Author Archive: Andrew Jamison

The TV apocalypse!

As I’m sure most of you are undoubtedly aware, this month in particular has been an incredibly bad week for television. I can count roughly 5 to 10 popular TV shows that were canceled and that’s just off the top of my head.

My question to my readers is this: What is happening with TV shows lately?

The figures have been able to pull up show that in the 2010-2011 season 82 shows were either ending or canceled. Some of these shows, showed actual potential, such as Breaking In, The Cape, Entourage, Human Target, No Ordinary Family, and V. This is just the tip of the iceberg, there were a lot of other good shows that were not renewed, due to the show ending.

It seems with the growing capabilities of companies like Netflix, and YouTube now offering movies, traditional television seems to be slipping by. I can’t turn the TV on anymore without finding out that one of the shows I planned on watching or had been watching was canceled. It’s not so much the show being canceled that really bugs me though, it’s when the show doesn’t have time to end the series properly. An example of this would be the Cape, the show ended with an online only episode that was absolutely by far the worst example of a series finale I have ever seen. Using the same logic, of course shows such as No Ordinary Family, saw the writing on the wall, so to speak, and so they made the last episode that aired sort of close a lot of the potholes. I strongly believe they did this because they had a strong feeling the show was going to be canceled and they wanted in to end in a way that had a sense of closure, but also had the hint that if the series got renewed. They would be able to continue on from that point If the show had been renewed.

Sadly, it appears the situation is only getting worse, people just don’t watch TV like they used to. I predict that as time goes on, the situation will only get worse, will we start seeing less and less TV channels? Will we start seeing more and more TV networks taking their shows online only?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions, it is likely, however, that networks are going to start embracing the Internet more as a delivery medium and who knows one day maybe we’ll be able to look back and tell our children," Yes, I was alive when TV existed, before you to, when the Internet was just starting out!"

So what do you, my readers think about this, do you feel like the traditional television format is an endangered species? Do you think that at some point in the near future, TV shows will be distributed online instead of the television?

Leave your comments below

Sources:

[1]

Ubuntu 11.04 – review of unity interface

In a rather long blog post I wrote several months ago, I compared my first looks at the Fedora 15 Alpha and Ubuntu 11.04 beta. I also promised that once each one of these distributions was released I was going to do a more in depth review of each one. Ubuntu 11.04 has been out now for quite some time, due to the fact the Fedora 15 is not yet in its final stage I’m going to hold off for reviewing that.

This review is going to be focused primarily on the unity interface, my first use of the unity interface was a little skewed back in the alpha. This could have been due partly to the fact that I was running Ubuntu inside of a virtual machine, which is known not to work with the next generation desktop special effects such as unity in Ubuntu and Gnome shell and Gnome 3. To circumvent any problems that may arise with having Ubuntu in a virtual machine, I set up a small partition on a second hard drive and installed it natively having a dual-boot between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 11.04.

First impressions of unity were not very good. There were a lot of artifacts on the screen, as well as several black spots blocking text, I found out later that these were due to the fact that the open-source driver for my video card was not up to par for handling the 3-D effects, installing the proprietary drivers using the hardware management tool and Ubuntu fixed this problem.

While I generally enjoyed the overall look of unity, it seemed to be way to stripped and too simplistic for somebody with my level of knowledge (though my level of knowledge is nowhere near as much as other users who use Ubuntu). There were a few things I liked about it, such as the remapping of the Windows key on my keyboard to pull up a search dialogue to be able to search for programs, if you ask me this was a brilliant remapping, the fact is a lot of Windows users switching to Ubuntu use the Windows key fairly often to pull up the start menu in Windows. While was entirely possible to remap the Windows key Using older versions of Ubuntu or clearly any other distribution, the fact that it was remapped by default. To me just seems like a good idea. Now before installing the initial updates that came with Ubuntu.

