As with earlier distribution releases, I was happy with 2008.1 Spring and saw no need to immediately upgrade to 2009.0, so I thought I'd wait until 2009 Spring came out. When it did come out, of course it came with the very newest KDE 4.2 (as seen in the KDE live CD). I wanted to stick with KDE 3 though, at least until KDE 4.3 comes out, but apparently it's possible to install 2009 Spring with KDE 3, so I went ahead. Even though the desktop wouldn't change, at least I'd get important updates to programs like OpenOffice, Ekiga and so on. Unfortunately I jumped too soon and got a release with significant problems for me:
- Most importantly, the Intel video drivers were in bad shape. Intermittent flickering screens were annoying, but even worse it couldn't play any videos at all, even ones from my own digital camera. Each time it tried to play a video, either the video player (mplayer, totem, vlc) died, or X died, losing all unsaved work and spitting me back out to the login prompt. Not good, and apparently not fixable. Many, many people are having problems with Intel graphics drivers, from frozen systems to black screens, and it's not just the latest Mandriva release which is affected, also Ubuntu 9.04 has the same problems. More details are at h-online.com about how these big problems occurred.
- I couldn't install
eclipse - at the first attempt it said that it couldn't be installed because it relied on older versions of currently installed packages. Then the following day another attempt managed to install eclipse, but opening a java file launched gedit instead of using the eclipse editor (even though
eclipse-jdt was installed). Interestingly the window titles and dialogs mentioned "Mandriva eclipse" instead of "eclipse".
- Similarly I couldn't install
pdftk due to dependencies on older packages.
- I could install the screensaver
smoothslidesaver but couldn't choose it from KDE 3.
- Firefox looked normal under gnome but looked horrible and clunky under KDE 3.
So what to do? Most of those problems I could live with, or wait to get fixed, apart from the screen problems and the eclipse problems. So after reading more about the recent Intel driver problems, I bit the bullet and downloaded 2009.0.
As with the failed 2009.1 attempt, for 2009.0 I downloaded the One iso for Gnome, because I didn't want to install a confusing mix of KDE 3 and KDE 4 packages. I got this iso straight from the http link on my local mirror, rather than try an old torrent file. It still came down in less than 20 minutes though. After checking out that all the basics worked (including video playback!), I selected to install and to overwrite my root partition. The questions it asked were fairly straightforward, so apart from a worrying blank white rectangle which remained for several minutes (I thought this was the Intel drivers again!), it booted back into a new Gnome system.
There followed a(nother) lengthy update process, where I removed packages which I knew I didn't want, added my repositories, did an update, and then added back in lots of other stuff like java, eclipse, mplayer, openoffice math, gcc and so on. And then, bit the bullet and installed the magic
task-kde3 package which pulled in all the KDE 3 desktop stuff. It did surprisingly pull in some KDE 4 config files, but not much. But then I could select KDE from the login screen and get back to looking not very dissimilar from my old 2008.1 desktop.
No earth-shattering changes here, but we do get the latest Firefox 3.0.10 and OpenOffice 3.0.0, and also Ekiga 3.0.0 (what is it with all these version 3s?!). At the moment there are several niggles, and the list is unfortunately growing, not shrinking...:
- Touchpad tapping was reenabled, and I haven't managed to fix this yet. I've tried editing the xorg.conf file as always but this time it's not working - extremely annoying when typing. Something is rewriting the xorg.conf file but harddrake doesn't seem to be the culprit this time as it doesn't seem to be running. Update: fixed by removing harddrake (
- Eclipse is now called "Fedora eclipse" but works fine, including java editing and subclipse integration.
- Firefox still looked horrible, but apparently this was due to some old gtk configuration files from my home directory. I found them with "
find .kde -name "*gtk*"" and deleted them, then Firefox looked fine again.
- I still get the strange audio "click" from the laptop speakers on boot. Doesn't sound damaging but is fairly alarming.
- I now get the most annoying beeps and burps from every mouse click in several applications (including Firefox, Gimp, mcc, gedit and others, but not KDE applications). And it only happens in KDE, not in Gnome. And KDE system notifications are off, as are the gnome ones. Infuriating!
