Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What a difference a new release makes (or: LTS vs Latest)

I've been sticking with Ubuntu's LTS releases since I got out of school mostly because I don't have the time anymore to do a monolithic upgrade and then fix everything it breaks afterward.  I've actually been championing them, because changing your whole system every 6 months is just asking for trouble. But I've been running 14.04 on this new Mac Book Pro at work and haven't been wowed by the hardware support. I think LTS is perfect for my 6 year old Thinkpad that has had full linux hardware support OOTB for 5 years or so, but with the latest greatest hardware, you need the latest greatest software.

As usual the kernel has a lot of driver improvements already, but using 3.13 or whatever kernel 14.04 was stuck on didn't have them. The machine was working enough to get my tasks done but I had wifi disconnects very very frequently, I can't hot swap mini-display ports for my second monitor, and several other inconveniences reign. I'd tried just updating the kernel in 14.04 but I think I needed to recompile glibc and/or a whole bunch of other things for it to really work and I haven't had time to go figure that out either. Amazing what I'll put up with just so I can use i3wm.

So yesterday I couldn't take it any more. I wanted some of those fixes in the recent kernels. So I did the monolithic upgrade to "Utopic". I did it through the terminal (sudo do-release-upgrade) and everything went quite smoothly. It took most of the day, but already I feel like it's better (placebo effect?). 14.10 is using kernel 3.16 and next month I'll go to 15.04 when its realeased which will have kernel 3.19 (which should at least fix thunderbolt/midi display hot swapping if I understand correctly).

Oops, spoke too soon. Wifi just dropped. (Which, by the way, happens to the guys actually running OSX on theirs too, we've got weird wifi issues at the office). So here's hoping 3.19 will be the bee's knees. Fingers crossed.

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