After installing it, I found unity to be a much more pleasing experience with the exception of one or two features that to me just drove me bonkers, a prime example: pre-update Firefox still had its menu contained within the Firefox window, post update the menus were then moved out of the Firefox window and opened the black taskbar across the top of the screen. Now to most people this might seem like a good change, however somebody who spends the majority of their time in Windows for whatever reason might find this extremely annoying, I know I did. I haven’t yet looked for a solution to convert this back to the way it was, although I’m sure one exists or will shortly. I was trying to keep Ubuntu as close to the default installation is possible so that this review would apply to as many people as possible, if I had gone and customized a bunch of the features my experience might be different than somebody who just installed Ubuntu.

There were some intuitive things that thing could have been worked into unity they would have made it a little more user-friendly, some of these include frequently used programs showing up in the launch bar by default. As it stands under a currently default install of Ubuntu, if you wanted to make a specific program launcher permanently show up in the launcher bar, You would have to right-click it, While the program is open and click pin to launcher or something to that effect. I know it seems like I am just nitpicking but this is something that could drive a new user to Linux, especially one that’s never even touched it before nuts.

Ubuntu claims to be an operating system that’s extremely friendly and even somebody who’s never used Linux before, even specifically targeting somebody switching from Windows to Linux, as using Ubuntu is a good starting point. My beef with this claim is that if they take such simple, intuitive features and make them five or six more steps than they need to be you will only confuse new users. I mean yes of course most of the hardware 95% of time is going to work out-of-the-box, this is something that Ubuntu is extremely popular for.

Unity to me seems like it was geared towards people who wanted a simple experience, and one that was formatted specifically for touch devices such as a tablet PC. This is great for Tablet PCs, this however in my opinion sucks for desktop use, I don’t consider myself to be an advanced Linux user but, I do know enough about settings that I’d like a little more control, and while unity does not constrict any of the functionality of Ubuntu, it makes it feel like you’re restricted to me anyway. Yes, there is a way to disable unity and run in what they call classic mode, however you have to figure how to do this yourself because no documentation I have been able to find comes with Ubuntu explaining how to do it. Yes I could figure it out when it comes time for me to do that.

Now I know a lot of you who are pro-Ubuntu are probably go to say I’m being biased because I’m a Fedora person, I’ll be fair and say that what little bit I’ve seen of gnome shell doesn’t impress me either. I’m not a fan of over simplifying the user experience, simplifying is okay in my opinion but over simplifying just makes me feel stupid. It’s almost as if these distributions are trying to say the average Linux user now has no common sense, So let’s make things as easy as possible, in reality, they often end up making things so much more complicated for somebody who is used to using it the old way.

So I know this post is supposed to be a review about unity and I haven’t talked about many of the features, this is mainly due to the fact that there really aren’t any features that you can’t see when you look at screenshots of unity. I will touch on a few below, just for the sake of a decent review, myself, as well as some of the other people I’ve talked to however seem to think they unity is going to be dragging Ubuntu in the wrong direction. I am not against Ubuntu making a spin specifically geared towards the tablet PC, for such a spin unity would be perfect. When I use a desktop computer, I want to use a desktop computer not a super powerful tablet experience, this is why IOS is not made into a desktop platform, it would make any sense. Just like why was somebody install Android as their primary operating system on their PC.

One thing it did particularly like about unity was the fact that by default it seems to try to organize open windows in a fashion where there no overlapping, however you can still overlap windows if you want, they just don’t open that way. Also, thank God, If you try to maximize a window, it makes that bar that unity bar on the left go away, this is extremely useful, particularly for people with smaller computer monitors. I myself have a 27 inch monitors so screen real estate is almost at an abundance, but somebody with a 15 inch screen or smaller would not have the same amount of screen real estate. Therefore, if that bar didn’t hide when some was full-screen practically all of their screen would be filled with that bar.

