Ubuntu Karmic and external displays

community, freesoftware, gnome 11 Comments

It was with some trepidation that I plugged in an external monitor into my laptop today to test how Ubuntu 9.10 handles external displays. In my last three upgrades the behaviour has changed and l’ve ended up on more than one occasion in front of a group telling them I’d get started in just a minute…

But yesterday, when I plugged in an external CRT monitor to see how things would react ahead of a training course I was giving this morning, I was pleasantly surprised! The new screen was automatically added to the right side of my existing screen to make a large virtual desktop. When I opened display preferences, mirroring the screens worked perfectly. When I unplugged the CRT, the desktop degraded gracefully – nothing froze or crashed, I didn’t get a reboot, and all the applications which were displaying on the external screen were seamlessly displayed on my laptop display. Bliss! Everything worked just as I expected it to.

So kudos to the Ubuntu integrators, and the Xorg and GNOME developers, and especially to the developers working on the Intel X drivers, for making me smile yesterday. You have given me hope that this year I will attend at least one tech conference where no Linux user has trouble with the overhead projector.

Update: I meant Karmic Koala, Ubuntu 9.10, not Jaunty. Thanks to Marius Gedimas for pointing that out.

Running advice

General, home 2 Comments

Coincidentally, I was running a 10km race this weekend in Vénissieux, and Chris Blizzard replied to an email about running I sent him months ago. At the time, I gave him a few tips on getting started in running without getting injured, and reading back, I think they are worth sharing.

Advice from a recent beginner

When you start running regularly, take it very easy before you start upping the distance. Your heart & muscles will tell you to go further & faster before your joints are ready for it. Trainers say that you can up your total weekly distance no more than 10% per week. And running more regularly is worth more than running long in fewer sessions. Four three mile runs is better than two six mile runs.

When you do decide to start running further, start doing it in fractions – run 1 mile, walk 1 minute, run 1 mile, walk 1 minute. If you’re on 10 minute per mile pace, that’ll drop you to 11 minutes per mile, but you’ll be able to run 7 or 8 miles easily.

Vary fast & long runs. If you’re starting to stretch out runs & regularly going more than 5 miles in a run, try swapping out one of those 5 mile runs for something like:

  • Warm up 2 miles
  • 4x800m at a faster pace (if you jog 10 minute miles, then try to run your half-mile split in 4 minutes) with 2 minutes  break between splits.
  • Warm down 1 mile

If you always run long & slow, you’ll stay a slow runner. If you start training your body to run a little faster, you’ll improve the entire system – cardio & muscular. And you sweat more too.

To lose weight, do that 5 or 6 mile run on a Saturday morning – don’t starve yourself the night before, and drink water or tea  before your run by all means, but running in the morning on an empty stomach will help you drop those pounds. Once you go over about 30 to 40 minutes running time, you’re eating fat. If you’re diabetic, this might not be advised.

And don’t forget that every body is different, no one scheme or training plan works for everyone. Your body’s a machine, and it’s one which can be made very efficient with maintenance.

Once you get to the stage where you’re running that speed work, you might consider adding some shorter sprints & really start getting faster ;-)

The trough of disillusionment for Ubuntu?

community, freesoftware 13 Comments

Reading this blog entry on Linux Magazine, the thought occurred to me that Ubuntu is making its way nicely along the path that new projects have travelled for many years. It is around the same place that Red Hat used to be around the time of Red Hat 7.

The Hype Cycle describes the way that new technologies and projects are perceived over time, if they do a good job of handling themselves, going from a technology trigger, inflated expectations, disillusionment, enlightenment, before arriving at “the plateau of productivity” – a state where there is no more hype and the new technology is simply a normal part of our lives.

Ubuntu arrived with a bang, and certainly has had inflated expectations over the past couple of years. And yet due to quality issues, it has recently been failing to meet those expectations, especially around upgrading from previous versions (by no means an easy problem to get right, don’t get me wrong). Many long-time Ubuntu users appear to be getting upset.

But then, you don’t get upset about things you don’t care about.

This disillusionment, if it doesn’t turn into resignation, could be a sign of health in the Ubuntu project and community – on condition that the lessons of quality are learned and put into practice. Certainly this is a drum that Mark Shuttleworth has been beating for some time now – but unfortunately it’s not as easy as asking upstream to get their act together in a Tom Sawyer community model. QA seems like an ideal opportunity for collaboration between distributions and upstream projects, as well as being the core activity of each individual distribution. Supplying quality is, after all, the market opportunity which Linux distributions base their business models on.

In any case, I for one am looking forward to the deflated expectations being met and exceeded in future releases, allowing us Ubuntu users to make it to the Plateau of Productivity as soon as possible.