Upgrade to Ubuntu 8.04 - Success... mostly

imageI finally upgraded my machine to Hardy Heron last night / this morning. I have to say, as nail-bitingly tense as something drastic like an upgrade can be, this went quite smoothly. Well, almost smoothly.There's a certain kernel programmer I need to find, that is going to get the brunt of my wrath when I get a hold of him. The dude who thought it was a clever idea to make the Apple Slim Aluminum keyboard behave more "Mac-like" is getting a Logitech G-15 upside the head when I find him. (That is, if Best Buy doesn't take it back tomorrow).

Yes, friends, there's a story in that keyboard.

For starters, most everything upgraded smoothy from Gutsy to Hardy Heron, with a few issues here and there for good measure. The first issue I took care of was removing all traces of the i386 kernel from my machine, as that caused all sorts of hell and havok with the video drivers. Then I had to downgrade the NVidia drivers because of an issue with Unreal Tournament. Fine, whatever.

The worst was when I realized that my keyboard stopped working. Totally.

Soon after booting the machine, I was greeted with a non-working keyboard. Puzzled, I pulled out a spare keyboard that I keep around for such emergencies (an old PS/2 model from Digital). I found there was an issue that was new for 2.6.24 where a certain kernel developer decided to take the Macintosh keyboard and make it more friendly for those coming over to Linux. You can read the pages and pages of discussion for Bug 201887, but suffice to say, this is allegedly how the keyboard should have worked from day one. Except it didn't work that way under Gutsy, and nobody seemed to give a shit except this guy, who may have made life a little simpler for one or a few people running Linux on Macbook and Macbook Pro machines, but in turn made my life miserable (and several other authors on that bug report).

So, I did the only sane thing I thought of and went keyboard shopping, After all, this problem only existed because I have a strange fetish for Apple Keyboards, so rectifying it would be easily taken care of by removing said Aple hardware. Problem solved.

Friends, I hate to break it to you, but all of the PC keyboards out there suck. Bigtime.

I can't tell you how many keyboards I looked at today at Microcenter, Staples, and Best Buy, but the general consensus for PC keyboards is as follows:

  1. PC keyboards that aren't $80+ are complete shit.
  2. PC keyboards are designed to have as many buttons as they can physically cram onto the surface.
  3. PC keyboard manufacturers differentiate their product by fucking with the keyboard layout and key sizes (I'm looking right at you, Logitech with your "innovative" vertical delete button and tiny escape buttons).
  4. Most keyboards that are worth using are all cordless. Cordless Keyboards that use Bluetooth are extremely expensive.
  5. The only keyboards that take layout and feel seriously, and aren't cordless are all gaming models. Some of them even look good on a desk.

In the course of looking at computer keyboards for a day, I've come to the realization that the only keyboard manufacturers that share my aesthetic for computer keyboards is Apple and Das Keyboard. Das Keyboard gets a mention because it seems they actually put some thought into their keyboard, but it still looks like the old IBM Model M keyboards, and the lack of any identification on the keycaps really irks me.

So tonight I decided to play around with the Logitech G-15 keyboard. Yeah, the keyboard looks more at home on an aircraft carrier than my desktop, but it was the least offensive out of all of the keyboards I played with this afternoon. It even has a useful daemon under Linux that displays the time in the LCD window (handy!). Unfortunately, there was a problem with it and Urban Terror that caused it to crash on me, so I decided to figure out what the heck was wrong with the Apple keyboard instead. After about 10 minutes of hacking and searching, I figured out what the problem was, and fixed it.

Tomorrow, the Logitech G-15 goes back to Best Buy, and my opinion of the PC keyboard industry remains firmly that there isn't a soul in that camp that understands what I'm looking for in a keyboard.

Oh, and Hardy is running great. I absolutely love it. I disabled tracker and pulseaudio because they didn't seem to give me any benefit, but overall I'm very hapy I upgraded. At least, now I am. :)