Apr 15, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 - first impressions

Yesterday evening I put the new Ubuntu 11.04 Beta 2 onto my main machine. Took me about an hour to get all important things back onto the system. I'm switching my main machine surprisingly late this cycle. Mostly because I'm concerned with the new Unity UI. It's new and so I don't expect it to be anything great. I think of it more as a step into the right direction. So as my main machine needs to work I decided to wait a bit longer for the switch. My netbook is running it since Alpha 2 and I usually switch my main machine at alpha 3 or the first beta. But on to my fist impressions:
  • Installation was very smooth and really very very fast. It didn't even take me an hour to get all important software back onto the system. (I usually do a clean install, just keep the home partition)
  • My ATI/AMD graphics (Radeon HD 5800 Series) card does work out-of-the-box now. So it works with the open source drivers. This has a few advantages because these support kernel mode settings. The proprietary drivers offer better 3D performance but lack in other areas. I stay with the open source ones as long as I don't have any performance issues with them. 
  • It detects now my Android handset without me needing to add a rule. I connect it and it shows up as a Android device in the developement SDK. That is great :)
  • My tablet (Wacom Bamboo Fun Pen & Touch) works now out-of-the-box. No need to compile and install the drivers myself. Also the touch part works much better now. It always has been a bit lagy and not really usable to me. Now its fast and snappy just like any other touchpad. 
  • My webcam (Logitech HD Pro Webcam C910) does work event better now. It has a much higher framerate on full HD (1920x1080) video capture (~24fps). Before it has been too slow to really be of any use.
  • The new Skype (2.2.0.25) seems to have sound problems here. Didn't try a call but all the other sounds are very noisy and not at all like they should be. As the other audio apps work just fine I guess it's a problem with the new Skype. (UPDATE: I found a simple FIX)
  • I did change a few unity things to what I like more. I set window dodging for focus switching and activated the Shift Switcher instead of the Static Application Switcher in compiz. I also reduced the size of the launcher a bit to 42 pixel. Furthermore, I did reduce the 4 virtual desktops to just two which is enough for my taste. As most users I use them only rarely anyway.
  • I think I like the basics of Unity. There are still a lot of special case problems. As well as integration of a lot of apps is missing. I guess the next version will bring a lot more app integration with it. I almost can't wait for the next LTS release. I can imagine that Unity will be a great desktop shell by the time the next LTS arrives. All those smaller problems should hopefully be solved by then.
I am very satisfied with the working hardware part. My system is now fully working on Ubuntu without any need to install a driver. I was surprised by that and I like it a lot. Now I just need to get used to the new Unity ways of doing things. As I did use Docky for years now it shouldn't be too much effort for me :) ..