Thoughts on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

Posted on May 25, 2010

It has been about a week since I upgraded my laptop to Lucid Lynx, the newest version of Ubuntu. Lynx was released on April 29, and I was wary of upgrading, mainly because of the interface changes in this version.

Here then are my initial thoughts on Ubuntu 10.04, as an end-user. Your mileage may vary.

The Good

Thunderbird is updated to version 3 with the upgrade, and it looks more spiffy than before, with a slick new interface. One of the big new features is Firefox-like tabs, which are created when you open an email message, your address book, and other panels. I’m still getting used to it; sometimes I accidentally close Thunderbird instead of just the tab. Strangely, the “compose email” function is still a separate window.

Another nice thing is that the shutdown process is much faster than before; it only takes a few seconds until the computer powers off.

The Bad

Java Runtime Is Broken

In Lucid Lynx, the Sun Java JRE 6 has been replaced with OpenJDK and uses IcedTea for browser applets. Sadly, it simply doesn’t work. In Firefox, a number of Java runtime errors occurred. Chrome didn’t recognize the IcedTea plugin at all. Other people have reported similar problems.

Also, when an IcedTea applet is running it causes OpenJDK to use 97%+ of the CPU, even when it is doing nothing! I support the move to OpenJDK, but at the moment it is simply unusable. This seems to be another instance of Canonical pushing broken software out the door.

You can install the Sun JRE from a PPA, but how many casual users are going to do that? Instead, I followed an easy Sun JRE installation walkthrough from the “Easy Linux tips project”. Switching to Sun’s runtime fixed both Firefox and Chrome for me, and resulted in no more than 5% CPU usage while running applets in a web browser.

Sunbird Is Gone

Apparently the Sunbird calendar software has been abandoned by the Mozilla team and thus it was deleted from Ubuntu. They recommend users install Thunderbird and use the Lightning add-on.

Funny thing, the original reason I chose Sunbird instead of Lightning was because Lightning was horribly buggy and difficult to use. Lightning is (almost) at version 1.0 now and it’s nice, but I still like having my calendar and email separate — I use them completely differently, with no shared data or workflow across the tools at all.

To migrate your old Sunbird calendar data to Lightning, you can try copying the database file, but Lightning only found the first calendar when I tried that. Instead, I downloaded Sunbird and ran it — it found my old profile automatically — then exported the calendars and imported them into Lightning.

nmbd Startup Script Is Broken

The nmbd runlevel script (/etc/init.d/nmbd) has been replaced with a generic Upstart script that doesn’t work during startup and shutdown. Manual invocation of nmbd still works.

Near the top of the script is the line:

INITSCRIPT="$(basename "$0")"

This won’t work when the computer boots, because basename doesn’t translate symbolic links to their target file. In other words, during boot the init daemon will run /etc/rc2.d/S20nmbd, which basename returns as S20nmbd. This results in the error start: Unknown job: S20nmbd.

The way to fix this problem is to simply change the line to:


Problems During Boot

I’ve had a weird thing happen twice already (about a week apart) upon boot. I’m still not sure what’s going on here, since it occurs rarely and seems to include multiple problems, possibly unrelated. So far I’ve noticed that it includes the following symptoms:

  • The Wicd Network Manager crashes upon logging into Gnome with the error “Could not connect to wicd’s D-Bus interface. Check the wicd log for error messages.” My wireless network is consequently unreachable and the Wicd client (/usr/share/wicd/gtk/ must be restarted.
  • The Apache server doesn’t start.
  • Opera does not remember “link position”: If you use the keyboard to navigate a page’s links, follow a link, then return to the previous page, Opera restarts the link position at the top of the page.

I haven’t investigated further, but if it happens again I will have to address the problem. These problems never occurred prior to the upgrade to Lucid Lynx, and certainly not together.

Other Stuff

  • I have my laptop set to go into hibernation when the battery power is critically low (Preferences -> Power Management). However, when I accidentally left it running without the AC adapter plugged in, I discovered that it had simply died. (Manual hibernation still works fine.)
  • Firefox 3.6 installs differently than 3.5 — it all goes into /usr instead of being spread across the filesystem. But Ubuntu didn’t update the application menus and applets, or their icons, for this change, so I had to do it manually. (The /usr/bin/firefox file is now also a symbolic link to the newest version.) Also, be aware that a lot of existing Firefox add-ons are incompatible with version 3.6.
  • My php.ini file was replaced, without any warning! Usually the upgrade process will ask if you want to replace a configuration file with the new default or keep your existing configuration, but this didn’t happen with the PHP update. As a result, no errors were showing up during web development — display_errors was OFF and log_errors was ON.

The Pretty

Like Ryan Paul over at Ars Technica, I actually adjusted to the new window controls pretty quickly. So the new window controls turned out to not be a problem after all.

Combined with the new Radiance theme, Canonical seems to have achieved their goal of updating the Ubuntu desktop to an improved look. The colors and contrast of the theme are a bit light on my laptop screen, but overall it’s pretty. I look forward to seeing what they’ll do with the newly opened space.


Ubuntu still has a far way to go if they want to compete against the Windows and Mac desktop systems. I knew I was taking a chance with the upgrade, but it’s discouraging to see the Linux distribution vendors still lagging behind their closed-source counterparts.

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