I'm having a play with Ubuntu's latest bleeding edge release right now, Dapper Drake - Flight 4. Frankly I'm pretty amazed, I've been a long time Debian user, but being an old school sort of guy I've never really got around to using Gnome much. The Ubuntu theming is great, I'm no fan of the colour brown but the gorgeous subtle backgrounds are twisting my arm.
The best bit is that I've not even had to sacrifice a usable PC to the gods of unstable software, I've installed Dapper Drake under Virtual PC 2004 (currently available on a 45-Day free trial), and apart from three minor bits of craptitude it's worked fine. These problems being getting graphics and sound working, I'm blaming MS for their poor virtualisation, but who knows! Anyway all three were easily resolved:
To see the install: The default choice for the installer appears to be a VGA mode which Virtual PC emulates poorly. Change this this by pressing F3 before you select "start installation" and choose another video mode, I chose the first one below VGA - 640x480x32.
To get X working correctly:
- Press 'Ctrl + Alt + F1' (or F2 - F6) to switch to console mode
- Type 'cd /etc/X11'
- Type 'sudo pico xorg.conf' - you need to be root to edit this file, hence sudo
- Scroll down to the section 'Screen' and find the entry named 'DefaultDepth'. Change the setting you find there from 24 to 16.
- Press 'Ctrl + x' and save the changes
- Press 'Ctrl + Alt + F7' to get back to X (this will still not be easily viewable)
- Press 'Ctrl + Alt + Backspace' to restart X
To get sound working add 'snd-sb16' to /etc/modules (again edit this as root), and reboot the Virtual PC.
Both tips can be found in these notes for using Hoary Hedgehog on Virtual PC