GSoC: Ubuntu Bootloader Manager 0.2

After all the great comments and suggestions from the last update and talking with Matthew Paul Thomas, my student Tomé Vardasca, has been redesigning the UI to be more new-user (and old-user for that matter) friendly as well as adding new functionality. You can get the latest code using bzr on Launchpad. You can also file bugs 🙂

Tomé and I are very much interested in feedback both on the UI and the features themselves . Note that to add new menu entries you need to have the os-prober package installed (it’s in Main) so that OS autodetection works.

Usual Disclaimer: This app is still very alpha, use at your own risk and make sure to make a backup of our grub config file (/boot/grub/menu.lst).


main windowAppearence tabSecurity tab

In Advanced mode you can also access a Preferences window for the individual menu items:


Menu shots:



Gutsy and openSUSE 10.3 Beta1: Part2

So the response to my first post was pretty overwhelming. It got picked up by, (I don’t know Danish but apparently somebody does),, and opensuse-project . Wow, it’s really interesting how information travels around our little cyber universe. The other cool thing is I didn’t receive and hate-mail or comment flames. Thanks for keeping it civil people.

OK, so I’ve got a little bit more openSUSE experience under my belt and wanted to talk a bit more about Gutsy:

  • First of all, I must clarify my last post and say that I found only the YaST package management painfully slow. The rest of YaST seemed fine.
  • Some numbers for zypper, an openSUSE CLI package manager (this is on a 1GZ P4 with 256MB RAM):
    • Removing a repo – 8s for Factory (non-oss) and 169s for Factory. Total 177s
    • Adding a repo – 1s for Factory (non-oss) and 2s for Factory. Total 3s
    • Refreshing the repos – 251s for Factory and Factory (non-oss) after adding above.
    • Searching takes considerably longer with zypper than with apt-cache. Actually installing packages though is basically the same. zypper also offers some nifty features like repo renaming so you can have a nice alias, repo enabling and disabling, and two different package update schemes, packages (whole package) or patches (more like a binary debdiff) although that is not a zypper-specific feature.
  • I’ve had a lot of problems with zypper/YaST from the Gnome Beta1 install. Lots of cache problems, etc. I had to remove all the repos and readd them, but now they work.
  • The KDE version of openSUSE Beta1 is very nice. It works very smooth and I love the menu. KNetworkManger works very well (no such luck on the Gnome side unfortunately) and I can logout (apparently there was a Gnome bug that prevented logout that has since been fixed). The only negative I have about the KDE version is that my laptop’s touchpad is acting funky. It loves to double-click at the slightest touch and and Firefox keeps going back in the history on me.
  • 3D Desktop. Ubuntu developers have been working on compiz (compiz-fusion now?) to see if it can be enabled by default for Gutsy. Lots of progress has been made, but a recent email to ubuntu-devel suggests that there might be too many regressions to turn it on by default. The ease with which the desktop effects can be turned on or off however is definitely worth at least publicizing the 3D desktop features for Gutsy, even if we can’t enable it by default.
  • libgimme-codec has been replaced by built-in gstreamer functionality. I don’t listen to much music or watch movies much on my laptop, but when I do I want them to work. With Gutsy (and Feisty for that matter), when I do a fresh install and go to play an mp3 in Rhythmbox it pops up a dialog box that asks me if I want to install the needed codec. It doesn’t get much cooler then that in an Free and Open Source distro. [Edit] apparently the gstreamer codec detection doesn’t work for Rhythmbox (it would be very cool if somebody was able to fix this for Gutsy) but does work for Totem.
  • Gutsy now has the ubuntu-restricted-extras metapackage (also for kubuntu and xubuntu) that installs mp3 and other codecs, LAME, MS fonts, Java, Flash, and DVD support. One package to install, that easy.
  • For education-oriented people, Edubuntu is really going to see some great improvements. I wish the people in the openSUSE Education project well and am really glad to see it, but my guess is it’s going to take them quite some time to get to where Edubuntu is now.

I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be said, but these are some of the things important to me. Feel free to leave comments (civil ones anyway) about what you’ve read here or want to add. I’m really keen now to see how openSUSE 10.3 and Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon turn out. Rock on!

Gutsy and openSUSE 10.3 Beta1

So, I’ve been kinda thinking lately that I could really be good for me to broaden my Linux horizons. I’ve been so focused on Ubuntu for a couple years now I haven’t had a chance to see much of what’s going on elsewhere in the Linux Universe.

