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Fragmented Development


Note: Update at the bottom of this post.

After feeling the age of my current PC, I decided it was time for a new build. I built the last couple PCs I've owned, either from salvage or from scrap, and I didn't see any problem with continutng the tradition. After four packages and a couple hours of assembly time, it was complete: my masterful new PC. All that remained was to install the latest version of Kubuntu (8.04 at the time), which was conveniently released that day.

This was a colossal mistake.

I've built half a dozen machines, and more often than not I run into a problem doing so. Something might have been damaged during shipping, the specifications had changed while I wasn't looking - it doesn't matter what it was, but something usually goes wrong. It's part of the territory. You deal with it, and you move on.

The same thing can be said for installing/upgrading to new operating systems, especially Linux flavors. Something usually goes wrong, whether it's a kernel bug or a hardware incompatibility. It's usually best to wait it out, and let the early adopters iron out the bugs.

Apparently, this time around I'm going to have to iron out the bugs. Kubuntu installed, but only after switching to the alternate installation disk. The desktop version kept stalling at the partitioning phase. But with the alternate disk, I was presented with a working system that continued to work until I did something "hard". If I somehow used the processor or memory too much, the system froze solid and eventually had to be manually powered off.

At first, I thought this was a hardware issue. I tried to revert to the previous version of Kubuntu, 7.10, but that wouldn't work correctly with the new video card I was using. As a last resort, I put in Windows XP... which worked after I applied all of the 3rd party motherboard and graphics drivers. I had that ol' sinking feeling... to use my new fancy computer, I was going to have to use Windows.

I have two separate hard-drives in the new system, so the idea was that I would install Windows on the system drive, and keep the data partition formatted in Ext3. I could use the Ext3 driver for Windows until Linux supported my hardware, and then simply format the system drive and install Linux.

So, to format the data partition with Ext3, I decided to install Ubuntu. I'm definitely a KDE guy, but the KDE4 stuff doesn't really do anything for me. I try to take a look at Gnome every once and a while, just to keep up-to-date on it, and thought this would be a great way to do it. Install Ubuntu, fart around a little to get the lay of the land, and then install Windows again when it crashes.

Except it didn't crash. For some unknown reason, Ubuntu is just as stable as can be. I've been working for hours, stressing the system, and it's been fine. I won't have to resort to Windows, but I am somewhat forced into giving Gnome a try. Maybe it's fate (or maybe the LUGradio guys have finally found a way to bring down KDE...)

Update: Ubuntu has also had a nasty habit of restarting the window manager on me every once and a while, completely kicking me out of whatever I'm doing at the time. It looks like, for now, I'll have to run Windows XP on the new PC, and stick to Ubuntu on the old machine for all my work. Now, to try reporting my hardware to the appropriate people...

Tags: linux

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