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Replacing OpenSUSE 11 GA with a Beta of Ubuntu

A while back I replaced Mint 4 on my main production desktop system (A Dell 745) with OpenSUSE 11. Since then I have been loading up every update that OpenSUSE has released on a nearly daily basis. The good news is that in almost every way, OpenSUSE 11 is a terrific release, and light years ahead of where it was when I first started messing around with SUSE back in the release 5 days.


Everything is better: YAST. multihead graphics support. updating software. I did not leave OpenSUSE because I did not like it.


I left it because with its Gnome 2.22 desktop it was running by definition Evolution 2.22, and that was becoming a real problem. Evolution ultimately never turned out to be as stable on OpenSUSE 11 / Evo 2.22 as it was on Mint 4 with Evo 2.12. I stuck with it so that I could keep feeding the bug reports to Evolutions development team, and that in fact was why I decided to move.


Every single bug I had reported had turned out to be a duplicate of an already repaired bug, and most of the repairs were in Gnome 2.24 / Evolution 2.24. I was wasting my time and the Gnome teams time, so I quit reporting it every time Evolution crashed. But it did crash, all the time. A good week was a week of seven days of runtime before a crash, and a bad day was three or four times a day.


I get my email and calendars off an MS Exchange 2003 server. This stuff has to work for me!


At the same time that all this was going on I was watching the progress of the Evolution MAPI service provider.  They had hoped to make the 2.24 release, but unsurprisingly they had to move to 2.26 of Gnome instead: Even with the documentation of the MAPI and related protocols available due to the EU's Microsoft Anti-trust actions, it was / is a pile of work to unwind that and make it work with Evolution. MS has been continually updating MAPI for years with each new release of Outlook and MS Exchange, and it probably bears small resemblance at this point to the old Open Protocol Simple MAPI that MS published many years ago.


I had been hoping that MAPI would make 2.24 for one very simple reason: While I am on an MS Exchange 2003 server *now*, the minute the IT folks decide to upgrade to MS Exchange 2007, it is all over for the Evolution Connector. Connector relies on the fact the MS used a version of the WebDAV protocol to create the web interface to MS Exchange 2000 and 2003. MS, for whatever reason, dropped WebDAV for the web interface of MS Exchange 2007.

With MS Exchange 2007 in place, and with no native MAPI connector in Evolution, I would have to get to email via either Codeweavers running MS Outlook, the new Web interface, or possible IMAP if it is enabled, although that would not give me access to my calendar or contacts. In fact, if the EU had not done what they did, with MS Exchange 2007, I would have no chance of a native MS Exchange client ... even one that crashes.


So: OpenSUSE version of Evolution crashing. OpenSUSE 11.1 not out till December. MAPI not out till Gnome 2.26 at the earliest, but I am still on MS Exchange 2003 for the moment. Looking through the release notes for Ubuntu 8.10 beta I saw they were using Gnome 2.24, which meant Evolution 2.24, and all my crashes are supposed to be fixed there. May be new ones, but at least I'd be reporting real problems!

My history of Ubuntu installs made me feel that the chances of the Beta being stable were pretty good, so I decided to go for it.

Ubuntu 8.10 Install and Evolution 2.24 Upgrade


The 8.10 install was the now-normal Ubuntu install, and still has the graphical time zone chooser that I dislike. The disk partition stuff is much nicer looking, and worked well on manual to let me set up the disks the way I wanted. I keep '/' separate from '/home' so it was easy to re-format '/' and have OpenSUSE be totally gone.


After a very fast install, and the usual updates and re-adding packages I use, like 'hfsplus' and so forth, Ubuntu booted right up. I do mean right up. Fast! The OpenSUSE boot was not slow, but this one just flew.


Next, I moved .evolution to .evolution.suse11, brought up Evolution and redefined my WebDAV access to the MS Exchange server. I brought that down, then copied my filters and folders from the .evolution.suse11 back over to the fresh new .evolution, and brought Evolution back up.


Next I clicked on each folder I had just imported so that all it's meta would be re-created: Apparently the new Evolution 2.24 uses SQlite for folders metadata now. This might explain something, at least in part: The new Evolution 2.24 is fast. Way fast. Unbelievably fast. This is the most dramatic improvement in performance I have ever seen in any upgrade of Evolution, going *way* back to the early days.


One week of being up on Ubuntu 8.10 beta as my main, most production like system: No crashes of any kind. No OS, no Evolution. Nothing. Just clean and green.


FWIW: I still have OpenSUSE 11 on my IBM T41. Its too nifty not to have around someplace.

Its Even Better Than That Though


I would have been happy just having Evolution stable. Add in how fast it is, and I am really happy. But wait, there is *more*

The new hddtemp / Sensors Gnome toolbar applet is cool. For one thing, the nVidia GPU reports its temperature there now. After frying one of these, I like this a lot. Also I can edit the disk labels (which defaults to the manufacturers mode number now).


Getting the dual screen setup going required a little work, but it wasn't bad. After telling the restricted hardware driver I wanted to use it's recommended hardware drivers, it downloaded and installed them just fine. Going to 'system/administration' I ran the nVidia X server set up, and had my dual screens going in no time... but it would not save the config back to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.


I exited the setup, popped up a terminal, and ran 'sudo /usr/bin/nvidia-settings', and now it would save to xorg.conf, no problem.

OpenOffice is / was 2.4.1 on the Beta disk, and while it has been updated, it is still 2.4.1 rather than 3.0. Hopefully this will change soon. I have been running 3.0 on other systems and it is a very nice upgrade (and a whole different post...). Main thing is that the MS Office document compatibility continues to improve, and that is, next to having Evolution working, key to being a Linux desktop user in the MS Windows world.