Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mageia 2 Upgrade Success

I've just completed upgrading my HP Mini1000 Netbook (1GB RAM 60GB HD) using the in-place / seamless upgrade option. Seamless is not the word to describe it. Took a few hours because I chose to download all the files first. I didn't have access to an external DVD drive so this was forced on me. It felt forced because a notification came up saying that there will be no new updates for the current installed distribution (Mageia 1). A bit premature don't you think?

A few minor hiccups and surprises
  • Surprise! The Marvell drivers automatically detected the network when I plugged in the network cable. In the past, required a reboot with the cable plugged in to enable the interface. 
  • Hiccup. My on-board Broadcom Wiress NIC failed to work. Had some experience on this before when I first migrated Mageia so I knew what to do. Went into Mageia Control Center (MCC) and tried configuring the wireless card. Came back with response saying it needed the dkms-broadcom packages but was not part of the main distribution. Ignored link to generic Linux firmware and driver. Enabled Non-Free Repositories and re-configured network in MCC. This time it loaded the drives ok. But.. 
  • Hiccup. ..still couldn't connect. Entered the right SSID and key and key types. Finally gave up and allowed the Gnome Network Center control over it. It is an option that is off by default below the advanced section. Turned it on, Network Center asked for password. Gave it and it connected ok.
  • Hiccup. Mouse clicking is set to off by default. Took me some time to figure that out. Enabled it again on the Settings dialogue.

< rant > Over first impression of Gome 3 is bad. But that is because it reminds me so much of Suse Linux's gnome schema. And that was a huge stumbling block to productivity in a project I was working on a few years back. Back then it was confusing descriptions and duplicate descriptions for 2 different programs. Some free advice to the Gnome UI guys: Forget "Applications". Try "Work", "Play" and "Connect" and sub-divide from there. Put a Mageia Icon to replace the Applications and offer those three choices when it is clicked.
And why keep trying to look like Windows 3.1  Program Manager with the big icons? It was a bad design. Nobody missed it in the move to Windows 95.
The MCC was also hard to find. This is nuts because it is so central when setting up Mageia for the first time. Some Gnome settings apps could not configure the underlying components because MCC denies them access. Case in point: Wireless Network configuration. 
What makes this version worse is the thick window borders. I can see and fit less in a screen. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to open a text editor, set it to "Always on top" and takes notes over another application or webpage. Maybe I can configure the border thickness, I haven't figured it out yet. 
What compounded my frustration is that I installed a Mac yesterday. I know that since Apple sets the hardware, there is no surprise when you first turn it on. I will take that as one end of the scale. But the problems that I face today is less about the wide-range of hardware Linux has to support. It feels like we just are making life harder for us for the sake of making it harder. 
< /rant >

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