- Neither Skype nor Ekiga work any more, not being able to even call the test call services. Other sound works fine (sometimes too fine!) but these two apps which I really need to be able to use the sound system, can't for some reason, no matter how much tweaking with alsaconf, kmix, mcc, kcontrol etc I try.
- I couldn't compile KDE 3 applications any more, and didn't want to muck things up by installing too much KDE 4 stuff - but it turns out I needed to install the
libkdecore4-devel package and now I can compile KDE 3 things properly again. Although I still need to symlink things from
/opt/kde3/bin/ to run them.
- Strangely I didn't have the editor
kate but when I installed the
kate package I got the KDE 4 version which didn't play nicely with KDE 3 at all - icons were missing, KDEinit complained, desktop refresh didn't work, the taskbar couldn't launch other things, and the file selection dialog was broken. But I removed that package and added
kdebase-kate instead, and got the familiar KDE 3 kate back again, which works fine. Similarly, install
kdeutils-kcalc for kcalc, not the
- I couldn't select the
smoothslidesaver screen saver in KDE 3 even after adding the package. Turns out the
.desktop file was being installed in the wrong place for KDE 3, so I need to symlink this file from
/usr/share/applnk/System/ScreenSaver/ and now it works again. Update: Not sure if this is new behaviour but it now repeats slides very often, showing the same photo two or three times, even though there are thousands to choose from. Poor.
- Digikam didn't work at all, and appeared to be a KDE 4 version, with no corresponding KDE 3 version in sight. And when I ran it, it didn't display any of my photos! So I removed it and pulled in the 2008.1 version of digikam, which obviously had worked fine just a couple of days earlier, and this also didn't work, again showing the albums but none of the photos inside! Fortunately the photos hadn't been deleted, and not even deleted from digikam's database, it was just that digikam couldn't display any thumbnails any more. After some digging and some helpful advice from Greg2 I managed to fix it by symlinking a load of files from the previous KDE3 location to the new KDE3 location. What a royal pain.
- Some KDE 4 apps like ktorrent and kdiff3 can't find their icons so the GUIs look strange (no icons on the toolbar, for example) and the task tray icons are also blank.
- Occasionally the system just seems to lock up for a few seconds, with even the mouse pointer not moving. I never noticed this with earlier versions.
- OpenOffice 3.0.1 seems to have some problems with commas and semicolons in formulae - I'm not sure why they thought it necessary to change the standard for separating function arguments, but apparently they have. But they've left some bugs in, for example this one reported on Ubuntu. When you open old spreadsheets written with semicolons, they now get displayed with commas instead, without you having to change anything.
- OpenOffice 3.0.1 also has large bugs in the autosave function, which were reported before release but not fixed. So don't rely on OpenOffice's autosave function! If it crashes (and yes, it already has!), and don't restart OpenOffice until after you've found the temporary file, and copied it somewhere safe. When you start OpenOffice, it'll delete the temporary file and reload your last manual save, which will cause you pain and distress.
- OpenOffice 3.0.1 also has large bugs when exporting documents with formulae to pdf files. It'll conveniently corrupt your formulae for you, replacing numbers with random characters.
- Update: I installed OpenOffice 3.1.0 from their tar file, which works ok but chews up to 50% of the CPU even when it's not doing anything, and scrolls really slowly even for short (6-page) documents. And the Gui looks horrible under KDE unless you start it with the magic command "
OOO_FORCE_DESKTOP=gnome soffice". Also the pdf export bugs are still there (although slightly different) in OOo 3.1, meaning you have to carefully check each pdf you make to check that OpenOffice hasn't mangled it for you.
- Pressing the "Win" key and "E" together no longer launches Konqueror (probably just KDE configuration).
- Occasionally the CPU usage jumped high, spinning up the hard drive and chunnering for a long time. The process monitor shows something called "rpmv" running, which is controlled by msec. Apparently it's something to do with verifying rpms, (even though none have been installed or removed lately), but this can be disabled in the msec configuration.
So far, a complete waste of time. I wish I'd kept 2008.1 while it was working. In fact I'm tempted to go back to it, apart from the fact that I've spent so much time trying to get 2009.1 and 2009.0 working...