At the end of 2010, I decided it was time to buy a new laptop, specifically an Ubuntu laptop, to improve my Unix skills. I picked out a Pangolin laptop from System 76 with Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meekrat” on it.
Moving from the Mac OS X and Windows XP paradigms to the Ubuntu paradigm is a bit jarring so far. My first annoyance has been installing the software I need on my new laptop. Ubuntu provides two GUIs for this, the Ubuntu Software Center and the Synaptic Package Manager. Synaptic is a developer-level GUI slapped onto the apt-get command line tool, and Ubuntu Software Center is clearly the snazzy way Canonical wants you to load new software.
But the stuff in their repositories is old! Sun Java is at 1.6.0_22 (latest is 23), Scala is at 2.7.7 (latest is 2.8.1), Eclipse is at 3.5.2 (latest is 3.6.1), git is at 1.7.1 (latest is 18.104.22.168). This bothers me. I want the latest stuff!
After a lot of searching, I discovered that some projects have accounts on launchpad.net. By adding the correct PPA URLs to the Other Repositories section of Software Sources, you could use both Synaptic and the Ubuntu Software Center to install the latest versions. Success!
Here are the PPA URLs I’ve found useful so far:
- Subversion http://ppa.launchpad.net/svn/ppa/ubuntu maverick main
- Git http://ppa.launchpad.net/git-core/ppa/ubuntu maverick main
- Mercurial http://ppa.launchpad.net/mercurial-ppa/releases/ubuntu maverick main
- OpenJDK http://ppa.launchpad.net/openjdk/ppa/ubuntu maverick main
I don’t know why Scala, Eclipse, Netbeans and Sun Java don’t have Launchpad.net accounts to enable the easy package installation and updating features of Synaptic and USC.
My other bugaboo also applies to the USC. It’s clearly going for the same sort of functionality you find in Apple’s Mac App Store and iOS Store. But what I’m really missing is user feedback. For example, I did a search on GMail Notifiers and found multiple choices. Which one do I want? And I look at the Games section and there are A TON of games that sound cool, but which ones are essential? I don’t want to waste time installing and trying out game after game searching for the ones that are top notch. This should be integrated!