If I could sum up my experience with installing Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, it would be “unbelievably fast and straightforward” where I had already completed both the installation and the fiddling of settings and packages within half-a-day.
That is from absolutely nothing to the same functional setup I was using on my previous installation in half-a-day! Updating and downloading 3rd party plugins was problem-free and a second session with the Update Manager after booting into Precise Pangolin properly ensured my operating system would be at its maximum health in security holes and bugs.
As I have been fiddling with Ubuntu as my primary operating system since 2008, I find myself venturing forth with more elaborate tweaks with every different iteration. I shall describe the installation procedure I have carried out in chronological order, although some tasks were carried out simultaneously they have been categorised as if I were performing them sequentially for simplicity.
For this round, I decided to partition my hard drive into the following partitions during the installation process:
- The “
/"partition for the Oneiric.
"/"partition for Precise.
- A huge chunk of the hard disk as a shared home folder I now name the Vault for the purposes of this guide to my setup.
- A swap partition.
My partition settings were customised such that the home folder for the installed operating systems were now symbolically linked to the Vault.
Since the Vault was not designated as belonging to any particular partition type to be used by the system at start-up, it would not be automatically mounted. This would be a problem as I desired to symlink my Pictures, Music, Videos, Compile and other folders to the Vault from the home folder in Precise Pangolin. The fix to this problem proved to be elegantly easy.
First I identified the partitions I wished to mount at start-up by first mounting the partitions via Nautilus by clicking on their icons in the sidebar.
Next, I ran the mount command to give me the device name. For example:
/dev/sda6 on /media/a14cb5de-4a9f-44bb-a59f-63c2dedc4950 type ext4 (rw,nosuid,nodev,uhelper=udisks)
In this instance, I figured out that the device I wish to automatically mount can be found at /dev/sda6. Note that a less geeky method of finding out the device location is to run System Monitor and switch over to the File Systems tab.
Now to automatically mount the drives is as simple as adding the commands for mounting the partitions I need to the rc.local file.
sudo gedit /etc/rc.local
Whereupon the following commands were added before the “exit 0″ line:
/usr/bin/udisks –mount /dev/sda6
/usr/bin/udisks –mount /dev/sda1
Reboot and see if it works, and if not check for spelling errors.
A bunch of general maintenance work followed. The most important of which was to add PPAs to updated packages of my favourite software, which included Clementine and Deluge.
I had previously backed up my repositories using the Y PPA Manager as recommended by the Web Up8 team.
First of all, I highly recommend turning on the Ubuntu Indicator that is to be found in the settings page of Y PPA Manager. Otherwise, like me, you may find yourself confused by the apparent lack of any indication of activity. I would have preferred a terminal to pop up with the commands running, but the indicator notifying me when certain tasks have been completed was good enough.
Under Advanced, I had previously backed up my repositories in Oneiric. In Precise, I only had to quickly restore them, re-enable them, and update the release names from Oneiric to Precise. A simple process that saved me a huge amount of time where I would have previously searched and added the repositories one at a time.
It helps that the other commands are sentences rather than single word choices for you to guess their meaning, so if after running the standard “sudo apt-get update” in the terminal, the common problems like duplicate repositories and missing GPG keys can be resolved without further hassle.
And after installing Synaptic Package Manager, I could head straight away towards installing all my favourite programmes without needing to bother about adding most PPAs anymore.
I have some inkling on how the latest builds of MPlayer2 exceed that of the one to be found in the official repositories, and have even once added the PPA for the latest builds which conveniently came with the latest SMPlayer2 build. However, I eventually went back to building the packages myself because I had somehow managed to entangle the libraries being used by MPlayer2 with the standard libraries in Ubuntu.
To prevent potentially disastrous breakage, I went back to using the compiled from source version.
Since I had a Compile folder for all the software I wished to build from source, it was as simple an affair as copying the folder to its new location in the Vault to be symbolically linked to the Home folder.
A preliminary test of lines from a script I had specifically written to update and install FFMpeg with x264 following the installation instruction here showed that I had made no errors in my folder hierarchy although I had a few missing dependencies which were quickly resolved.
As much as I like Unity and HUD, they are still unable to stop me from installing the Awesome Windows Manager. A lightweight, highly customisable, though less pretty desktop environment. Over the past two months, I have found myself defaulting to Awesome most of the time because of its speed.
There would be no lag in using Firefox and Deluge at the same time (considering I am using a budget laptop model originating from 2010) unlike what the case would be on the other major desktop environments (Gnome, KDE, and Unity). In fact, playing videos while running Deluge and Firefox along with a myriad of instances of other programs left no impact on the performance of my laptop.
I still haven’t figured out how to launch a few programs properly (Wine Bottle Management comes to mind) in Awesome, but it is now good enough to be my preferred windows manager — until I earn enough money to get myself a System 76 laptop.
Synaptic is still my preferred means of installing applications. It works really well in finding the packages I need along with the dependencies quickly. A complaint with the Ubuntu Software Centre I have is the same as that I hold for Unity or Gnome Shell — speed and responsiveness.
Sound Bug Fixed
Finally, after tolerating a strange bug that makes the use of headphones with audio jacks absolutely useless since 2010, I can finally lay this bug to rest.
Someone somewhere released a fix which has made its way to Precise Pangolin. It is unfortunate that I do not know who it was who helped to patch the bug, so I will just issue a general statement of gratitude to the Ubuntu community for fixing a great annoyance.
The only other annoying thing left unfixed would be the inability to easily adjust brightness settings on my laptop. Though at this stage, I am not as bothered by the problem any more because I have gotten used to it.
Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin has been at present, the best desktop experience I have ever had. It’s fast, highly customisable, with a solid back-end where my only complaints are hardware related.
The installation process has been the smoothest of all in memory, particularly when compared to the disastrous bug from Oneiric that caused the installation to crash if one chose to install 3rd party packages while upgrading because of problems with the Flash package.
If you have the time you should consider installing Ubuntu today. If you do not have the time, but would love to try it anyway without the hassle of setting it up, I am for hire in you are staying in the Penang area (subject to change).