Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy) Beta bugs wrap-up

This is in my usual tradition of going over the bugs before an Ubuntu release. It’s a good time for Ubuntu, if I’d done this even last week I would have been more annoyed.

The most annoying bug of all has been around for quite some time, and may not be an Ubuntu bug at all, but rather a BIOS power management or disk firmware bug: bug 59695. This would be what cost me my last hard drive, which failed at a reported 1.7 million load cycles. The new drive is already at 2257, which is a bit high as well although I’ve tried various workarounds. The trouble with this one is that firstly the power saving settings of the drive appear to be totally opaque. Just try some numbers! Watch for high temperatures, although we don’t know what ‘high’ is for your particular drive, nor can we tell you how to work it out! My drive will probably last longer now, but the laptop is painful to touch after a while. Great.

Bug 194214 is quite seriously annoying too. For me (and I don’t use Compiz) it manifests as my Ctrl key being virtually ‘stuck’ down, so that if I press ‘q’ applications terminate, ‘d’ closes my shell, ‘Page Up’ switches tabs, ‘c’ sends SIGINT etc. An X restart is required to restore normality. The community is on this though, the report is quite impressive and git bisect has been used.

Bug 193970 is a regression from a user’s point of view, if not a programmer’s (for the latter, the important distinction is that it’s not actually the same software). The problem is that Ubuntu is now using the Free driver for the Intel 3945 wireless chipset (iwl3945), rather than the other one (ipw3945). iwl3945 doesn’t really support the ‘wireless off’ switch, well, at all, unless you consider rebooting after using it an acceptable solution. This isn’t bugging me much at the moment because I’ve learned to leave wireless on all the time, but it is annoying when I take my laptop on trains and similar and the battery drains needlessly fast. It looks like this will probably survive to the release, I will likely switch back to ipw3945 for the duration of Hardy’s lifetime.

Bug 204097 (which may be a duplicate of something else) probably cost me some data in the hard drive failure. Essentially they’ve decided to put a nice wrapper around fsck (the filesystem checks) that does not handle a check failure at all. It just reboots and tries it again. And again. And… you get the idea. Nor does it inform you that this is even due to a failure. You have to guess and boot into recovery mode yourself. Of course, this is a hard one to solve correctly, because a typical desktop user is eventually going to be told and now you have to do something very weird and difficult. But the ‘just hope it doesn’t fail the next boot’ thing is weirder.

Bug 185190 is just mystifying. Essentially the GNOME world clock programmer has decided that it is really hard to work out programmatically what timezone a city is actually in (and it is, you try it) and so they’ll just guess based on the longitude. Fortunately this only fails for very minor unheard of cities like Beijing and St Petersburg. Oh, and a bunch of major North American cities, which I genuinely am surprised is considered acceptable.

The major fix I’ve noticed is that bug 153119 (microphone was more or less useless on my laptop due to very soft volume) seems to be gone. This one surprised me since there was no response to the bug itself. update-manager is marginally better too I think. NetworkManager is fine, but I’m not using the Hardy default packages… Suspend and hibernate both work, that’s a shock this far out (a month) from a final release.