Some of the key combinations that people are used to in Windows work with unity as well, such as Alt + Tab which can be used to cycle through open programs. As simplistic as unity is, some shortcuts that advanced users grieving users that have grown accustomed to keyboard shortcuts, might miss is Alt +F2 this key combination. It used open dialogue we could enter a command in the GUI, this would allow for quick launching programs without having to open a terminal window. As far as I can tell there’s no way to enable this in Ubuntu 11.04, I’m sure you could make a custom keyboard shortcut that would do the same thing, but that’s a little out of the scope of being easy to use out-of-the-box. I mean seriously, how much memory could that little feature of possibly taken up that they needed to strip it out of the distribution in a default ship?

Bottom line here if you’re looking with going with Ubuntu as your Linux distribution of choice, and you want a experience is very close To the Way, Windows was set up, then you’re probably either going to want to run 11.04 in classic mode, or run the latest long-term service release. Canonical has made a great product with Ubuntu. Building on free and open source software, so don’t get me wrong by the negativity in this blog post. I’m not being negative about Ubuntu itself.

Ubuntu is a great operating system and know tons of people who use it every day as their primary operating system, unity, however, is an entirely different matter. I was one of those people who was outraged when it was announced that 11.04 was going to have unity and by default, but what really did it in for me was when I found out unity cannot be removed, it just simply cannot be removed. It’s like cancer. Thinking back I know one other piece of software in a popular operating system that cannot be removed and starts with the letter I and ends with the letter R, and uses the abbreviation IE.

If you want to include unity fine, at least give people the chance to remove unity if they don’t like it, and install something else in its place. My honest advic, If you’re going to go with Ubuntu 11.04, think about Kubuntu 11.04 KDE seems to be a lot closer to the kind of experience that I would come to have expected from a desktop operating system.

Oh in case you’re curious the blog post I mentioned at the beginning the one where I compared early versions of February 15 to early versions of Ubuntu 11.04, I can be found by clicking here

as always, please feel welcome to leave comments below, I don’t expect to make a lot of friends with some of the statements of listed above but I’m not about to lie about what I feel. Canonical if you’re reading this which I seriously doubt, great job on Ubuntu 11.04 just ditch unity already in your operating system will be gold in my opinion.

Portal 2 Review – Single Player

Recently I bought in finished the single player version of Portal 2, which bared, a striking resemblance to the first version of the game. While the general style of the game and fundamentals were the same, it was a lot more voice acting in this game and I would say also more humor. While this game also offered a cooperative play version, I have yet to attend this version of the game mainly due to the fact that coordinating with my friends to play for a few hours it is rather difficult.

So you might be asking what makes Portal 2 different than the original? While generally speaking, the idea of the game was the same, the underlying plot was different driven by a humorous protagonist and often clueless robot “Wheatley”(voiced by Stephen Merchant).the majority of the old-style puzzles were still present, new types of puzzles and solutions were also included, such as three types of goo because various different effects which you can use to your advantage to solve different types of puzzles.

The robots to everybody sees on the box covers including the one in this post, are the two cooperative play robots which are used in cooperative play. Sadly, single player play through’s do not have the advantages of a companion to help solve puzzles. Instead, you get the occasional scene with the halfway named Wheatley which proves to be incredibly humorous and often times following his advice can get you into a bigger pickle.

While many of the reviews I have read claim this game doesn’t have much re-playability, I feel this can be incredibly enjoyable to play more than one time.I’m not sure if this was just my own personal experience or if other reviewers simply had a different idea of what constitutes re-playability.

Generally speaking, however there is usually only one way to solve a puzzle and I could see where this might hinder playing the game multiple times. GLaDOS of course makes a return in this game giving the main character chell a great deal of a hard time, without spoiling the game. I’m not going to go into specifics about exactly how GLaDOS played into this game other than to say if you played the first one. You know that she was deactivated, I will tell you that she accidentally gets reactivated but that’s as much as I’m going to reveal, however that much should be known already , if you watch the commercials.

generally speaking, the game is fairly safe for teenagers to play not having any realistic form of violence, in effect, nobody actually dies in the game. What you can expect however it is the occasional bit of crude humor, coupled with the sadistic personality of a few artificially intelligent robots. You do find out a little bit more about GLaDOS and her origins in this game but they leave just enough of a mystery that a possible third game could be brought up. They don’t however explain much about the main character, aside from what anyone who played the first game would already know.

