Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Ubuntu crashing down on me

Day 2 of the Ubuntu experience. One of the first things to do after the default install would be to make sure you have all the available security updates. Ubuntu immediately warns about that as well. ln my case 130 updates were waiting. It took only 15 minutes to download the lot. 30 minutes later the system stalled because it froze on installing capplets-data. The hard reboot left me with a Gnome desktop that wouldn’t load.
I took the non-linux nerd road of reinstalling Ubuntu and running the update again. It could have been an error on my part and I need to replicate the error from the perspective of the average Windows user. Well, it was not my error but a problem with the updater. For the book I need to start looking for a fix.
Another reinstall followed and I decided to forego the update option. I wanted to expand Ubuntu with kde and xfce. And some extra software to go with that. Again I took the lazy route. The applications menu has the entry add/remove software.  Being a software glutton I immediately ticked the two boxes for universe/multiverse and commercial applications, both repositories with the disclaimer about being unsupported.
I spend the next twenty minutes to select all kinds of applications. This to some irritating on the fly updates. when I dicked an application from universe, and later multiverse, only then did the system decide to refresh the available applications list.  An earlier refresh affo ticking both boxes seems more logical. A nuisance, nothing  else. Then “okay”. ‘You need to fix the broken packages first’. Broken? Which ones? And the add/remove software  application closed town on me. I fired it up again and pressed the Advanced button, which brought me to Synaptic.
With Synaptic it was easy to select KDE to install since it had it’s own entry. XfcE did not have that, but a search was easy enough. Only then did I realise that the add/remove option excluded both desktops.  You can install software packages but no new window managers. Synaptic is a great advanced solution. The choice for a    simplified add/remove is understandable and acceptable. Relatively new users are not swamped with options. Who would want three window managers when you are used to one anyway?
After installing the two window managers, I chose a plethora of applications. Synaptic did a marvelous job and all packages were downloaded and installed. Marvelous, but not perfect because some packages broke during install (like gstreamer) without so much as a warning.
At the end of the day Old Faithful had a  fat Ubuntu install with three window  managers, three office suites, and a load of smaller utilities. And all that in only 4 Gb.
Judging this proces from the perspective of the windows migrant, it is unacceptable that two key functions, the update and add/remove software, run into snags. Especially who it leaves you with a non-functioning desktop. No doubt it can be fixed simply using the console. But this might prove a bit too daunting for new migrant.


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