Anyway, last night I installed openSUSE 10.3 Beta1 on a spare 10GB partition I had on my laptop. I’m not going to do any indepth review or anything, but I’d like to share just a few thoughts from my, maybe more developer biased, perspective:

  • The installer is quite nice graphically. It does make me appreciate the simplicity of Ubiquity though. It requires quite a bit more supervision. A big plus for openSUSE was how well it handled Grub. I was expecting to have to mess around with a clobbered grub config to get everything (openSUSE, Ubuntu, and Windows XP) to boot properly. I was pleasantly surprised on first reboot with a very nice looking openSUSE-themed grub that had my Ubuntu and Windows entries already there. I didn’t have to touch a thing or do anything during the install. Beautiful.
  • openSUSE has split 10.3Beta1 into a Gnome CD, KDE CD, and non-OSS CD. I like this approach. As we’ve been talking lately about the naming scheme for *buntu, I was impressed with how consistent openSUSE made it all. I did one install with the Gnome CD and one with the KDE CD. Aside from the panel, they pretty much feel the same. Similar color scheme, same wallpaper, etc. Very nice.
  • The artwork and overall look-n-feel in 10.3 Beta1 is very nice. Bootup is smooth. The only thing I have to criticize here is that I can’t figure out if openSUSE is supposed to be green or blue 🙂 And I really do like the brown/orange in Ubuntu. Gutsy doesn’t feel as revolutionary in artwork as Fedora 7 or openSUSE 10.3 .
  • There are a lot of system administration tools. It’s a bit overwhelming and if I was a new user switching from another OS I’d be a bit confused, but for power users there are a lot of cool tools.
  • My laptop has an Atheros wifi card and ATI graphics so I find it a pretty decent test of how distros handle the “binary blob” problem. Ubuntu simply rocks in this regard (I didn’t even know until Restricted Manager came along that my wifi card needed madwifi). openSUSE doesn’t handle madwifi automatically but has a reasonably easy way to get it going, involving a good wiki page and 2 rpms to download and install. Fedora 7 failed abysmally when it came to madwifi.
  • Package management in Yast totally sucks. This is something that I think the openSUSE devs are working on, but adding a repo or even installing packages is very very painful in Yast. The plus side is that the zypper package manager is tons better. This is a least on the same order as apt in terms of speed and being able to do packaging basics (install, search, remove, upgrade).
  • The openSUSE Build Service seems to allow for cool grouping of packages. I’m interested in Education and Science so I looked around the Build Service and found repos for both topics.
  • Even with Build Service, there are a whole lot of packages I’m used to seeing in the Debian/Ubuntu repos that just don’t exist in the openSUSE repo. I’m not sure if this is a product of Novell’s focus on the desktop or what, but it’s both discouraging and a challenge to people wanting to contribute to openSUSE.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the progress openSUSE has made. I found the amount of “breakage” in the development version (Beta1) to be roughly similar to Gutsy. I think I’ll try to track openSUSE until 10.3 is released (early in October I think) and see how it all shapes up. I find openSUSE development to be a bit hazy still. I haven’t figured out how often Factory (the development repo) gets updated.

To summarize, for me openSUSE wins on artwork/consistency and configuration tools and Ubuntu wins on hardware setup and package management. Overall Linux is progressing awesomely and I’m proud of how Linux is innovating on the desktop. \o/

Probably stuff you already know, but maybe not.

quick thoughts today

So, it seems like there’s a lot going on around Ubuntu. Here’s just some things I’ve been thinking about lately:

  • Django looks sweet. I love their tagline: “The Web framework for perfectionists with deadlines”. I ran through the tutorial on the Django website, very cool. Gutsy has the latest release of django so I just installed it and sqlite3 for database. Nifty.
  • Martin Pitt (pitti) is totally cool, and one of my Linux heros. He’s always helpful and works so hard to make sure Ubuntu releases come out right. Everybody should give him a hug the next time they’re online. 🙂
  • I got to do a little work getting Edubuntu Tribe 4 out the door. I don’t think people realize how tough it is to get a release, even an alpha release, together. This is especially true when trying to get Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Edubuntu, Xubuntu all out together. Even something as simple as making sure the .iso fits on a CD can become a bit of a task.
  • The work I did implementing the Edubuntu Addon CD enhancements spec has shown up in Tribe 4. This provides new metapackages (edubuntu-addon-*) and a customized gnome-app-install menu for the Edubuntu Addon CD (yes, Edubuntu now ships on 2 CDs since Feisty).
  • The Documentation Team’s docuMENTORS program has really taken off. I think one of the keys is to be very responsive to the initial “I wanna help, what do I do?” and to quickly plug people into some specific. Thanks a ton to Phil Bull for heading this up.
  • Ubuntu US is rocking the United States. There are only 6 states without an Ubuntu LoCo team at least started. Sweet! Keep it up folks. Thanks especially to the Ubuntu US mentors helping the LoCos out.
  • This blog has hit 30 posts and 100 comments. I wonder what the average post:comment ratio is around the blogosphere.

Ubuntu NV in the house!

Well, kinda. Today at the Ubuntu US team meet-n-greet I decided to get an Ubuntu Nevada LoCo team formed. I know, I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “But I thought he was on vacation?” Yes, and I’m still trying to be. I’m just acting in an interim capacity to get things started until people can take over the project. Plus, the chants of “Do it! Do it!” in #ubuntu-us were too much peer pressure 🙂

So, if you’re in Nevada then please consider joining the Ubuntu NV team on Launchpad, I need your help!

IRC: #ubuntu-nevada on
Mailing List: ubuntu-us-nv on (coming soon)