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Oops I Did It Again…

October 29th, 2011

One of these days I may actually learn my lesson when it comes to installing new software. Lately I’ve been busy with work and recovering from some surgery, so I haven’t really had the energy to focus on any of my personal programming projects. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of home network administration and software updates. In a multiple cases, I’m reminded of why being on the leading (bleeding?) edge of software may not always be the easiest place to be.

Ubuntu 11.10

I have long used a dual-interface Linux machine at the edge of my network to provide firewall, file server and other interesting services to the network. My old machine was getting pretty noisy and I was sure something was going to die and leave me in a bad situation. I bought a cheap new HP tower machine to replace the old machine and was tripped up on multiple things:

  • I didn’t think about the fact that my old network card would no longer fit in the machine due to bus changes. I was further surprised to find out that it was impossible to find a PCIExpress networking card without going online and waiting for delivery.
  • The latest Ubuntu installer guessed that the HP machine was using UEFI for bootloading and failed to boot Ubuntu. With lots of great help from the Ubuntu forums I was able to diagnose the issue and get grub-pc installed and the machine working.

This machine is up and running pretty well now after the false starts. I wish I could say the same for my Dell laptop. Every time a new version of Ubuntu comes out, I tell myself I’m not going to update for at least a month and that I should really wait a bit longer for the issues to shake out. Every time, I lose the battle to wait and end up regretting it after the fact. While Ubuntu 11.10 has some pretty nice new features, I ran up against new regressions that I had to work through.

Thanks to Canonical engineer Kamal Mostafa, I have a patched kernel to fix the backlight issue. Unfortunately, I’m still struggling with the wireless issue that kills my wireless router from time to time.

Cyanogen Mod 7.1

I was excited to see Cyanogen Mod 7.1 come out with support for my Samsung Captivate. I’m a fan of Android, but not a big fan of the crap-tacular software loaded on AT&T devices by default. The idea of installing a new ROM that was cleaner and faster was enticing. While the transition has been relatively smooth, I’m seeing some strange behavior with my external 32G SD card. I’m also having a hard time figuring out if the battery life is as good as it had been on the stock firmware. I need to do more digging to figure that out.

In the end, I don’t expect my habit of installing new software will likely change very soon. I usually try to avoid upgrading too early for mission critical hardware such as my work laptop. Admittedly half of the fun of installing new software is that you can usually dig yourself out of a hole if something goes wrong.

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