Ubuntu 8.04, status of

I felt a little bad writing this, because, well, Andrew tells me Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron, release candidate due very shortly and public release on April 24th) is very nice for him and in general I’m not much in the mood to stomp on people’s work. However.

Ubuntu Hardy is really not looking like it will be a good release for me. It contains several serious regressions over the previous release on my hardware. Some of them are likely to make this the least usable Ubuntu release for me ever, on my Dell Latitude 630M. (On my university desktop it’s fine, but I don’t place as many demands on that.)

Major problems:

  • As with the beta, every few days when I am using X, particularly when using my trackpad mouse at the same time as my keyboard, the Ctrl key gets virtually ‘stuck down’ and I have to restart X wtih Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to be able to use my machine again. (There’s not a lot of useful things you can do in X when it thinks that you’re holding Ctrl down.) I thought this was bug 194214 but it probably isn’t, since 194214 is (a) fixed and (b) much more hardcore than my weeny bug. I look for it on Launchpad occasionally, but it’s discouraging because I have no idea what the correct search terms are, and also all bugs about keys getting stuck get marked duplicates of 194214 anyway.
  • The new wireless driver, iwl3945, for Intel 3945 is Free Software, but that seems to be the single good thing that can be said for it. Most of the regressions over the ipw3945 driver have slowly disappeared (although you need to install linux-modules-backports): the LED works again and I can finally use the kill switch. But it’s not very stable. It causes some woes shutting the machine down and it just caused the first ever kernel panic I’ve had on my day-to-day machine. (I didn’t file the bug on this as Andrew thought that probably the details would end up in syslog. They didn’t, and so now I have no details.)
  • Resuming from suspend is broken for me at one time in thirty (thus more than once a week forcing a full reboot, as I suspend like its going out of fashion), which is about ten times worse than Gutsy on this hardware. I reported this as bug 217461 and now I’m trying to find out what the cause is by saving pm_state. (Wow, it’s an annoying debugging process on a user machine: my system really does not like having its time reset to random things a lot. I am not sure I have the constitution to be a kernel hacker, but I guess if I was I wouldn’t be usually debugging kernels on my work machine. Much.)

Between all of those, well, gar. Using Hardy will equate to sudden and necessary reboots more than once a week for me. And I need to muck around with hdparm again to try and sort out my system’s version of bug 59695.

Stuff that’s been or going to be fixed for release (at least enough for me): the wireless kill switch, the ignoring of many fsck errors, the insane timezone selection by the GNOME clock, the incompatibility of Java 1.4 and Gecko (although this was solved by just removing Java, which bothers someone), misnaming some wireless interfaces (this stopped wireless working after suspend for a lot of people) and the wireless LED.

One thing that possibly won’t be: sound problems with programs that do/don’t use PulseAudio, but that is more of a nuisance than a real problem for me, since I mostly use my Squeezebox for sound.