Bottom line, I feel this game was very enjoyable and if you intend to replay the game at some point in the future, most likely starting with the original and then playing the second one in succession. The gameplay experience may be different on the consoles. I haven’t tried any of these so I can’t exactly speak for, whether it’s easier or more difficult, but given the sheer amount of positive reviews, this game is received I will be willing to say that the console versions aren’t too difficult in terms of controlling. I will say I tried this on the normal difficulty level haven’t tried any of the harder difficulty levels, from what I understand these greatly change how to solve the puzzles, making things more difficult. Hence the hard difficulty level, might give these a try little bit later, however I usually don’t do so well with a game set on a hard difficulty level.

Still Unemployed – why does credit have to affect an employment decision!!

Bad Credit = No Job!

It has been just over a year since we moved into this house, yet I’m still unemployed. It’s not that I’m not looking for a job, it seems to be a combination of my severe gaps in employment and the Lack of Necessary Credit. So far, we’ve been lucky enough to use money that was set aside, though not for this type of situation but still helpful, however as this money is slowly drying up I find myself in a tight spot. I honestly thought that finding a job would be fairly simple, especially if I’m willing to do just about any job I could find, this however would prove to be a foolish mistake as made evident by the fact that I’m still unemployed.

I decided it was time to look into why I wasn’t being hired, after applying for hundreds of jobs and not getting one interview, when I found out was credit as well as my gaps in employment were the two number one factors for me not getting a job. I should mention that a majority of that time that I was unemployed was spent helping to care for my terminally ill father-in-law, we’ve been living with my in-laws since 2004 but it wasn’t until late 2006 and my father-in-law started to take a turn for the worse. During this time I felt it was important for me to be available 24 hours a day, as my mother-in-law was not the best of health either (though she was not terminally ill). Sadly, my father-in-law passed away late 2008 at which point we continue to live with my mother-in-law for some time, about 1 1/2 years to be exact.during this one a half years we lived with my mother-in-law, she began to have financial trouble, and it was time for me to start looking for work again. well, no work came and my mother-in-law continue to have financial difficulties, so bad did these become in fact that we were forced to start looking for new place to live as was she.

Rushing thinking we had a limited amount of time to find a new place to live, we begin apartment hunting, only to find the price of bread and, way up since last time we were renters. With no disposable income other than the government disability money my wife receives, we had no income and next to nothing saved up.we did have investments and other assets which netted us an extra bit of money every month to help with the bills, but due to not having a job a lot of those investments have had to be liquefied, and the extra money we have every month is running dangerously low. Before I go any further, you might be asking why I’m so willing to share this much personal information, the answer is simple I have nothing to hide and it makes me feel better to get it off my chest. I will say right now, despite what you might be thinking this blog post is not leading up to me asking you for a donation so don’t even get that in your mind, what I’m truly hoping to achieve by writing this blog post is for employers that happened to be checking my social networking sites to get a glimpse a snapshot if you will of where I currently stand so that they can understand why I’ve been unemployed as long as I have. I have no preconceived misconception that this in any way will improve my odds of finding a job, but it was least give an employer perspective, something they may not have otherwise.

Fast-forward to the current day, things are starting to sort of look up, if that doesn’t sound too reassuring let me explain. I have made it no secret that my wife has cerebral palsy, while I consider us both blessed and lucky that it doesn’t hinder her to the point that it does some, is still causes her difficulty. In fact I would be willing to say that the only advantage to her disability to either one of us could see, would be the fact that it qualifies her to get Social Security disability, this is meant the difference between us being able to pay the rent and not being able to pay the rent. All that being said my wife is currently enrolled, or hopes to be enrolled in a program set up by Michigan called Michigan rehabilitation services or MRS for short. Now there are a lot of benefits associated with her being enrolled in MRS, I’m not exactly sure what they all are so not going to mention too much about it here, what I will say is that I’m pretty sure they have a program set up to aid her in finding work. As weird as it sounds for me to say this, she made be employed in a part time job before I can ever land an interview.

