox music player, Serpentine audio CD creator, SoundJuicer CD ripper and of course Evolution email client, GAIM IM client, latest Firefox web browser and the whole OpenOffice.org suite.

Menus however don't reveal the whole offering, but there is an "Alacarte Menu Editor" in accessories which allows you to easily add, remove or move your menu items. Menus and menu items that are available, but aren't currently active are marked with a smaller font, as shown on the screenshot below where bittorrent is also available, but hidden. All it takes to activate a menu item is to check a tick box next to it. The file menu of the Alacarte Menu Editor allows you to add a new menu or a new menu entry.

Alacarte Menu Editor

All applications seem to be set up to work out of the box. However, the Ekiga Softphone does experience some problems as shown below. Users that have expected this to work out of the box may find it a bit discomforting.

Ekiga errors

Configuring Ubuntu should be fairly easy as pretty much all possible configuration options have their own special dedicated programs. One example of this is the separation of the screensaver settings and the power management settings in two independent configuration programs. As someone who has used quite a few GNU/Linux distributions so far I can't not to notice the lack of certain options for the apparent purpose of making it more easy to use. Hence, the screensaver preferences program actually misses the test button that would allow the user to test the screensaver in addition to having a preview of it in a small window. How does this makes it easier to set up screensavers escapes me though, but as you'll see later on this is not an unique example of the phenomenon known as "dumbing down" that Ubuntu apparently seems to employ.

- INSTALLING NEW SOFTWARE

Even if you don't find the included software set satisfactory, and sooner or later most people would indeed want more, you simply don't have anything to worry about. Provided that you have an internet connection, a whole world of Free Software is at your fingertips. The Add/Remove menu item (of the applications menu) opens the doors for you by launching a program that allows you to surf through a nice selection of available programs that you can install from Ubuntu internet repositories. It is actually a front-end to synaptic (which is, of course, a front end to apt-get which is a front end to DPKG which is that mysterious underlining technology behind all this software installation magic in Debian based systems such as Ubuntu).

Ubuntu Add/Remove program

This program only shows some of the major software packages available for install. If you want to see everything that is actually available you have to click on the "advanced" button which will open synaptic for you. Many have praised synaptic and I can only see why. There is no doubt that this is one of the best, if not the best package management front-end programs out there.

You can browse through software by category or search them with a search box (also available from a ctrl-f shortcut) and then select software you want by clicking on a box next to it which will give you available options as to what to do with it depending on whether it is already installed or not. All the while the lower half of the window shows a description of the selected package that can help you decide whether to install or not.

Even when you are not in Synaptic, Ubuntu will notify you if there are any software updates available by popping up a yellow box from a top panel.

Nothing from the world of Windows matches this kind of software installation experience and I have doubts it ever will.

Ekiga errors

Before concluding the software installation section I have one little nitpick to express regarding "dumbing down" mentioned earlier.

Before updating software repositories configuration to include "universe" (easily done by selecting it in settings/repositories in synaptic) I have looked for XChat, a popular Internet Relay Chat applications. The Add/Remove program only offered XChat-GNOME, so I installed and tried that. XChat-GNOME is quite frankly a "dumbed down" version of XChat which literary has some options removed for the sake of making it simpler or easier to use. Personally I don't find it any easier and I never really saw the need for XChat in particular to be made any easier than it already is. I am therefore not sure if going through the effort of making a modified (dumbed down) version of XChat and including it as default XChat selectable from Add/Remove software program was really worth it. It is possible that a similar thing was done for some other software packages as well.

However, a normal version of XChat is available in the universe repository, so there of course is a choice.

- ABOUT HARDWARE SUPPORT:

It is already known that most of the basic hardware is well supported under practically all GNU/Linux distributions and my case wasn't any different. The hardware support issue tends to pop up only in cases of graphics card drivers such as for NVidia and ATI or some other more exotic hardware. I have neither an NVidia nor ATI cards, but a built in onboard Savage graphics chip. While display and X started up normally I did have to go to the X configuration (/etc/X11/xorg.conf) to make a modification to my refresh rate and color depth setting to correct them. By default Ubuntu set them at more conservative values making my screen refresh rate quite low (60Hz) and depth at only 16bit.

On a positive note, direct rendering seems to be enabled from the start which is a big improvement compared to previous releases and probably has much to thanks to the new Xorg 7 that is underneath.

Some of the more exotic hardware that I have are the SkyStar2 DVB card by TechniSat and the USB EDGE modem produced by a Slovakian company zadaCOM. Living in a village with no availability of ADSL I connect to the internet using this EDGE modem (the EDGE wireless connection) and the DVB card for the one way (download) satellite connection. Using a proxy I redirect all download traffic over satellite which is faster and cheaper than EDGE. Good news is that both of these were properly detected by Ubuntu as shown by the "lspci" command and the device nodes were properly created in the /dev directory. All I needed to do to make them work was to copy the chat connection script and the proxy software directory to Ubuntu in appropriate places. It's akin to installing a driver in windows, except that it is actually even faster and easier provided that you have these saved up somewhere.

