Opinions on Ubuntu Revisited

by Jeff Langr

May 23, 2008

OK, Ubuntu is still pretty cool, but man, sound driver support is sad. My son, who purchased a SoundBlaster card for his machine, got his sound to work but could not get the microphone to work. I ended up in the same situation, except that I have an on-board Intel HDA sound processor.

The good thing is that lots and lots of people have posted on this topic. That’s also the bad thing, because (a) lots and lots of people have similar problems and (b) the resolutions are all over the map. I tried everything recommended, including downloading the latest ALSA drivers, rebuilding, and reinstalling, at which point my sound refused to work at all. Several hours later, I got the sound to work (I found a better posting which properlycovered the arguments to pass to the configure script before making) again. I tried a few more things, but my microphone still does not work (it works fine under Vista).

OK, so I’ll have to boot into Windoze to use Skype. But otherwise, all else appears to be running well. Next up, I intend on exploring Wine to run a few of the rare Windows programs that are outstanding.

One of the nicer aspects was the ease of keeping Windows around, which I need for a few reasons. While the Vista partition manager sucked (it would not do what it claimed it could do with respect to shrinking my partition), the Ubuntu installation made that a breeze. An important note, though: The partition resizing operation showed no feedback for a couple hours, so I wasn’t sure whether or not it was doing anything. I waited patiently, and was probably going to reboot in a few more minutes, but the app must have suspected my anxiety and finished promptly.

I can get at files from either side of the fence, meaning that I don’t have to worry about redundancies between Vista and Ubuntu. From Ubuntu, you can see NTFS drives by default, although you have to activate the ability to change them to be writeable. Under Windows, a quick search revealed the existence of Explore2fs, a nice little utility that can read ext2 and ext3 file systems. Unfortunately, it looks to involve copying to local temp files, but it’s better than nothing, and should cut down the number of reboots, particularly until I get everything settled in.

So Ubuntu is not going anywhere. Mentally, it’s now my primary OS, and Windows is just here as a necessary evil. I’m satisfied.

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Jeff Langr

About the Author

Jeff Langr has been building software for 40 years and writing about it heavily for 20. You can find out more about Jeff, learn from the many helpful articles and books he's written, or read one of his 1000+ combined blog (including Agile in a Flash) and public posts.