So you might be asking what if I done recently to help improve my odds of finding a job, I recently pulled a copy of my credit report along with scores for all three credit bureaus, without going into specifics here, let’s just say that my credit is not as bad as I thought it was, in fact my father who has been on the opposite end of the hiring table told me that these scores should not affect most employers decision to hire me.I can in fact see my credit report were several employers have queried the report, I seem checking my credit for pre-employment evaluation, or in my case the pre-interview evaluation. Something on that credit report must be spooking them because usually, after looking at my credit report the application process stops dead in its tracks. While I might not be able to do anything about the gaps in unemployment,I am hoping that I can do something about the credit issue, in the meantime I can only hope that my wife’s appointment with MRS proves fruitful.

Ok, I think that’s enough of me rambling on for one has to at least be two pages (or maybe not), was hoped this blog post at least as enjoyable for somebody to read. At the very least this blog post will give somebody better insight into me personally what my current situation is (if somebody’s actually interested enough to find out more about me which I doubt).

Comments are welcome, suggestions are also welcome, but please don’t be a jerk about it, in fact if your jerk about your comment will even be posted.

My Life at a Glance–New CPU, Gaming, Windows troubles, Linux Troubles, android tablets and more!

Well it has been a while since I posted anything to my blog, and I thought I would rectify that by making one huge post updating everyone on most aspects of my life currently.

New Computer Hardware

Recently I upgraded my old AMD Athlon II x4 620 to a new AMD Phenom II x6 1090T Black Edition.

The upgrade was relatively painless (typical CPU upgrade) and I did not notice a huge improvement at first in performance, however once the computer ran for a while I noticed some changes in both speed and the Heat the CPU generated.

With my older Quad Core CPU idle CPU temps were somewhere around 38c which is relatively hot I have been told for an idle temp. With the newer six-core the idle temps dropped to around 28c that is a 10 degree difference!

While I primarily upgraded to solve an issue Windows was having with the CPU (mine in particular not necessarily the same for others with it ) where it would frequently spike the CPU usage up and then not fully release capacity as processes slowed. I had tried numerous times to re-install windows in numerous different storage configurations (RAID 0, Use a separate drive for all Data and one specifically for OS and Important programs, Installing a tweaked version where certain features were turned off mainly indexing and what not), while most of these worked one in particular kept causing me to scratch my head as tried to get Windows running on it (RAID 0). With out boring you by going into detail on what I tried I will just say it did not work and ended up causing a new fresh install of Windows 7 using the default installation (which ironically ended up having better throughput). The CPU proved to be a good trade off as it increased windows boot time as well as offered a 6mb L3 Cache where the Quad had no such L3 Cache.

I ran the windows performance scoring tool (just for the hell of it not a big believer in what it says other then to pinpoint what hardware is the current bottleneck) finding that now all areas rated 7.5 where the HDD was the remaining bottleneck coming in at a miserable 5.9. Now I know Windows may not be the best OS when it comes to efficient write commands, but that was a good indicator it was time for a faster drive or to make the plunge into a reasonable SSD.

The issue here is that even though I could move about 95% of all my data to a external HDD and use the SSD as the boot drive, programs would continue to load slowly unless they were installed on the SSD. All that and not to mention the sheer amount that SSD cost per GB, it just was not worth the price at present.

Gaming

This all lead me into my next issue which was stuttering (video wise not audio) in the game Dragon Age 2, I examined this further and found that DA2 seems to see the processor correctly but only sees one core as being available. I then spent about 2 hours talking to EA support via chat to try and correct this, even tried reducing the available Cores it had access to in the affinity setting for the game.

Long story short we were unable to pinpoint the exact issue, but narrowed it down to something to do with the CPU upgrade (seeing as it worked fine on the Quad). The tech was so down that he could not solve my issue that he proceeded to go into the back end for my EA account and enable a whole swarm of free content (not DLC, promotional items mostly) for Dragon Age: Origins and one or two for DA2!. I literally now have so much stuff that when I log into the Bioware User Entitlements area to see what I have access to I have to scroll 3 times, and that is on a 27” monitor at 1920×1080 resolution with the browser full screen!

