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Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part III: Fixing What the Leading Edge Cuts

Bill Malchisky  May 18 2011 04:00:00 AM
Not only is the installation of Ubuntu 11.04 easy, but its new environment provides many nice enhancements. To make these a reality, well....sometimes one group of developers (i.e. the operating system team) can get ahead of another development group (i.e. an ISV). When this occurs, there exists a settlement period, during which, various levels of success exist, depending upon what you are using and how. You may never see some of the irksome events in any application that plague a colleague. That is the nature of computers. Ubuntu is no exception in this case. This installment looks at some of these facets, how to fix them and at a deeper level, why they occur.

Changing Application Window Scrollbars Is Just a Wafer Thin Change

One new innovation is overlay scrollbars. Here is the link to the project page. You will see them in all native applications. Applications like Firefox and Chrome omit this feature. The advantage is that the new scrollbar design saves screen space in the respective application window. However, as they are new, some programs will not work well with them initially and can crash. Why? Those programs are expecting a different widget in the windowing system. Change in anyway how a particularly widget functions, calling that widget can then cause problems. This is part of the reason much of the issues we see in Microsoft Windows will never get fixed--for if they were, thousands of programs will stop working; those applications have been built with their own bug fixes to shore-up Windows... but I digress.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part III: Fixing What the Leading Edge Cuts

The underlying cause is due to a gtk+ patch that only covered (patched) the gtk scrolled window and used by the overlay scrollbars, and omitted alternative GtkScrollbar class (native). Thus, creating an imbalance. Stating that, you are free to try different window managers---which provide different widget sets---and see how your results fare too. Example, trying Ubuntu Classic Desktop in lieu of Unity, if you prefer the feel of Gnome 2. When logging in, you can choose a window manager before accepting your password to commence authentication. One of the powerful capabilities of a well built object oriented network focused operating system.

Getting your Virtual Machines Working

ISVs will fix their applications for Unity in-time. Although I surmise perhaps not soon enough for some that want to use their applications immediately.

A good example here is VMware, which typically lags a new release of any operating system, as they have to test against OS kernels and insert their hooks. This is not a negative against VMware, but a positive as they are careful. But you should know that if your host OS in a VMware environment is Ubuntu 11.04, you will not get to your VMs easily. This is why on my primary laptop, I typically update the host based upon VMware Workstation's release schedule. However, they have released a patch to assist. Here's the link to get Ubuntu working with both the original released kernel 2.6.37 and updated kernel 2.6.38-8.

Here is a an excerpt from a post submitted by a VMware support forum moderator vanRijn, on 25 Mar 2011 regarding 11.04 kernel support in Workstation 7.1.3:
"It's not the X server changes that caused this, but rather the version of Gtk that just got put into 11.04. As the UI stack trace shows, it's a problem in
Glib::OptionGroup. We have resolved the problem internally and this will be addressed in an upcoming release. Thanks for the bug report!"

Forum contributor, tsuther@i3bus… provided a VMware workstation patch and step-by-step guide here.

The alternative option is to upgrade to Workstation 7.1.4, where it is supposed to be fixed, but not really. The new scrollbars cause an issue. As a brute force workaround, you can remove the scrollbars via the instructions provided here.

Save these steps, because when VMware releases a fix, you can just reverse the process to reinstate the overlay scrollbars.
Also make sure you update VMware Tools in each VM when prompted.

In Part II of this series, I discussed the benefits of the History view in the Ubuntu Software Center. What the picture below shows is that the GUI installation tools and the command line set are linked to the installed applications. That is good and ensures integrity of the process.

Image:Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part III: Fixing What the Leading Edge Cuts

General Desktop Usage and Thoughts

Back to the desktop... to move the Launcher icons, the previous process of right click -> Move is now changed. You just click, hold, and slide the icon laterally towards the screen center (off the bar) then insert it the target location on the Launcher bar. For the system icons (Applications, Files & Folders) they appear at the bottom of the launcher and can not be relocated to the top. So, if you want to use them, you have to keep moving the mouse to the far left corner. This GUI enhancement is inefficient and irks me. One of the reasons Windows has been traditionally charged with poor GUI design, is because the Start button has been historically in the bottom left corner. Apple's OS X and Linux improved here by having the menu and applications available on the top-half of the screen.

Years ago, I used a tool in Linux called the mousepedometer, a utility within the KDE application set. It is basically a pedometer for your mouse. Tried it for a business week with the menus on the top-half of the screen (Linux model) and bottom edge of the screen (Windows model). The results weren't even close. The amount real estate covered with the Windows model far exceeded my expectations--in the thousands of meters (long days). Since then, I always move the menus to the top edge of all work stations for efficiency purposes. Amazingly, doing this confuses many Windows users and they immediately drag the start button back to the bottom, complain, or call the Help Desk. But I digress...

The search capability hides the previously simple and well organized menu system Ubuntu offered. Now, users need to remember what the name of the software program is, or guess how it is tagged. If your interpretation of the desired tool is different than the developer's, you may have an installed application that you are unable to find easily and thus, may go underutilized or worse, replaced with something else.

For light users, I think the design is fine and may just be what many need to fully embrace the Linux desktop experience. Power users may be disenfranchised, but as we are a smaller unit of potential users, we are also smart enough to know we have options. I will have a post on this shortly.

Thanks for reading. More Linux goodness comes soon, I assure you.

1Bob  5/18/11 1:46:36 PM  Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part III: Fixing What the Leading Edge Cuts

What do you do for LN, Bill? iNotes?

2Bill Malchisky  6/28/11 7:03:42 PM  Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 -- Part III: Fixing What the Leading Edge Cuts

Hi Bob: For Lotus Notes on Linux, I use Lotus Notes if on Ubuntu, Red Hat, or SuSE Desktop. Additionally, yes, iNotes works great too. Notes 8.5.2 can run on Ubuntu 10.04 x64, and 11.04 unofficially as Lotus (and most vendors) only certify their applications against an LTS build to ensure stabilty while keeping costs in-line.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Thanks for reading.

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