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Old 11-08-2008, 06:02 AM
"John Rudd"
Default My first experiences and questions with Ubuntu-UMPC

I finally figured out what was wrong with my SD card (I noticed that
the imagewriter utility was doing a slightly different dd command, and
at first I thought it was wrong, and stopped it to do the dd by hand,
but realized maybe I was wrong and let imagewriter re-try -- sure
enough, I was wrong, it worked fine).

There's still lots of rough edges here. To be fair, I know
Ubuntu-UMPC is still rather new, so I expect lots of rough edges. The
following criticisms are meant to be constructive, and not flames.
And, to be clear, this is on a Q1 Ultra Premium. If you'd like me to
post these somewhere else, please say so.

Not everything is finger friendly, not even all of the scroll bars.
It's kind of annoying to have to pull out stylus or fiddle with the
mouse-joystick a lot. It would be nice if the midbrowser had inertial
scrolling (it stops dead when I let go of a dragged scroll, instead of
continuing on like it had inertia ... for examples, see drag scrolling
on the iPhone or on Android). It also seemed to frequently get
confused between "dragging" and "clicking" (I go to swipe, but I
happened to land on a link, so it goes to the url, despite the fact
that I was clearly making a dragging motion). Or it recognizes a
click, but only to move the mouse there ... not to actually click the

(and, note, I'm not saying I dislike that the mouse has been retained,
both the hardware mouse/joystick and the mouse pointer -- I like that
the mouse and stylus/finger modes are being blended where they can ...
I'm finding it to be much more useful than what Maemo did)

It would be nice if the pop-up menu in midbrowser would show you the
application menu (File, Edit, View, History, Bookmarks, Tools, Help).
I can't even figure out how to set my start page in midbrowser (and,
no, "about:config" isn't good enough -- that's hardly a friendly
interface). Given the choice between "partial drag scrolling" in
Midbrowser, and "fully accessible options/menus/preferences" in
Firefox, I'm about to give Firefox a try. I can see a couple possible
solutions here:

1) Make an easy to select method for making the menu and bookmark
toolbars visible. Perhaps a button on the toolbar at the base of the
screen. OR ... there's an unused "Menu" button at the top edge of the
screen. Ubuntu-UMPC recognizes the vol- and vol+ buttons there (and
the UDF button, though I don't know what exactly that does), so why
not fully utilize that Menu button by making it something like a
toggle for the visibility of an application's menu bar?
2) Make the usual menus visible on the pop-up menu from right clicking
the browser pane.
3) Make a System->Preferences app/panel that acts as the
menu/settings/preferences system for Midbrowser.
4) Does Firefox control the same config files as Midbrowser? That
would at least allow you to set configurations and preferences in a
friendly manner.

Bug: I was playing the included freecell, and it killed X. Ubuntu
re-started X in a safe mode (800x600), but it wouldn't let me go back
to the full display. To do that I had to restart the system ... but
it wasn't clear that that would restore the full display.

Speaking of that, screen rotation is broken. It doesn't swap the
mouse axes (axises?) ... so you're left with an awkwardness of trying
to navigate the pointer up/down using left/right movements, etc. And
the touch screen is similarly out of whack. I'd love to see this get
resolved, for some full document type reading.

Are there any camera applications? Either for the webcam on the
front, or the portrait camera on the back?

It'd be nice if the systems administration apps had a front end for
formatting different storage devices (and this is really an "Ubuntu
in general" issue, as I know it happens on the laptop I built just for
evaluating Ubuntu until I could install Ubuntu-UMPC on my Q1UP ... but
it's even more important on the Q1UP, and on other mobile devices, as
it has a built in SD card reader). I know I can format a floppy by
right-clicking on the desktop icon ... but:

1) that doesn't help with SD cards (they don't list the "Format" option)

2) that forces me to put things on the desktop, which I abhor. I
greatly prefer a clean desktop. Goes back to my NeXT days. (is there
a way to make the file browser right-click menu for a storage device
include the format option? and a way to tell the system to not put
devices on the desktop?)

3) I have no idea if there's anything similar for removable USB hard
drives/etc. It would be nice if there was one "Storage Device
Manager" application that was a front end for: format/newfs floppy
drives, format/newfs SD cards, format/newfs hard drives (including
removable USB ones), burning CDs and DVDs (from a .iso, from a .img,
from a .tar or .tgz, from a directory to use as the CD/DVD root,
etc.), and for making .iso and .img files. Maybe also for managing
RAIDs (since it's a "storage manager"). Note: it only needs to be a
front-end, so it could invoke other, more specialized, applications if
they already exist, I'm just saying: you should be able to go to one
place, preferably in the systems administration menu, and get
everything you need for managing your storage devices in that one

I know I saw a recent discussion here about re-mapping the arrow keys.
I'd like to see a preferences panel for that. Make it more friendly
for those of us who want to use them as actual arrow keys. Or perhaps
even just wanting to program them for different cases. (I think I
recall that there's a way to make application specific key mappings as
well, under X11, but I don't recall what it is/was ... but having that
in the preferences panel would be nice too "build a new keymapping,
named Y, to associate with application Z").

Under Maemo there's a way to run shell scripts from the top toolbar
(there's a "system/memory load" status bar widget you can use, and its
pop-up/drop-down menu has a way to add non-interactive shell scripts
so that you can easily run routine scripts). Is there something
similar I can do on Ubuntu-UMPC? For example, on Maemo I had a script
that would use a passwordless ssh key to scp down a bunch of "local"
html files from a central location. This made all of my devices (home
workstation, work workstation, N810, phone) all have the same basic
start up page and group of local reference pages. Without putting
something on my desktop, nor open a terminal window, how can I easily
set up a way to run that script from the Ubuntu-UMPC GUI?

All of that said, there were a TON of things that were straight
forward and "just worked". I'm very happy, overall, with my
Ubuntu-UMPC experience, and it was well worth buying the Q1UP just for
running this platform.

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