Did I also mention that earlier this month I had an issue with the DLC authorizing for Dragon Age: Origins? Well EA gave me a $20 voucher for the EA store and so I used that on Dead space 2 which was already on sale for $31 (Digital download version) so I ended up after tax getting a $50 game for $12 dollars!

Linux

Now all of you reading this from the Fedora Planet are by now wondering “what does this have to do with Linux?”

The answer is that had nothing to do with it but the headache did make me want to leave windows and try to install Fedora again on one of my free HDD’s

This brings me to where I had the issue with Fedora, to be fair here I was using the latest build of Fedora 15 alpha so the issues are not at all the fault of Fedora just my own lapse in judgment.

Here is what happened, I tried at first to do a custom install (like I always do when installing multiple OS) but that just caused me a headache because apparently my boot order for my HDD was set differently in the Bios then the physical location they are in (where they are connected on the mother board). That being said I managed to axe the small system partition Windows 7 makes for some reason. I panicked and though If I could install Fedora I could at least boot from Grub into Windows right? Wrong!

Second time installing is where I made the big mistake of choosing use all space when I meant to hit remove all Linux partitions, well as you can imagine this went bad as it wiped now my entire windows drive. While I chalk this up to my own lack of focus, my friend claims it was a sign from the Fedora Gods that Linux did not want Windows anywhere on the system.

I ended up just wiping that re-installing windows (to many good games that do not work in Wine plus school work that requires Windows programs) and just throw Fedora in a VM. So far this has worked well though I miss my dual boot setup and being able to run Fedora natively. I might try it again but making sure to backup my windows install prior to doing so.

Android 3.0

While I myself have not had any hands on experience with Android, I want an Android 3 tablet badly!

I began looking into the options out there and found out that not only do a handful exist but they are all super expensive!!!

I did find one that would have a 399 model but the specs on it were less then acceptable to me. While I generally am not a power user when it comes to mobile devices I found that a 512mb 8gb nand ram drive device to be a little underwhelming! How much could you fit on 8gb now days even if on Android!?

The next model the one I am seriously considering is 499 and has 1gb of ram and a 16gb nand ram drive. This to me seems sufficient and would work nicely, provided I decide to get it. ASUS the manufacture of this tablet apparently has released everything but the device itself in the US as of the time I am writing this. Will  I have the funds to spare when they do release it is yet to be seen but lets hope it gets released soon.

Well that about covers it, that should get most people who care caught up with what has been going on with me (not a lot of people care I get it but a few readers I know who read this do Winking smile ).

Feel free to leave comments below

Dragon Age II review – After two complete playthroughs

Dragon Age II Box ArtI loved this game it was a welcome change to Dragon Age
Origins! Do not get me wrong anyone who has seen my raptr profile or xfire
profile will see i ranked up the game play hours on that game, however this
game offers a much faster and fluid fighting system which I think is an example
of the effort put into making the game seem different yet have a DA:O feel to
it.

The plot line was a bit confusing to grasp at first since
the game makes a point to keep you guessing what is happening until the very
end of the game. The conversational system was overhauled allowing easier
conversations in a Mass Effect 2 similar fashion, this is not a bad thing (to
me anyway). Now you no longer have those awkward moments in the game where you
find you said the wrong thing and are now engaged in a romance with one of the
most annoying male characters in the game. Case and point Zevran from DA:O,
This character I felt was a death trap of same sex romance. I mean that if you’re
not inclined to romance him your best not talking to him at all as almost any
dialog option would enter you into a romance with him, showing no obvious way
out. In this new system icons are used to show what impact your choice will
have with the character, if you are going to select a response and that would
enter you into a romance with the character a heart will appear in the center
of the conversation wheel. On the other hand if you want to break a romance a picture
of a fractured heart will appear for options that would end the romance.

