I’m running Ubuntu now. My first experience was rather negative: I put in the install DVD, went to fiddle with partitions, and found it didn’t understand LVM. Sigh. After a bit of thinking, I decided to go with an ext3 root partition that only took up a quarter of the new drive: I was pretty sure I could get LVM support installed after booting, so I could retrieve my previous data from the second disk and use LVM on the rest of the first disk.

The lack of options in the installer was kind of refreshing. And it copied lots of stuff over, and then mysteriously failed when installing GRUB. Sigh.

For better or for worse, I tried again; this time it stalled a little earlier, with sounds making me think it was having a hard time reading the DVD. I had verified the media before installing, but there was one spot in the verification that took a while; maybe there’s one marginal area on the disk. Anyways, I didn’t feel like letting it retry over and over again when more problems were probably awaiting me, so I stopped the intsall, went downstairs, and downloaded Fedora Core 6.

While downloading that, I poked around a bit more on the Ubuntu site. This time, I found an “alternate install CD”. Which had two advantages: it’s a CD (and hence perhaps more likely to burn correctly?), and it knows about LVM. I wish they’d publicized that better – they’re quite haphazard about telling you what install options are available. (It seems to depend on which mirror you click on, or something.) So I decided to give that a try.

It was text-based, but that’s no big deal. It did know about LVM, but I still wasn’t impressed: it put swap outside of the LVM partition, and wouldn’t let me change sizes or names of logical volumes. So I think they have some catching up to do here – Fedora Core has used LVM by default for several releases, and it’s paid off for me. (Ubuntu doesn’t even seem to have a graphical administration tool for it – I still don’t know if I can resize the root volume group.) Also, while it recognized that I had existing LVM groups on the second drive, and that they were formatted as ext3, it didn’t give me any options for mounting them. After some frustrating clicking around (I think it lied to me when it said I could undo some stuff), I went ahead with the install.

This time, it worked fine; nice to have a functioning install on a single CD. (I assume it was grabbing more stuff over the network, but it was all fast and transparent.) At the end of this, I had a working system.

X looked a little funny – pixels were missing on the right side of the screen. So I spent several frustrating minutes poking around, looking for X configuration tools; after a bit of that, I noticed that there was blank space on the left side of the screen, hit the autosync button on my monitor, and it looked perfect. Which, actually, made me more impressed with Ubuntu: configuration tools are nice, having things work automatically is much better. After that, it was all pretty smooth. I was scared of it overwriting stuff if I told it to create a ‘carlton’ account (or, for that matter, of it not overwriting stuff, and being left with an old Gnome configuration I didn’t want), so I created a ‘carltontest’ account and played with that; I still have a little bit of cleanup to do, but I know have a ‘carlton’ account working with my old stuff but with appropriate Gnome configuration.

I had to spend some time installing packages by hand, but that’s okay, and I actually prefer that model to the model of clicking on packages during the initial install. I was used to rpm/yum instead of dpkg/apt-get/etc., but the transition was very easy. (One thing I didn’t like, though: it won’t grab all packages from the network, sometimes forcing me to insert my installation CD.) I don’t have much experience configuring MySQL or Apache, but getting all that working again was quite smooth. And it was nice to be able to install a Sun Java package instead of having to download it myself; I think ViewVC is the only tool I use that I didn’t see a package for.

In general, I’m fairly happy with the switch, but not yet completely convinced. Aside from the install weirdness at the start and immaturity of the LVM support, it’s also hung on me once; I really really hope that doesn’t happen again. The simplicity is good, the packaging is nice, and I like the presentation. I’ve created an account for Miranda; she’s done a bit of Tux Paint on it, and that’s gone well.

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