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Regret of the week – Upgrading to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

April 27, 2008

Okay I’ll be the black sheep and give Hardy Heron a thumbs down in the face of millions who gave it a thumbs up.

I have been happy a user of Ubuntu 7.10 for months. Along came 8.04 and like millions of folks out there I eagerly upgraded. It ran beautifully, except….

It screwed up my Firefox 2.0 or more precisely, it force-installed Firefox 3 Beta without asking me if I wanted it. FF3 is not compatible with the 10-odd add-ons my internet life depended upon. Not only that. While I could still launch FF2, I found that all the add-ons were disabled and could not be re-installed. If gives me an error if I tried.

Ok fine, I unstalled Firefox 3.0 and tried reinstalling the add-ons in FF2. It still gave me the same error – unable to install add-ons. Damn. I uninstalled FF2, re-installed it and tried adding the extensions again. I still got the same error. That’s it, I am officially mad.

Ok, I know there are ways around this – like deleting some persistent directories and doing a manual FF2 install from scratch. I haven’t gotten around to it but my point is, this sort of problem is inexcusable for an OS that aspires to pass the grandma test.

Like many people, I interact with the internet almost entirely through my browser and I can’t live without my 10 Firefox add-ons. By force-installing Firefox 3 which don’t work with my extensions and disabling the version that does, why should I upgrade to 8.04.

I know techies would say but there’s nothing wrong with the OS. Its Firefox 3, a third party application that’s causing the problem. Yes you’d be right but common users (which Ubuntu developers want to appeal to) can’t tell the difference. The least you can do is provide them with an informed choice – what they stand to lose by upgrading to a newer version. Its human experience that make products great even if the technology sucks.

And oh by the way, Transmission, the much ballyhooed torrent client that came bundled with 8.04, sucks too. The fastest download speed it gave me on Streamyx was a mind-boggling 0.6Kbps to 4Kbps. I switched to my usual torrent client and got back my 40-60Kbps for the same torrent seed. Yes, Transmission is 10-20 times slower.

Conclusion: If you can’t live without your favorite Firefox 2 add-ons, forget about upgrading to 8.04. Unless you want to go through the painful manual uninstall-install process I went through.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 30, 2008 12:50 pm

    There’s a simpler way round this. Go to about:config.

    Create a boolean key called extensions.checkCompatibility (if it doesn’t already exist) and set it to false. Restart your browser and you will now be able to run all those extensions.

    Of course, it’s possible that the extensions won’t work 100% if they haven’t been tested with Firefox 3, but I found that mine were all fine.

  2. Damien permalink*
    May 1, 2008 12:43 am

    Thanks Pete. I’ll give it a shot and if your method works, I owe you a big one. 🙂

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