Aside from those changes the game seemed to be centered
around 5-6 maps which served as the grounds for multiple zones, what I mean by
this is a map for inside a cave could be used (re-arranged a bit but otherwise
the same) to show the inside of every single side quest cave in the game! This
to me felt repetitive after killing a Dragon in one cave only to find a quest
in a similar looking cave (the same map) and fighting a Vestral in the same
exact spot the dragon existed in the “other” cave. I understand why this was
done, it saves resources if you simply re-arrange items and close off some
areas while other remain open and shuffle the enemies around. This to me is the
reason I did not give it 5 stars, they just recycled maps too frequently,
enough so it was clearly noticeable.

On a upside main quests seemed to have unique maps or re-use
old maps less frequently then side or companion quests which helped. There were
a few main plot line quests that used the same maps as previous ones but for
the most part if you had to enter a house for X plot quest then the next house
you entered would be different enough to feel as though it was a separate map.

Yes, there is a very high Mass Effect feel to some aspects
of game play but to indirectly quote Mike Laidlaw (lead designer) and probably
not as accurately as I should “Mass Effect 2 was insanely popular and did very
well, if Dragon Age 2 can achieve the same thing by using similar elements,
then I do not see a problem. They are still very much different games and I
think that the real fans will be able to appreciate the difference and
understand why we chose to do things this way.” Keep in mind he may not have
said that word for word the way I have it but he has said in one of his
Developer Chats that he recognizes the talk about the similarity between the
two and explains why he did it.

Should you shell out $60 on this game? That depends on a few
things,

1) How much did you
enjoy DA:O?

2) Do you believe the negative reviews about the game? If so
then why even bother?

3) Are you a Fan of RPGs?

Feel free to leave comments below, I welcome any comments even if you hated the game just make sure to let me know WHY you hated it!

My first look at Fedora 15 (Pre-Alpha) and Ubuntu 11.04 (alpha)

It is no secret I am not the most knowledgeable person with regards to Linux, however I do enjoy it and often dabble in more then one distribution at a time. This time I have chosen to look at Fedora 15 which will hit Alpha next month and Ubuntu 11.04 which is currently in alpha.

Both of these distribution versions are still in the stage of development where things are ironed out and the kinks get fixed, however by this point most features and the look and feel are pretty much there buggy though they may be. I am going to take the fact they are still being bug squashed into account in my review of them.

To make the comparison easier I am running them inside of a VM with 1gb of ram allotted to each machine and 50gb HDD. They are being run from VirtualBox 4.0.4 from a Windows 7 64bit Professional host.

While both distributions have taken huge steps toward perfecting the joy that is Linux and Open Source, there is still some work to do before the average Joe windows user decides that Linux may be worth checking out.

I am make no attempts to hide the fact that I use Windows and use it often, I am however not of the frame of mind that Windows is in any way superior to Linux just a different method to achieve the same core goals of an OS. Lets be realistic, if Linux had started out early on it would be the OS in everyone’s home not Windows but because we entered the game a bit late we are playing catch up.

Fedora 15 and Ubuntu 11.04 both make huge strides to bridge the gap between stability and Usability, Sleek beautiful artwork and rock solid programing are just a few things I have seen so far. I am not saying they are without bugs, being in this early a stage of the release cycle bugs are expected.

All that Aside let me jump into the areas of interest, keep in mind some of these views I will mention are with full knowledge of how buggy a alpha release can be. That being said, I intent to point out issues I had and then compare them to the finish product when it is released to determine if these were resolved or still exist.

Fedora 15 – Installation

As mentioned above Fedora 15 is not quite to the Alpha stage as such no installer ISO exists yet. I managed an install by using the Fedora GPXE boot installation method and simply changed the paths in the grub menu to point to a Fedora 15 repository. If your reading this you are most likely aware that Fedora now branches their rawhide (normally the development branch) into a new development branch when it gets closer to the alpha release. I used this to my advantage as you can see in the image below I merely altered the fedora 14 development entry to point to this new fedora 15 branch.

