I have been doing alpha and beta testing with Ubuntu since around version 6.06 – Dapper Drake. I have taken this install through every alpha and beta stage and everything in between. In the end, it is still up and running very well with version 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. Although there have been some issues over the transition periods (havoc with network manager and Nvidia drivers mostly), overall, things have gone very well. I would say the upgrade process is about as painless as possible for a distro that does not use the rolling release method.
Finally, after all of these releases, I encountered a problem that I could not seem to fix entirely. Not surprisingly, it was with Nvidia. The issue that I noticed was that I was not able to play any 3D accelerated games in full screen. I am not talking about high level graphically demanding games but rather Frets on Fire. I even installed a derivative of Tuxracer from the Ubuntu repos to test and it would not work either.
Normally I would have continued attacking the issue, but I really wanted to get Frets on Fire but mainly the fork called Fofix working. So, instead, I installed a fresh copy of Ubuntu 8.10 on a different partition for testing. I had testing the same software on a couple of different machines running the same version of Ubuntu and one even contained an Nvidia graphics card. Both worked fine. In fact, the full screen mode had been working fine on my own install until a recent upgrade.
The main issue was with the /usr/lib/libGL.so.1 file which apparently was owned by both the Ubuntu Nvidia package and one called libgl1-mesa-glx. The issue was reported as a bug. My system was actually a 32 bit install but no matter what I tried, I could not fix this issue. I tried using aptitude, dpkg and apt-get along with synaptic to force and overwrite just about anything that I thought would fix the issue. In the end, I figured that after numerous alpha and beta transitions it might be time to try a new install. So, I installed Ubuntu 8.10 final release on a different partition and everything seemed to work as planned. I did uninstall network manager and manually edit the /etc/network/interfaces file in order to achieve using a fixed IP address. Network manager seemed to allow me to edit the settings, but didn’t seem to change them properly. For example, there is no much thing as a Netmask value known as “24″, yet every time I entered 255.255.255.0, that’s what it returned. Network manager is fairly advanced in some respects, but in other ways, it needs a lot of work.
With my fresh install, I have Frets on Fire working and Fofix fires right up in full screen. I had no trouble installing the Nvidia driver provided by the Ubuntu repositories as well. My old install must contain some old files or rules that interfere. Yes, I did use the “Cruft Remover” which is a handy new tool but that didn’t solve this particular problem.
I am fairly confident that had I not taken my install through all of the alpha and beta releases that I would not have encountered this issue. It also makes it nearly impossible to get help on it as not many people would be so masochistic. I am not sure what I will do with my current previous Ubuntu install. I may just keep it around for non-production use and to see the new features only and leave my new install for official releases only.
One of the bonuses with the new install is a faster boot time, nicer and more modern boot screen. In the meantime, I can try a really thorough clean up on my previous install and see what happens from there.