Well, the reason I was upgrading was that Ubuntu (and all Linuxes, in fact) do a kind of rolling release schedule, where the Upgrade Manager (or similarly-named program) polls the sources for all the software you have installed. If any change it makes a note of what's changed and what things it depends on. Then it periodically announces that you have upgrades waiting (I set that to weekly).
Pretty much always it goes off without a hitch, and you just keep working while it's doing its thing. A couple of weeks ago, however, it downloaded and installed new software to control my (NVIDIA) graphics card. That would have been fine, except that there has to be a corresponding alteration in the software that uses it - the kernel software. Unfortunately that didn't happen, so when I rebooted next I didn't get any GUI. All the programs were there - they just didn't show anything!
So after a couple of days I decided that as I was only at version 12.04, which was about 18 months old, I could surely migrate forwards and hopefully things would get better. Unfortunately not. So I bought a new hard drive ($70 for 500 GB), pulled the main drive of my laptop and plugged in the new one, put a bootable DVD in the drive with Linux Mint 14 on it, booted and installed.
At this stage I had no idea whether I would get a usable system - all I knew was that the image I saw from the live (bootable) CD was rendered by something called "Gallium 0.4 on NVCF". It turns out that this is the front of a driver software from a group called nouveau, and that it works very well indeed!
So, for non-standard software, I run the following:
- Oracle VirtualBox - Provides me a virtual computer within which I can launch something else. Mainly this is Windows, as my email runs in Windows and I work with MS SQL Server, so my work is there too.
- dvgrab - A command-line program that records video from the IEEE port. Right now I'm recording a copy of an old Jay Leno program so my wife can watch it - she's with some friends who live "BC" - "Beyond Cable"! They're "BC" - "Beyond Cell" too!!
- K3B - A program to burn CDs, DVDs, and BluRay discs.
- Quod Libet - This is a small audio player.
- Chrome browser.
- xSane - A program to work the scanner part of my hp psc 2410 MFP.
- RipperX - This rips CDs. That's it. Sooo convenient!
- UltraEdit - The best text editor, hands down!
- Geany - Programmer's IDE.
I'll probably get FireBird (i.e. InterBase) running eventually.