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Once this is done the install loads up pretty much like normal, however once it loads you get a lot of the types of errors similar to the one below. These errors are frequent and annoying but most of the time repeated presses of the retry button will allow it to successfully download. I am confident this error will disappear with the official Alpha ISO when it is release as the rpms will be present on the image. However, that aside the install will succeeded if you are willing to repeatedly hit retry on more then one file to get it to go. I should note if you accidentally hit reboot your not given any warning and have to start all over again.

f15err

 

The new user wizard that shows up after a fresh install of Fedora is re-vamped as well allowing for more then one user to be made and allowing adding users to the Administrator group which then allows them to use SUDO similar to how Ubuntu does by default.

Ubuntu 11.04 – Installation

Most of the installation for this works the same as the new revamped 10.10 installer. I did run into some issues with the installer not working in a VM and was forced to use the alternate installed for 11.04 to install this version. Again it is worth saying that this will most likely be fixed in the final release. Installing in a VM can also cause issues like this as well.

Issues related to both distributions

Due to VirtualBox only allowing 128mb of video ram to be assigned to each VM I was not able to get the Gnome Shell effect to work in F15 nor the Unity Effect in 11.04 due to this the effect you get is more classic Gnome looking.

Ubuntu 11.04 – Desktop and Menus

Below is an image of the default Ubuntu 11.04 desktop and a few of the menus, the look is very close to the Ubuntu 10.10 style.

ubunutudesktopubuntumenu1ubuntumenu2

 

Most of the menus resemble the ones above, fairly straight forward. From what I have seen so far the Ubuntu menu system is a bit more streamlined and requires less fumbling through menus.

Fedora 15 – Desktop and Menus

The menus for Fedora 15 for me looked the same, this was largely due to the VM not being able to support enough video ram to run the Gnome-Shell. Because of this it had to fall back to the classic gnome look and the menus were pretty much the same.

Of course they changed the wall paper that comes with it again but the one they chose seemed less eye catching then some of the previous ones they released, it is still great quality in terms of art and skill just not as 3dish as the F14 one was for example. I am not sure if this is an area they are still working on or if it has been finalized, either way it is easy enough to change and as such not a big deal.

I tried to install the VirtualBox guest additions to see if gnome-shell would work, and this caused Xorg to stop working altogether so I had to roll back to a snap shot from before the install of the additions.

f15desktop

As you can see from the image above there is a small issue with the GDM login screen, when you select a user as part of the administrator group you get the word Other as the only selectable user. This does not always happen and when it does clicking it will cause GDM to reload and then the correct users are listed. I am sure this is a glitch that will be addressed as the development continues.

Fedora 15 – Significant changes

While most areas of Fedora 15 remain pretty common to how the previous versions looked, some stand out and I am not exactly sure this is a good thing or not. I will show you a picture of the new “Control Panel” like system settings window that now contains all the gnome and Linux gui tools like User admin and more.

f15controlf15useradminf15sysinfogenf15sysinfodefaultf15sysinfogfxf15print

The above images show just a few of the changes to the Fedora 15 GUI windows, there are literally changes in almost ever GUI dialog so I can not possibly post pics of them all so I chose the more popular ones to show it off.

Things are still buggy in places some of those Unlock buttons you see do not work for me they simply do nothing, others work as planned. I over all am impressed with the re-design but the window style feels very Windows 3.1 to me and that would most likely be the first element I would change.

Again these windows might look this way because I had to use the fallback window manager instead of gnome-shell but it could also be due to the distributions being in early development still.

Final Thoughts

Overall I feel both versions are progressing nicely, they will both change what the current user base sees as well as adding functionality as well. Fedora I believe is making the most radical change in terms of look and feel while Ubuntu tends to tweak their current design elements.

As this is just a entry on my first thoughts it might not be in depth to the point of some readers liking, however I do plan to do a more in depth review once the two are officially released. I will post back here during my tinkering to share any huge changes I might have discovered.

Thanks for reading and leave any comments below.

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