Rapid response

Bluetooth support arrived in Kubuntu 8.10 in last night’s round of updates… This morning a rather welcome little bluetooth icon appeared in my system tray and all is well with the world. Awesome.

To intrepidly go where many men have already gone

Now. I am not an Operating Systems wonk.  My computer is the applications; the operating system is largely uninteresting. It has to be easy to use, easy to configure and easy on the eye, but beyond that I don’t really care that much. That, combined with laziness and a desire for other more adventurous people to iron out the kinks mean that I tend to lag behind on the OS front.

My main desktop is 18 months old, my file server at home 2 years and, until a couple of weeks ago, my laptop was a year (Hardy Heron). I’ve liked each release enough to not feel the need to upgrade until forced.

Two weeks ago I took the plunge and upgraded my laptop to Kubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) to see how I liked it before upgrading my ailing main desktop…  And for the last 2 weeks I’ve been a whining frustrated pain in the arse to anyone who’ll listen.

I love Ubuntu.  It was the first Linux distribution that “just worked” for me.  To find that this latest and greatest version doesn’t “just work” in some really key areas was a bit of a disappointment.  My expectation (rightly or wrongly) is that each release will improve upon the last.  It’s certainly been my experience to date. Each Ubuntu release has been markedly better than the previous one in really useful ways (particularly as a heavy laptop user).

So – my woes?

  1. Missing scrollbar in Thunderbird, weird display problems on Firefox tabs and browser form elements and general user interface brokeness.
  2. Network manager not appearing to start on each boot, and when it does start, not automatically connecting to previously known networks (despite being configured to do so)
  3. No bluetooth support (particularly to get images off my phone, which is my primary use)


  1. Install the human-theme package.  Then in System Settings -> Appearance -> GTK Styles and Fonts select “Use another style” and choose Human from the dropdown in the “GTK Styles” section
  2. Edit /etc/NetworkManager/nm-system-settings.conf.  In the section [ifupdown], set “managed=true” (this worked for me, doesn’t seem to work for everyone)
  3. This one sucks the most, but the news is that it will be fixed extremely soon; the fix is done and in testing, and such an important thing not working is getting lots of attention. To workaround while waiting for the proper fix I installed the bluez-gnome and obextool packages and then run bluetooth-applet when I want to connect to the phone, and obextool for a really shonky two-way file transfer app.  At least I can get photos off my phone now though, despite the kludginess.

Now that I’ve got these things sorted I can settle down and enjoy what is actually a really nice OS.  While I value working bluetooth over UI sugar I can’t argue with the huge interface improvements.  It really is a joy to use, and many of the features of KDE4 that I initially rejected as frippery are actually really useful.

I just wish my initial experience had been as good as it was with Gutsy and Hardy. Here’s hoping Jaunty is a little less frustrating to get going.

Hello again, it’s good to be back

125_g.jpgIn case you were wondering where I’ve been, we’ve been having a baby.  That and an avalanche of work has kept me rather quiet. We didn’t have no.3 at home (like we did no.2), but York community midwives were again fantastic, just this time at the hospital; I can’t thank them enough.