I must have done something bad the first time I installed Ubuntu 12.04. Coming from the last Long-Term Support release, I decided to do a direct upgraded from 10.04 to 12.04, instead of doing a clean install. There must have been some stuff left from the 10.04 install that the 12.04 installation process did not purge or whatever; and that might have been the cause for the instability that I have been experiencing with Alexandria over the last couple of weeks.
This weekend, I decided to do a clean install— reformatting Alexandria's root partition. What follows are the steps that I've taken to arrive at this seemingly more stable system.
Adding Personal Package Archives (PPAs)
The first step I've taken is adding what I consider to be important PPAs: tualatrix/ppa for getting Ubuntu Tweak, otto-kesselgulasch/gimp for getting the latest GIMP stable releases, and bearoso/ppa for getting Snes9x-GTK (LOL, I want my brainless fun!).
Before doing anything after getting my network connections working, I installed Ubuntu Tweak so I can change the Unity panel's and system font sizes. That's because I don't want to work on Alexandria until I see something that I'm comfortable with— and really, the look of the desktop is one of the first things that I alter.
Application Removals and Replacements
Just before I did the initial upgrade, I wanted to remove some stuff that I won't be using any way. These applications are: Empathy, Gwibber, and Gnome Games. To remove those, it was a simple case of:
$ sudo apt-get remove empathy gwibber gwibber-* gnome-games-data aisleriot*
I replaced Empathy with, of course, the ever-reliable Pidgin. Nothing against Empathy, it's just that Pidgin gives me a more familiar Yahoo and IRC chat client interface— I've been using Pidgin since it came out several years ago.
Gwibber, on the other hand, is just not something that I want to use. I could have probably left it installed even if I won't use it anyway (like most applications that come in the LibreOffice suite), but I really don't want it.
First things to get installed are my graphics applications: The GIMP, Inkscape, Agave, and Phatch. I don't install Blender 3D from the repositories any more as I've developed the habit of downloading the latest releases directly from the Blender website.
Next to go in is Oracle's VirtualBox. Since the middle of last year, I have not been using Ubuntu's native LAMP install. I've discovered that developing websites on a virtual environment that is configured to mimic the production server is saner than developing in a different environment, then making adjustments to compensate for the difference between the development and production servers. Besides, having my work on VDIs makes it more portable, and easier to backup and to restore.
I've also installed Git because I need a version control application for SaWALi, which I have hosted on SourceForge. I also plan to use it when (more like “if”) I start working on Quinarayan again.
Unity or Cinnamon
As I've said earlier, what prompted me to do a clean install is some instability that I've experienced on Alexandria recently. However, before I decided to do this, I also tried installing Cinnamon as a replacement desktop environment. I'm still looking at it as a strong alternative if Unity conks-out on me again— and I sincerely hope that it doesn't.
I like 12.04's new desktop environment. I think that if I'm correct in assuming that Alexandria's recent freezes was caused by some wayward configuration that was held over from the 10.04 install, I'll really get the hang of using Unity + Dash and I won't trade it for anything else.
However, I got the hang of using Cinnamon faster— having used it for only two or three days. I guess that's because Cinnamon looks more like the old Gnome desktop, which I have been using for years. Yet, Cinnamon also provides a similar search feature in Dash, that I like very much.