Initial impression of Ubuntu 7.10

Thursday, 18 October 2007

It’s been quite a while since I last posted something on this blog, but two days ago I decided to install Ubuntu 7.10 (a.k.a. “Gutsy Gibbon”) on my laptop. And so I thought I might share my initial impressions.

The first thing I noticed is that the network manager (used for configuring wifi connections) no longer prompts the gnome-keyring-manager to ask me for a password every time I boot the computer. This is one of the biggest improvements, in my view.

Also when you surf to a flash site for the first time, you can now finally tell firefox to install the missing flash-plugin. You even get to choose between installing gnash or Adobe’s flash, which is very nice (but be sure to select Adobe’s flashplayer for now).

And I used the alternate installation CD for the installation, so I could configure the laptop hard drive to use encryption, which is yet another new feature in version 7.10. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do. At least now I don’t have to worry about people being able to get to my passwords, GnuPG secret keys, e-mail and other private data, if my laptop gets stolen or lost.

This is also the first Ubuntu system to finally correctly set the resolution to 1024×768 on my laptop. But although the new X configuration utility looks nice and simple, users who desire fine-grained control will still have to manually edit the xorg.conf file. Perhaps this utility will be improved in future releases.

And regrettably I have also discovered something to complain about. I began hearing the CPU fan come on constantly, which is very annoying, and so I ran the top command to find out the cause. Thus I noticed a process called “scrollkeeper-up” (=scrollkeeper-update) using over 80% of the available cpu cycles. After a little searching on google, I found a silly, but effective, hack to disable the scollkeeper-update program (it is not needed to run Ubuntu). I have even posted a question about this on the Ubuntu forum, but after 24 hours there are no replies (thread is located here).

For the time being I can ignore the problem. But of course when the scollkeeper program is included in a future software update, then I don’t know what is going to go wrong because of the quick and dirty fix I’m using.

Nevertheless, on the whole I’d say Ubuntu 7.10 is definitely a big improvement. (Well, so far anyway ;-)


Screenshot to illustrate fonts

Friday, 6 July 2007

In order to illustrate how good you can make Microsoft fonts look on a GNU/Linux distribution, such as Ubuntu in this case, I have uploaded a screenshot of my desktop. See also my recent post on configuring Ubuntu to use Microsoft fonts, for an example of how you can achieve similar results. I should have uploaded it when I submitted that previous blog entry, but I forgot. So here you have it.

A screenshot

How to get Microsoft Truetype fonts in Ubuntu 7.04 and make them look good

Sunday, 1 July 2007

When installing GNU/Linux, the first thing I need to do is install the Microsoft fonts. And things are no different with Ubuntu 7.04, so here I will explain the steps I take to achieve this.

Someone with username calande has posted a short and simple procedure on the Ubuntu forums to start with. Follow calande’s instructions exactly, and you will be well on your way to having those nice Microsoft fonts.

I personally prefer 8 point Tahoma fonts, and have accordingly adjusted the “Application font”, “Document font” and “Desktop font” settings in the GNOME font preferences application (System ==> Preferences ==> Font).

If at some time you’ve tried making the fonts look more like on Windows by opening the GNOME font preferences configuration tool and setting “Font Rendering” to “monochrome”, you should open it again now and quickly change it into something else, like “Best shapes” or “Subpixel smoothing”. Do not worry, the xml files you installed in the previous step override the settings here, for just the right font sizes. So only the large and bold fonts will get antialiased (fuzzy), whilst the small fonts remain nice and sharp and non-antialiased. Just like in Windows, or at least as near as possible.

While we have now come quite a long way, we are not yet quite finished. Because one thing I noticed with the way things are at this stage: the Microsoft Tahoma fonts have some seriously annoying artifacts. For example, the number “8” looks wrong, as it has an extra set of pixels activated in the top right side of the lower circle. Fortunately, there is a way to fix this.

To solve aforementioned problem, we turn once more to the wonderful Ubuntu forum, and in particular read the thread titled “Improved subpixel font rendering for Feisty”. I did things a little differently though, although the result is completely identical. Just follow the following instructions:

  1. First startup the software sources application (System ==> Aministration ==> Software Sources), you will be prompted for your password.
  2. Then select the “Third party software” tab, click on “Add …” and then add the following line

    deb feisty fonts

  3. Repeat step 2 if you wish to have access to the sources, only this time replace the “dep” part in the repository line with “deb-src”. However, I believe this is entirely optional for our needs.
  4. Next, start the update manager (System ==> Administration ==> Update Manager) and install the updates.
  5. Finally, restart X (or reboot if you wish). The fonts that looked bad earlier should look alright now.

And that’s it. Apart from small details, such as changing the fonts Firefox uses, the fonts should look much better.