So now that I’ve concluded my compatibility testing between Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) and a rather large sample of our mainboards, we’re all set to start offering the option to ship systems with Hardy.
Throughout the testing, one thing I was pretty pleased with was to see some of the issues with 7.10 disappear for certain hardware configurations. The VIA CN series, for example, was nearly unusable in 7.10. In Hardy, however, it’s almost fully functional, save for the lack of the suspend option (which is a fairly common issue on many of our mainboards).
One big change they’ve done with the new release of Ubuntu is change the way the X Window System works. The detection of video hardware and driver usage is all automated now, so there’s nothing that has to be done by the end user. This is great in many cases, because it makes Ubuntu more attractive to a user who isn’t extremely comfortable opening up configuration files and making changes that could potentially make things much worse. The only major concern about this is that it’s now more difficult to make manual changes, so when certain features don’t work, it can be a little trickier to get them up and running.
One common problem I noticed with many of our platforms was the incorrect detection of the monitor connected to the system in use. I prefer not to highlight an issue, but I feel somewhat obligated to because I ran into this problem quite often. After some poking around, the best way I found to fix this is through the Screens and Graphics applet, which isn’t enabled as a menu option by default (but can be enabled easily). To enable it, you need to right click on the Applications Menu and select Edit Menu. From there, you will scroll down to the Other Menu; clicking on the Other Menu will populate a list of items to be enabled. The Screens and Graphics Menu is there, so you can check that, and select Okay. From there, you can access it by going to the Other Menu, under Applications (an odd place to put it, it was under the System Menu in 7.10, which made more sense).
The Screens and Graphics tool is pretty straight forward. Once you have it open, the best way to open up higher resolutions is to manually select a Generic Monitor of the desired resolution.
Now, other than that problem, I have to say that support for the hardware is better than I expected, and I can only imagine that it will continue to improve as the Mini-ITX market continues to grow. And then (one hopes) more able and willing boys and girls will have access to Mini-ITX hardware and will put forth the effort to improve the drivers for this hardware.
All of the results of my testing can be found
here (article no longer available), so the curious can take a look for oneself and see what we’ve found. In cases where there are serious issues, I do plan to continue to search for workarounds, as well as continue testing on additional platforms of ours that customers may be interested in purchasing with Ubuntu.