Wibbly Stuff

Ubuntu 11.10 Released - New Features, Review & Tips

So, Ubuntu 11.10 released two days ago. I decided to get my hands on it, downloaded and installed alongside my Windows 7 and Fedora 16 (Beta) installation. Then I installed the multimedia codecs and some necessary packages. Then I started to explore.

First, let's take a look at the new features,

  • Unity Changes - The Dash is now opened by a launcher icon. The colour of the Dash is also derived from your desktop wallpaper. Places have been renamed to Lenses and sport many changes including faster loading times, improved results, new filtering options, and addition of new lenses such as a new ‘Music Lens’.
  • Looks - The default Ubuntu themes look better than before. ‘LightDM’ is the default login manager in Ubuntu 11.10. Me menu has been removed and the indicators have undergone many changes.
  • Default Apps - Firefox 7, LibreOffice suite, Mozilla Thunderbird, Shotwell , Gwibber. Deja Dup, Banshee music player, Totem movie player, Tomboy notes, new revamped Ubuntu Software Center 5.0, six games and more.
  • Installer Changes - The Ubuntu Installer now has a ‘Wifi’ connection step (if applicable) and the option to take a user account photo via your webcam.
  • Multi-arch Support - Ubuntu 11.10 allows 64bit Ubuntu users to install 32bit applications and utilities on their systems with easily.
  • One Conf - OneConf is a new Software Centre feature that helps you keep a list of installed applications in sync across multiple computers. To activate it, open the Ubuntu Software Centre (icon on the Dash) and head to “File > Sync between computers…“.
  • Downsides - Boot time has slightly increased from Ubuntu 11.04, Battery drain due to a the new Kernel

I must say, Ubuntu devs have done a great job. The Unity desktop feels very solid and beautiful with the default theme. The compiz animations are very well thought too. The overal desktop seems nice. But hey, looking nice is not everything. Performance and stability play a major role. So does it pass here?

Even if the desktop was pretty stable, I faced some issues though. First, Banshee was facing force closes many times. Also the volume up in banshee didn't work. I had to disable the soundmenu extension and re-enable it to get it to work. Then I decided to try the unity-2d interface. I logged out and logged back into unity-2d. After few minutes, when I tried to logout, it seemed like taking forever. I had to forcibly shutdown and again log into unity-2d. Faced the same issue again. Then I fed up with Unity (certainly I'm not a unity fan) and decided to install Gnome Shell.

Installed Gnome Shell with few extensions. And now I began trying stuffs. I was very disappointed that though I didn't face any major issues here, Nautilus was crashing a lot. Didn't face more problems though.

I'll stick to using Ubuntu, hoping that future updates will fix the issues. But I think there is something wrong in the release schedule. I believe it should be released when it is ready, not when it is planned to even if it is not ready. Ubuntu needs more thorough testing, even though it is pretty more stable than previous Unity.

Here are some links you may find useful (especially the webupd8 link),