I discovered yet one more reason for my insistence that Linux is still not ready for primetime as as desktop operating system. Until recently, my biggest complaint was the lousy support for wireless cards using the Broadcom chip sets. However, the version of Ubuntu Linux and the kernel I have installed now appears to have finally resolved this issue (at least for the ancient 802.11b/11g card in my laptop). So much for that…on to my next rant.
I recently completed a major update of my oldest internal Linux Server here at hrpr.com. The server, whose name is Doofus, is hosted on a Dell Dimension XPS T500 that has been in service here since April 1999.
For the last eight years, Doofus has been running Slackware, which is a hard-core, no-frills, very stable Linux distribution that has been around since dirt was new. If you aren't on speaking terms with command line shells such as Bash and are not familiar with the Linux Directory Structure and its contents, then Slackware is probably not for you.
Back to the update stuff...
I was getting ready to download the latest, greatest version of Slackware and install it on Doofus when it suddenly occurred to me that I had recently downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu Linux and had made an installation CD-ROM for it. It was the Desktop Edition, but as a local test server, it would do just fine. I was also curious to see how GNOME would perform on a Pentium III with 256M of RAM. After all, I was essentially starting with a blank slate and could revert back to Slackware if I really wasn't satisfied with Ubuntu.
I just finished updating my laptop from Ubuntu 7.10 to the new Ubuntu 8.04 release. All went well except for one thing. In addition to many other improvements, Ubuntu 8.04 installed a new version (2.6.24-16) of the Linux kernel. Now this would seem to be a good thing. But, once again a Linux distribution failed my "Ready for Prime Time" test...which is to provide me with a working 802.11b/g, or "Wi-Fi," interface with little or no pain my part.
For the last month or so, I've been working at home for a change. So my laptop has been on vacation for a while. I decided today that I had better fire it up and get it online before the queue of pending updates from Microsoft became any longer. I booted to the Win XP partition and as expected there were about 12 or so critical updates from Microsoft's latest monthly "Patch Tuesday" waiting to have their way with my laptop. So, I once again let the Microsoft updater run amok and fix all those things it thought was broken. Once the "Patch-O-Rama" completed, I figured I had better boot up the laptop's alter ego (Ubuntu) to make sure the Linux partition was not too upset from the lack of attention I had been giving it these past few weeks...
Unbuntu loaded and all was well. I checked a couple of web sites I had recently made some cosmetic changes to in order to make sure they displayed as expected with Linux and Firefox. And I noticed the "updates available" icon was trying to get my attention. I checked the updates and to my surprise there were 44 updates available, 22 of which were security updates!
Is this an anomaly or is Ubuntu on a mission to take the world record for patches per month away from Microsoft? ;-)