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Thoughts on Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition

This isn't intended to be a full-blown review since there are plenty of those out there, but while I was installing Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition on my Asus 1000HE this weekend, I thought I'd jot down my basic thoughts.

Installation

A+++. Absolutely amazing. 25 years later Windows still doesn't even come close to having such a fantastic installation process. Fast, clean, and flawless. Couldn't ask for anything better.


Boot Time
Notably faster than 10.04 on my netbook. My main laptop has a solid state drive and already boots up in about 7 seconds with 10.04, so I can't wait to see if 10.10 makes a difference on that machine.


Ubuntu Font
Ubuntu ships with a new default font called (not surprisingly) Ubuntu. It took some getting used to at first, but I like it! Very readable and easy on the eyes, not to mention Ubuntu-sheik styling.


Unity Interface
I have to give Unity about a C for the time being. The idea of it is awesome, but there are a lot of idiosyncrasies and display issues.

For example, Eclipse flat-out doesn't work because the entire top menu bar in Eclipse doesn't appear. There are also many applications (UltraEdit being one example) on which there are too many menu items across the top for the Unity interface to handle correctly, so they spill over into the notification icons on the right-hand side of the screen. (See screenshots for some examples.)

It's not so bad that I'm going to uninstall 10.10, but I really hope they address the issues soon. If I had to use Eclipse on a regular basis on my netbook I'd simply have to move over to Crunchbang or Easy Peasy, or back to Ubuntu 10.04 which ran Eclipse just fine.

Unity also seems just a bit sluggish on my 1000HE. Not to the point where it's irritating to use, and a VAST improvement over some of the release candidates. I was using RC1 a few weeks ago and the entire machine was horrendously slow, so if you tried an RC and were turned off by the performance, rest assured they fixed that issue for the most part. Seems just a bit more slow than 10.04 when doing certain things, but overall the performance is acceptable.

Software Center

Huge success here. Software Center got a major upgrade both visually and in terms of functionality. I still do most of my installs in a terminal, but Software Center is a real treat to use. Search and categorization is better and when installing a .deb, there's a very nice progress bar and clear notification of when the install is complete. It's a lot more easy to use and clear, particularly for less technical users.

Other Random Thoughts

  • 10.10 is a bit more locked down than 10.04 was in terms of customization. If you like doing a lot of customization to your desktop, menu items, etc. this probably isn't the distro for you. Adding a launcher for programs you install yourself, for example, simply isn't possible from what I've seen because you can't customize the launcher directly, and not all programs support the "Keep in launcher" option when you right-click in the launcher after starting the program from a terminal. This isn't really a criticism per se since if all you want to do is surf the web and read your email 10.10 is fantastic for that, but if you're more of a hacker with your machines, look elsewhere.
  • Ubuntu One got some really nice new features that I haven't had time to dig into just yet. Definitely notice fewer random "your login failed" type issues so they've clearly been focusing a lot of attention here.
  • The Ubuntu One music store is really awesome. I still have to jump over to Amazon.com's MP3 store for some things that Ubuntu One doesn't have, but overall it's really nice and incredibly usable.
  • The social features in 10.10 seem about the same to me as on 10.04, with maybe just a bit more polish. Note that if you rely on using Gwibber for interfacing with Facebook (which I don't), there is a bug that is preventing a lot of people (myself included) from being able to successfully add their Facebook accounts to Gwibber. Facebook *chat* works fine in Empathy, but Gwibber has issues.
Overall this is another great release from Ubuntu. If any of the annoyances I'm outlining here are dealbreakers, just stick with what you have for now. The new features are nice, and I like upgrading every six months to have the latest and greatest, but I'm not sure this is a "must have" upgrade. To be fair the .10 releases aren't really supposed to be "must have" since they don't have long term support (LTS) like the .04 releases, but there's enough here to warrant an upgrade if you're not put off by a couple of glitches here and there.

Will I upgrade my main laptop with Ubuntu 10.10 desktop? Still debating on that one. Short answer is "probably" since I doubt I'll run into the display issues with Eclipse, and my main laptop is in need of a scrubbing anyway. And if I can brag to all my friends that my laptop boots up in 5 seconds instead of 7, all the better.


Comments

translucenteye said…
So after forwarding this to my friend Serge, he pointed me to this blog entry by Mark Shuttleworth that gave some good insight into what they are trying to accomplish with 10.10 and the new UI:http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/383
Matthew Woodward said…
Excellent--thanks. I hadn't seen that blog post. Really great to see more about the thinking behind it.

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