Friday Jun 14, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04

I've been actively and naturally using Ubuntu since Ubuntu 7.04 "Feisty Fawn", which means, of course, April 2007, as described here. Now let's flash forward six years or so to yesterday. Yesterday I was on 12.04 "Precise Pangolin", today on the latest version 13.04 "Raring Ringtail", which means I skipped 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal". In general, looking back in this blog over the years, I seem to have installed more "04" releases than "10" releases, which is interesting. I tend to skip one Ubuntu release per year, more or less. Not sure why, exactly. Part of it is that I'm too lazy to backup my data prior to an upgrade and can probably only handle the occasional frantic moments of despair (e.g., the sudden pause in the upgrade garbles that could either be an internal crash or the tiny technicians in my computer simply needing a coffee break) in the middle of upgrades on an annual basis.

The process which I followed to get from 12.04 to 13.04 is completely illustrative of how software updates happen and is interesting from a NetBeans IDE point of view, too. Often, on Twitter and on mailing lists, at least 60% of NetBeans-related questions I see immediately cause a small fuse to blow in my mind while I think, almost out loud: "Well, why don't you just go to the NetBeans Wiki and you'll find the answer there, very easily." But, of course, that's not how we gather info nowadays, we simply go to Google even though we know that each and every software product has its own dedicated site with highly detailed information. Then, when we don't find the answer we're looking for (or we think we're looking for) within 30 seconds, we start yelling "Help this product sucks" on Twitter.

And that's also why I can't explain exactly how I got from 12.04 to 13.04. I basically googled around and somewhere found a command line that I assumed would bring me directly to 13.04 but got me to 12.10. Then I went to the Update Manager, which (several hours later, zillions of new files later, while leaving everything else miraculously untouched) brought me to 13.04.

The other interesting thing is why I wanted to move to 13.04 in the first place. I would have been perfectly happy to have stayed at 12.04 if it wasn't for the fact that the VPN Cisco AnyConnect Client doesn't (or at least not without various low level tweaks, from a variety of random unreliable and contradictory online searches) work on 12.04. It worked before that, but from 12.04 onwards, I couldn't VPN into internal company sites that I need to do my work and had to use a Windows laptop purely for that reason only. That's why I upgraded. However, many many hours later, when I was finally on 13.04, I had exactly the same problems as before! Then I moved to "openconnect", which solved all my VPN problems immediately. But this aspect is interesting from a NetBeans point of view, where I often find myself thinking in response to some question or other: "Come on, you're asking this question, and then it turns out you're on NetBeans IDE 6.9 while the latest release is NetBeans IDE 7.3! Never thought of upgrading, in all these years..?" Etc. Then again, on the other hand, switching from one release of NetBeans IDE to another is a LOT simpler (takes a lot less time, is a lot less risky and a lot less irreversible) than switching from one version of Ubuntu to another.

Finally, a missing piece in my software toolbox on Ubuntu was Cisco IP Communicator, a soft phone, which only has Windows and Mac distributions. I never had it (nor tried to have it) on Ubuntu before but thought I'd give it a try since it would be the final missing piece on my Ubuntu from my Windows world. And, lo and behold, it works perfectly (well, aside from the Audio bit at the beginning, but that's a known problem) on Ubuntu too, if you install it via Wine. (Maybe the biggest plus from the process of updating to Ubuntu 13.04 is the side effect that I now know a lot more about Wine, i.e., the ".wine" folder is a fascinating replication of a Windows operating system.)

And now I'm on 13.04, the world isn't a very different place (not noticed anything new, so far, maybe performance improvements, but maybe mostly because I always assume each release of anything must have performance enhancements somehow). I used to have absolute nightmares setting up Wifi after an Ubuntu upgrade, but everything worked immediately out of the box. So far I don't have anything to mention in terms of differences, but certainly the smoothest upgrade (especially since I upgraded from 12.04 to 12.10 and then 13.04, all in the same set of hours) I have ever experienced. And good to know I'm on the latest release of Ubuntu again!


Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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