Oct 2, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 - first impressions

Just like half a year ago I will write some first impressions on the soon to be released new Ubuntu. I did already play with it for some time on my Dell netbook. Yesterday I installed Ubuntu 11.10 on my main machine. So far I'm feeling pretty good about it. Looks like a decent improvement over the (not so good) last release.

Here a list of things that catched my attention in this release (I'll post a separate entry on things I didn't like after the release is out as things still may change):
  • I like the Unity UI improvements and general polish a lot. Looks and behaves better everywhere.
  • The rearrangements and changes to the indicators are great.
  • Somehow the UI feels a lot snappier now. This makes Unity much more enjoyable to use.
  • The new login screen looks great. And my machine is really fast in getting there.
  • PulseAudio improvements are awesome! (or what ever causes my Skype sound to work without me having to edit config files)
  • Some of the new config tools are great and I like where this will go in the future. "Online Accounts", "Color", "Wacom Graphics Tablet", ... It feels like a more professional and dedicated work machine.
  • Audio volume changes are accompanied by a subtle sound now. Very Mac like. A great feature to have.
  • As a developer I like to see new, long overdue, versions of development tools and libraries. Newest Mono (!!) as well as the current Eclipse release are all in the repositories. Awesome! Especially Mono has always been a black spot for me on Ubuntu. Now I'm just missing the newest version of Editra, an awesome text editor.
  • My Wacom Tablet, Webcam and Android Phone seem to work as expected. No configuration or modifications needed. I still like that :).
  • The new "share my installed applications with my other machines" thing in the software center is great. Used that already.
  • Skype works out-of-the-box without any config modifications needed. My sound problems are gone. Furthermore, it looks like Skype has a indicator now. This is awesome! (No old, ugly systray icons anymore)
  • Since a few days I run the Desura beta client. Steam like game management on linux. I added my Humble Bundle games to my account. ~20 great Games :). Also they have some free games in there as well. Right now they have 48 solid Linux games in there. The client is very betaisch so you might want to wait a bit before you try it. I hope they manage to fix that in time as it will complement the next LTS release greatly. This would make one hell of an LTS.
  • I think this is the first release where Samba (Windows File Sharing) did work directly after installation. Until now I always had to install additional configuration tools and make it work from there. Now they should just share that "Public" folder by default (or ask if you want to) after installation :). What else it it good for anyway ...
  • Also, I don't seem to have the Flash problems on Youtube anymore. With the last Ubuntu release sometimes Youtube videos won't load correctly (only audio, no UI only black rectangle where Video should be). This didn't happen so far.
In my opinion this is a much better and more usable release than the last one. Ubuntu 11.04 gave me different unexpected problems (random freezes, hangs on shutdown, flash problems) besides the early Unity UI. Most problems seem to be gone so far. Still needs some time to be sure.

I'm confident that the next LTS release (Ubuntu 12.04) will be a awesome Unity release. Another six months of polish and extension of current features will make one great desktop. Looking forward to that ...