If I can get this working, then in most likelihood any of the major ADSL modems that most people use would work too. So for a great majority of people connecting to the internet with Ubuntu should not be a problem.

CONCLUSION:

So is the buzz around Ubuntu Dapper justified? There are a good deal of other great GNU/Linux distribution out there and many users have found a perfect match among them. To say that Ubuntu is the greatest and best of all would probably be a mistake. It is on everyone individually to decide what is best for them.
However, as a distribution aimed at new GNU/Linux users, especially those coming from the world of Windows, Ubuntu appears to be leading the way and in my experience with its latest incarnation, justifiably so. The greatest strengths of Ubuntu Dapper are its new easy to use installer, the applications selection and how easy and fun it is to extend it with new software. What else can a computer user wish for than a free operating system that comes with a carefully preselected selection of applications for some of the most common needs of a desktop user and allows such an easy way to add even more to it. You have, almost literary, a whole universe of Free Software at your fingertips, practically just a click away.

Dapper also comes with a great new look which in no way lacks behind Windows Vista and Mac OS X, while changing the looks to what you want is as easy as anything, not to mention the magic of XGL that is available to those with good graphics card.

Ubuntu is out there on the borders between the GNU/Linux territory and the Windows territory and I believe it is and will continue to be successful at converting an ever larger number of Windows users into happy GNU/Linux users. Just look at the blogs they've been writing.

It is indeed a good choice to get nuxified with Ubuntu Dapper 6.06! Eye

Thank you

Comments

Ubuntu naming..

 

It seems that a lot of distro reviewers have missed the concept of Ubuntu naming. Ubuntu 6.06 means year 2006, month 6.

Warty Warthog = 4.10 = October 2004 (not April 2010 Smiling)
Hoary Hedgehog = 5.04 = April 2005
Breezy Badger = 5.10 = October 2005
Dapper Drake originally = 6.04 = April 2006 (around the 20th)
Dapper Drake release = 6.06 = June 2006

I don't know where you've read the thing about a May release. It has to my knowledge never been mentioned from official Ubuntu people.

Other than that it's a good review.

Mathias-K of Ubuntuforums.org..

Thank you for these

Thank you for these corrections Mathias, I appreciate it.

I apologize for getting it wrong. I'll fix the article. Smiling

Bootloader

 

I've installed Ubuntu Dapper several times, and it detected my Windows XP installation and made it available through GRUB each time. I don't know why it failed to detect your other distro.

agreed regarding Grub

 

I am disappointed when given zero options during the Grub install. An advanced option of some sort would be most useful. It may work for most but for me (intel mac) it failed miserably.

Where did it install grub?

Where did it install grub? In the MBR or in one of the partitions you installed ubuntu to?

sidenote: anonymous posting

[offtopic]

I have temporarily enabled anonymous posting for those who don't want to register (though registering of course is encouraged). It is normally disabled to fend off spammers, but I'll be hovering over and watching so it can be enabled for a bit for this article. Smiling

Now you have choice.

Daniel

[/offtopic]

One thing about installing Linux...

 

It's always worried me that I have to make decisions beforehand about how big the partitions are and such. It would be nice if you could just point it at which drive to install and then not have to think about it again. Will this ever be a reality?

Unable to install 6.06

 

I've used the live portion of the CD on my Thinkpad T40 without and glitches but whenever I do the install it freezes about halfway through. I've tried it on a free partition and the whole drive but it always freezes about 55% through. I've burned 2 seperate copies from 2 seperate ISOs using Nero 6. Any ideas? Great review.

If you don't have an

 

If you don't have an existing OS, then yes you can just tell it to automatically decide what to do.

The problem is if you want to keep an existing Windows install on the same drive, where you'll have to either use it's automatic resize feature or manually configure.

Good job

 

I've read I don't know how many Ubuntu blogs and articles and such lately, and I've found the vast majority of them to be FUD-ladden Linux fanboy rants. Thanks for doing quite the opposite! I consider myself... dare I say it in public... a fan of Windows. I do however have three different Linux installs that I use on a fairly regular basis (maybe an hour a day roughly), so I'm fairly familiar with a couple of distros. I tried to install Ubuntu a few versions back and it simply did not work (tried on an unremarkable laptop and also on a relatively recent desktop)... reading your article though, I'm downloading Dapper ISOs right now because I want to give it another shot. I just can't imagine using any Linux I've ever seen on a regular basis as my primary OS, I think they all have quite a ways to go before I'd consider it, but Dapper sounds like a good step in the right direction, and good, unbiased articles/blogs like this help people like me want to give it a shot. Thanks!

