$ uname -a

I’m still cleaning up around here. Excuse the mess. I don’t mean for there to be so many extraneous “pages” when I’m mostly just aiming to create a blog roll.

I recently installed Ubuntu 18.04 on both my desktop and my laptop. My capsule review is “it’s very good” but some additional detail may be warranted:

I don’t miss Unity as much as I thought I would.

I’ve dabbled in a lot of distros over the past 13 or 14 years, and Ubuntu has had the most staying power. I eventually accepted Unity after becoming familiar with Gnome 2, and never quite enjoyed Mate, so when Ubuntu chose to abandon Unity in favor of Gnome 3, I was skeptical. It looks like Ubuntu’s Gnome deployment is sufficiently well-refined, however.

Most things “just work,” more or less as I expected.

Some things don’t quite work 100%, but here are some remedies. (I’ll split these into separate, more detailed posts later.)

  • If you want to install Caffeine (yes, please), don’t install it by repository; it doesn’t work. Install the package chrome-gnome-shell, add the browser extension for Gnome Shell Extensions via your browser’s addons site, then browse to the Gnome Shell Extensions page and add it there.
  • If you use Discord, use the snap installer, or plan to do some ugly work-arounds to fix the libfreetype issue (mangled fonts). I recommend the snap installer; just open a terminal and type snap install discord, provide your password (privilege escalation to install), and done.
  • When you’re using Discord, whether by snap or deb package, you’ll find that the tray icon is missing. I don’t yet know what the problem is, but you can disable the tray icon from Discord’s Linux settings for the time being. (If you don’t, you run the risk of opening multiple instances of Discord, which is probably more annoying than truly problematic, but I digress.)
  • Ubuntu’s desktop installer lacks the robust partitioning options afforded the server installer (or the alternate installer in years past). Because I have a pair of mechanical hard drives that I want to run striped (RAID 0), I either have to do some ugly stuff in the desktop installer to “make it work” (no) or run the server installer. After doing the server install, I discovered that the network interfaces are managed differently than before, and turning control over to NetworkManager (i.e., after installing the ubuntu-desktop metapackage) meant changing Netplan configuration. This will definitely need to be handled in a separate post, but the short version is you replace the yaml file in /etc/netplan with a simple one giving control to NetworkManager. The official Netplan site has the three lines you need to put into such a file (scroll down).
  • The package libav-tools has been obsoleted by ffmpeg, which is fine and dandy for most folks’ needs, but if you run Bitwig (as I do), you’ll need to resolve the dependency Bitwig has on this package. I know this isn’t the savviest answer, but I grabbed libav-tools for Ubuntu 17.10 and installed it manually; et voila.

Gaming with an AMD GPU is smooth af.

I have been using Nvidia cards until recently on my Linux builds, so this was relatively new territory for me. Without installing a proprietary driver, I was able to get excellent framerates out of my Steam library. I had a lot of driver updates, downloads, reboots, &c with Windows; not here. I’ll happily concede that Windows gaming performance reigns supreme, but I have yet to experience in Windows the degree of stability and multitasking robustness witnessed on a long-term support release of any mainline distro; I can game, serve, and virtualize without incident here, and it all works very well.

If you’re willing to sign up for it, you can get kernel live patching from Canonical.

You can have up to three computers receive kernel live patches for free. (More than three incurs a cost.) What does that mean? Even fewer reboots! When a vulnerability is discovered, kernel patches can be applied at runtime and keep your system up without running exposed.

X.org lives on. That’s OK.

Wayland is the hot new thing but it’s not quite ready for prime-time, IMO. I’m sure Ubuntu 18.04 will be the last version to rock X.org by default, and it comes with five years of support, so X.org will probably be around until 2023 or later. That might disappoint some, but I discovered some serious problems with Wayland and VirtualBox before, and I’m happy to stick with X.org until that gets weeded out.

In brief, this is my favorite Ubuntu release since 10.04.

I can’t help but gush about how solid the new LTS is. But, to be fair, it’ll need a few months of real-world testing to prove that it’s solid. I think some people are having a rougher time with it than I am, and just as well, YMMV; for my needs, it’s going to be a good couple years ahead.


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