I’ve upgraded my desktop to vanilla Ubuntu 15.10, up from Ubuntu GNOME 15.04. When I did the simple upgrade from Ubuntu GNOME it failed to boot into the graphical environment. It’s always a bit of a panic to boot into a blank screen. After looking through logs and searching on forums I understood that removing proprietary graphics drivers would fix it, which it did.

Unfortunately, even though it was able to show the graphical desktop, there was obvious abnormal behaviour, like this bar which shouldn’t separate the title and tabs in Firefox:

gnome_line

I could have lived with the bar, but X kept crashing along with other more subtle glitches, multicolour noise and dotted lines under dialogs in Nautilus, not a healthy system. Steam needed reinstalling (including manually deleting all the outdated libraries it comes with) and the GNOME bluetooth manager didn’t support an A2DP profile on my bluetooth headphones.

Oh yeah, I got new headphones, you can switch tracks in VLC media player using just the volume buttons, it’s wireless magic.

I’ve got my home folder on a separate disk so it was a simple case of formatting the OS disk and installing a fresh copy of Ubuntu in its place. Even though this stuff’s supposed to be straightforward it always makes me nervous. Thankfully it went off without a hitch, and I was happily surprised by how much program data was kept on /home. My RSS feeds, firefox preferences, emails, this blog data, all kept safe, and now my pc feels comfortably stable.

Ruby and Jekyll didn’t survive, so I took the advantage when reinstalling them to move up to Jekyll version three 3.0.1. So far the only substantial change I’ve noticed is that relative URLs were broken, so I’m using direct links now (set by site.url in the config file). Maybe this slows down site generation, but I haven’t noticed so far. I’ve also improved the deploy script so that it overwrites file permissions every time it runs. This feels horribly inefficient, but I could make it change permissions a thousand times over and not think it too many, the cost in electricity, bandwidth and processor time is negligible.

I’ve got two ideas for projects, the first is a web app, which requires learning some basic Javascript, and possibly PHP.

The second idea is to build a sort of poor man’s streaming media server on the local network in our house. Both my pirateboxes are bricked, but there’s a spare Raspberry Pi sitting idle in Oxford which will do nicely. It would allow me to listen to music on my phone/netbook/desktop, and I’d set up a cron job to automatically download podcasts (via bashpodder) at night when the connection’s free. YouTube and BBC iPlayer also have their own command line downloaders, so I could set them to grab the latest shows as they become available. I’ll try it out once I’m back in Oxford.