Grub issues with other distros

 

I've never seen any grub/distro install that took into account that you may have multiple distro installs on a single system for testing.

What I would suggest based on my experiences is;

1. Go into your /root/grub of your existing distro and copy out the grub.conf and/or menu.lst files or print them out.

2. Install Ubuntu

3. After install is complete and you have logged back into Ubuntu go into /root/grub and modify the new grub.conf / menu.lst and add in the information for your other distro to the menu and save.

Since you are not overwriting the partitions you have your other distro on, this should work just fine.

Try XFS for your filesystem

 

Give XFS a try for your filesystem and then report back to us on the 'stability' of Ubuntu.

I dropped it right back on its head when I attempted to instal it and I switched right back to my trusty old PCLinuxOS, the original LiveCD installing distro Smiling

Ubuntu just doesn't do it for me yet. Perhaps next release?

linux suxks

 

hey man
whatever

dapper just fudged up my partitions without me choosing that sh*t

hdd1 part1,2,3
hdd2 part1,2

i select hdd1,part3, it formats that, and installs, but
for some friggin reason 40 gb of free space from hdd2 disappeared

thankx dapper, good job with the stupid installer,
thats why it aint never going to reach popularity.
face it
windows is better
even friggin mac is better
linux is for people who have alot of time to waste wackin off to terminal scripts.

oh and good job with the ipv6 bullsht that slows down the godamn web or router or whatever

lmao

 

Trolls can't install windows any easier. Eye

Dapper install after Breezy Badger

 

Relative Linux newbie so excuse the possibly daft question, but if I already have the previous Ubuntu release installed, how do I upgrade to the latest version?

Cheers,
Tony

Partitioning

 

It's a reality now on most of the major distros. Most installers give you the option of using a default partitioning scheme on the drive selected for installation.

Tony, you have to update

Tony, you have to update your /etc/apt/sources file by changing all instances of "breezy" to "dapper". After that is done do the following:

sudo apt-get update

That will update your database to dapper.

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

This will upgrade your entire system (all software you have included) to the newest versions that match Dapper.

Any Ubuntu gurus please confirm that I didn't miss anything here. Smiling

Thanks
Danijel

Upgrade to Dapper

 

To upgrade you can either do a new install or choose to upgrade through your software update screen after updating your repos.

ignorance

 

it's safe to say someone who says linux sucks is quite ignorant especially after judging linux as a whole only after attempting to install one distro. ubuntu is shaping up to be quite the formidable distro. and their synaptic add remove programs feature is a hell of a lot faster than suse's YaST. highly recommended. i might actually switch from debian to this seeing that its built off of it anyway only with more goodies.

I guess its all a matter of

 

I guess its all a matter of perspective, I can't imagine using windows on a regular basis for my primary OS.

Smiling

Trolls rule!

 

Ever thought why Ubuntu-folks face so many trolls? I mean, looks like more than most of the other Linux-users...

RE: Trolls rule!

 

GNU/Linux as a an operating system has been trolled the last 7/8 years by the "windows press". The trolling was pretty ugly back in the beginning, when gnu/linux first became usable by non-programmers.
As ubuntu is the leading popular distribution right now, and entering the fabled arena of the desktop, it's expected to be trolled again by the same press. The article called "6 things to know about linux" is the beggining, and it's a perfect example of FUD (search for what the acronym means)).
As far as people trolling every ubuntu news/comment/article, go figure...

Stop installing Ubuntu for a moment

 

Stop installing this piece of crap! It'll ruin your computer, please refer to the ubuntuforums.org website and see for yourself the rants of the miserable users!

I see nothing special at

I see nothing special at ubuntuforums.org. -1.

Thank you.

 

Nice review.

Grand Review

Grand review Daniel, the release version of 6.06 looks very good from it Smiling

good review

 

I am a long time Mandriva user, but have installed Kubuntu for a test run.
It's a very good distro. I have nothing bad to say, except.....
Not giving us a choice as to where to install the bootloader is a very dumb decision .
Ubuntu is taking away or freedom with this, just like microsoft does. Sorry guys.

Secondly, if you want to install ADSL, you have to go to the command line and run pppoeconf.
New users will look for it for hours, as they expect it in the GUI somewhere.

For the rest......I am enjoying it.

And to "some" windows users....!
I have been with MS since DOS 1.
I got no problem whats-o-ever using windows.
I use linux for 2 years now, and you don't get me back to windows , not even with a bazooka to my head.

Thanks guys for nice

Thanks guys for nice comments. Smiling

Great review

 

Great review and I will add that I am very pleased with Dapper Drake as well. The upgrade from Breezy Badger was smooth and now my system is much more responsive than before. Totally worth it.