The Spectre of Math

November 12, 2009

New computer (Zareason) and Karmic

Filed under: Linux,Personal,Technology — jlebl @ 4:13 pm

So my old dell has reached an old age where I was starting to be afraid the harddisk would go (some of the SMART disk parameters were getting pretty high, I didn’t ever worry in the days before I knew what these were). I suppose I could just replace the HD, but also the screen hinge was slowly going as well, as seems to be a problem with dells (at least for me).

I considered buying a dell with linux, but none of the specs looked good, and the specs that did look good didn’t ship with linux. I wanted a smaller laptop but with a decent resolution. I don’t need a graphics powerhouse I don’t play games. I had the 15 inch monstrocity. The new 15 inch inspirons had even a worse resolution (what’s wrong with these people, I don’t care how wide my screen is, make it high enough so that things fit, especially with the current UI, height is at a premium. I feel like new laptops are the equivalent of driving a tank). And the 15 inch inspirons are heavy. They also have the 13 inch studio, but that sucked for different reasons. And there were no other choices.

So scrap dell. I looked at System76 and Zareason. I was a little bit skeptical as I had before been burned by a bad “linux preinstalled laptop.” I finally decided for Zareason Alto 2550. The machine is very cool and so far no problems with the hardware. Karmic has had several issues already (such as CDs not moounting) that have been fixed by updating to the latest -proposed.


1) Zareson is very cool. They even sent me screwdriver with the laptop so that I could open it and look inside (of course I did just that). The machine is lighter than the inspiron, the screen is the same height but shorter. The keyboard takes a bit getting used to (that is once I’m used to the inspiron location of keys), but it is good. There is a fingerprint reader which apparently doesn’t work without some proprietary nonsense, but who cares, it’s not something I’ll be using anyway. Of course it is a generic barebones laptop that zareason just put together, so they don’t have 100% control of the hardware. The barebones hardware is MSI-made as far as I can tell. The ubuntu key ont he keyboard is cool, even though it is achieved by a sticker. And I finally don’t have to peel off the windows sticker from a new laptop (there is an ubuntu sticker).

2) Ubuntu should probably make the stabilization period longer. Hold off another 2-3 weeks, make another one or two release candidates with deep freeze. All the geeks will upgrade to release candidates anyway, so it is not an argument (actually geeks will generally update in the alpha stage). I usually update during beta sometime. A final ubuntu release should be more polished. And it seems it always gets polished in another few weeks past release, so waiting a few more weeks would result in far less bad publicity. When reading the buglists, it always seems that many bugs are found just before release, but the fix cannot be pushed through in time. This says to me that the release is too early. And this has always been the case with ubuntu, it’s nothing new with karmic. But as ubuntu is getting more widely adopted, the new userbase will be far less forgiving of problems in a “released” version which should be stable.

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  1. I totally agree with you. Also, I think Ubuntu should change their release cicle to one year instead of six months and integrate PPA as a standard part of the app instalation, so, you can always install the latest version.

    Comment by Norbert — November 13, 2009 @ 7:28 pm | Reply

    • That would be another solution. I don’t think necessarily half a year release cycle is bad. Having lots of points where you have to stabilize is good. The thing is that you should give more time for the stabilization. You can already start working on the new version when the previous version is in release candidate. You’re at that point just going to do critical fixes to the release candidate.

      But with the PPA thing I agree (or with something like it). It should not be necessary to upgrade the whole distro to keep up with a single app. Not every app fits into the 6 month schedule.

      Comment by jlebl — November 13, 2009 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  2. For Lucid we’re having 2 beta releases so hopefully people who are scared off by the word “alpha” will upgrade and report bugs at a time when it’s actually possible to still have a chance at getting those bugs fixed by release. A bug report two weeks before release isn’t all that helpful. Unless it’s for something critical and perfectly describes the issue in a way that makes the fix obvious…fixing it before release is pretty unlikely.

    Comment by Mackenzie — December 1, 2009 @ 6:19 am | Reply

    • But if you push the final release say 2-3 extra weeks further down past the freeze, then critical bugs have more time to fix. Perhaps, do a RC type release in the same manner as the real release is now, then relax the freeze just as it is normally after release, then freeze again and release the real thing. It would be no more work, you’d hold off on pasting the final label on the thing. Work could internally already begin on the next version by then, just like it does now. You simply postpone calling it finished.

      I think it is unfortunate that lots of people are recommending that especially new users do not install or upgrade immediately after release, but hold off for a month or so. Ubuntu is rather unstable right after release generally (I have almost always had some problems with the freshly released version) but it’s true that the kinks get ironed out quick. That’s something that needs to be overcome as ubuntu pushes to a wider audience than it has now.

      Comment by jlebl — December 1, 2009 @ 1:43 pm | Reply

  3. Oh, also, Lucid is syncing from Debian Testing, not Debian Unstable, this time.

    Oh yeah, hardware incompatibility bug reports are especially unlikely to be fixed by release if reported too late. The kernel freezes a few weeks earlier than a lot of other stuff.

    Comment by Mackenzie — December 1, 2009 @ 6:24 am | Reply

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