My Ubuntu 9.04 alpha 5 upgrade experience

I upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04, aka Jaunty Jackalope, last Tuesday. I haven’t had much free time last week, so after the last update was installed I just shut the computer down and didn’t have time to have a look at the results until yesterday. But even then I still only managed to have a small peek. It was not until today that I could fully try out alpha 5 of Ubuntu’s next release. Jaunty Jackalope Alpha 5 Release Notes

The upgrade itself was smooth and didn’t cause any problems. I didn’t finished the clean-up part of the upgrade due a lack of time. When I started the system after the update everything still worked apart from GNOME Do, so nothing big was broken.

The first thing I noticed was that the background colour you always see before the wallpaper is loaded now has disappeared. This colour is the one you can set in the Appearance settings to replace a wallpaper and was previously always shown. If your wallpaper and/or login screen had very different colours, it would look very ugly. I’m glad it’s gone, good change!


The second thing I noticed was that the system felt a bit more sluggish. I’m not sure whether this was caused by the video card driver upgrade from 180.11 to 180.35 or is a general decline. At first I thought it was caused by a change in the Compiz settings — especially since the window shadows seem to have darkenend — but the settings seemed unchanged. It could still be caused by Compiz too though, 8.10 uses version 7.8, whereas 9.04 alpha 5 is using the 7.9 git version.
Windows become unresponsive more often and get that grey layer from Compiz, backspace lags more frequently too and it takes longer for programs to start. Especially Firefox(3.0.7) is badly affected by this. This can’t all be graphical lag.
Any suggestions on finding the cause(s) of this problem?

On a related note: the memory leak in seahorse-daemon seems gone for now. Good work, developers! Something I did find

Other regressions

Enough on the performance. Something that bugged me a lot more was the disappearance of my beloved GNOME Do dock. It did run, and the empty space at the bottom of the screen was indeed there, but it didn’t contain any dock at all. Searching at Launchpad reveals that it’s caused by the way the plugins. Chris Halse Rogers says:

“This is an artefact of the way GNOME Do uses mono-addins. When you enable them in the preferences window, the plugins are copied from the repository that’s distributed in the gnome-do-plugins package into ~/.local/share/gnome-do/plugins-$ABI_VER. What’s worse, mono-addins won’t overwrite the plugins already in there!”

A work-around is removing the plugin directories in ~/.local/share/gnome-do/.  You can re-enable plugins afterwards, but I’m not sure what happens when new versions of stuff are released.
LP# 330025

Evolution seems to have stopped responding. You can select the folders in the sidebar, but the main screen won’t change. After a while the sidebar becomes unresponsive and turns grey. Closing the program normally isn’t possible, you have to force it to. After a while it won’t even start anymore!

Empathy‘s MSN plugin stopped to work. For MSN support I have to use Pidgin. I hope a fix for this regression is pushed soon, I’d really like to use one application for all my chatting.
LP# 338891

Speaking about Pidgin: while using this IM-client again after a while I found out that the Last.FM plugin, something I would really like in Empathy too, after a while creates one pop-up per applicable account, which can’t be normally exited. When forcing them to exit the whole Pidgin client crashes.
LP# 338904

There were also some dependency problems, probably caused by not all required packages being built correctly yet. So can’t Anjuta be upgraded at the moment because it overwrites some files in libgbf-1-2 and are a lot of Python packages still broken due the switch to Python 2.6.

Some Nice stuff

Something I’m really fond of is the new notification system. It’s now a joy to see Banshee starting with the next song, it’s really an improvement.

I’m not sure what the Indicator Applet can do, though. It does show a mail envelope when Pidgin and/or Evolution are/is running, which shows a list of the names of the two programs when you click at it.
Evolution starts minimized and listed in the list of the new applet. The programs can be activated by clicking at the titles.

I also like the possibility of customising your font dpi settings to improve monitor display. I’m now using 100 dpi on this monitor; which makes text easier to read.

The volume applet also got an overhaul. Double-clicking the applet now mutes your computer instead of summoning the volume control. For that you’ll have to use the context menu. The slider has been made horizontal and under it a check-box for muting and a button for launching volume control have been added. Volume control itself hasn’t been changed, something I had expected, since some screenshots of earlier alpha’s showed a different one.


Other people already complained about 9.04 introducing a lot less than could be reasonable be expected from a new release. Although I do think some nice things were added to this version — being able to get the latest version of software from the official repositories rather than PPAs is nice — I tend to generally agree with those people. If you compare it to previous releases, this version doesn’t add that much. Yes, Ubuntu works with a six months release schedule, but that hasn’t stopped use before. FeatureFreeze was already at February the 19th, so nothing big is going to land before the release.
When Ubuntu 9.04 was announced the expectations were running high, but it turns out that it’s just an in-between release. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for. I hope 9.10 is going to make up for this release, which, although it’s certainly not a bad one and improves Ubuntu definitely, is quite moderate.

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Sense Hofstede

Hello and welcome to my site. I am Sense Hofstede—pronounced [ˈsɛn.sə ˈɦɔf.steː.də]. Grew up in the Dutch province of Friesland, studying International Relations at Sciences Po in Paris. I enjoy reading books, drinking tea and take a particular interest in East Asia, especially China and the Korean Peninsula. In the past I've spend a lot of time volunteering for the Ubuntu project, triaging bugs, writing code and organising. Nowadays I've moved away from the computer obsession which dominated my youth, to focus on history and international politics. For an overview of my experience, please look at my LinkedIn profile.

4 thoughts on “My Ubuntu 9.04 alpha 5 upgrade experience”

  1. I did a clean install of alpha5, with ext4 as filesystem, and I must say that for me it’s much faster then with Intrepid.. The only part that seems slower are some compiz effects, but i hate most of them, so it’s not a problem for me, I just enable compiz for things like shadows and translucency..

  2. Maybe I should to a clean install too, when the final version has been released. For now I’m still a bit reluctantly to switch to ext4 already since you can’t fall back to a stable version after having converted the partitions.

  3. Well, I heard other people also complaining about worse performance. They said it was because of the NVIDIA driver. I have to say that the speed improved greatly since the driver was updated to 180.37.

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