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Old 10-09-2009, 02:07 PM   #1
ordealbyfire83
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Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 beta : An Alternative Review


There are many reviews of the alpha/beta versions of Karmic out there, and they all pretty much say the same things, namely praise for the new themes, icons, and all the other flashy things. But for those who look more at how stable the under-the-hood workings are, I should like to address some of these issues as well. Everything that follows pertains to the amd64 beta version.

The installation process is relatively easier than before. I chose to make my primary partition ext3 (instead of ext4), and configure it as well as a swap partition's sizes manually. Unfortunately the installer is very slow at (re)calculating sizes if you don't enter them just right--I had to tweak the primary partition size a couple of times so as to get >= 2048 MB swap.

After the install completed, the OS wouldn't boot on the first few tries; I had to run fsck manually. I don't know if it's related, but it complained about the last write time being in the future. Once that got resolved, I was able to but successfully each time from then on and haven't had to run fsck since.

The first thing one sees is the new GDM screen. Fedora 9 used it a year ago but Ubuntu kept using gdm-2.20 so some Ubuntu users might be seeing it for the first time. I don't particularly like the new GDM, so I opted to install gdm-2.20 via Synaptic. Ubuntu is definitely to be praised for leaving gdm-2.20 as a supported option; Fedora ditched it a year ago and left us all to suffer.

Configuring network connections that use PPPOE is not possible. The new network-manager doesn't accept a DSL connection ("error editing connections").

Pulseaudio is generally improved although its configuration has changed and (apparently) is poorly documented. For example, those who don't want to use tshed cannot simply edit /etc/pulse/default.pa as the line load-module module-hal-detect is not present. (So are we using time scheduling now or not?) Similarly, in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf default-fragment-size-msec is set to 10, although it clearly isn't! If you play a file in mplayer using -ao pulse, one can clearly see the timer skipping ahead in choppy (non-multiples of 10) intervals. So, while for me pulseaudio appears to work on the surface, what's going on under the surface needs to be better documented and customizable. The Adobe 64-bit flash plugin works seamlessly with pulseaudio.

As far as I can tell, Karmic runs roughly as cool on my laptop as Hardy. Other newer distributions (e.g. Jaunty, Fedora 11) make my laptop fan run nearly continuously. So this is an improvement, or at least, recovering ground lost in regressions since then.

Now for some alternative comments on the flashy stuff. The theme is fine for those who like it, but for those who prefer the old one, it takes a huge amount of customizing to get it back (I had to install the human icon theme from hardy, actually). I believe the developers are streamlining the GNOME experience a bit too much now. Here's why:

- The little application icons at the left of the title bar are gone and replaced by a generic dot (what is this, Wind*ws 3.1?) If you copy the Human theme folder (/usr/share/themes/Human) from an earlier version you can get them back, but really why should we have to do that?

- Icons on pull-down menus are gone. To get them back you have to go in System, Preferences, Appearance, Interface, and check "Show icons in menus." For visual learners in e.g. multilingual environments, no-icon menus are a bit of a pain. Or for anyone who doesn't memorize exactly where all the options are.

- Removal of Shut Down/Log Out/etc. from System menu whenever a user switch applet is present. Explains itself. The developers refuse to explain this one except that it is an intended change. Please just tell us already e.g. what configuration files contain the key to getting this back.

- Integration of IM/email into the desktop environment. Good if you like it. Sucks if you are giving a presentation and don't want your personal business broadcast. I removed all of the indicator applets and installed the fast user switcher from gnome 2.24 (by hand).

A couple of GNOME issues that haven't been fixed since 2.26:
- No icon when SD card inserted. An icon does show on the 'Places' menu. Clicking on that will bring an icon on the desktop.
- Flash drives are not mounted predictably anymore. Instead of e.g. /media/disk for the first, /media/disk-1 for the second, etc. they are apparently assigned random strings. This is bad for those who use flash drives a lot from the command line. (Present in Fedora 11 too.)

The bottom line. While many will indeed see all of the visual changes as a breath of fresh air, the functionality of the end-user experience is beginning to suffer. Although this stems a lot from Gnome upstream, the Ubuntu team could do more to keep a roughly equivalent user experience from one release to the next, or at least document changes completely by explaining exactly what was done and how end-users of all experience levels can make their own alterations.
 
Old 10-10-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
FewClues
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Ubuntu 9.10 Beta install and upgrades

I am unsure of why you experienced the troubles that you did, but they are not at all common. I had virtually no problems installing 9.10 Beta on my Desktop or my laptop. It was a quick and smooth install in every regard.

There was an enormous upgrade that was posted after the release. Its possible that if you did the upgrade you would find that there are many upgrades in 9.10 from 9.04.

Ubuntu One works perfectly now. The background pictures are a refreshing addition - all are sharp as well as unusual. The addition of the Ubuntu Software Center will be a great addition for first time users.

I hope you will join the development meetings (IRC #ubuntu) and offer suggestions before the releases. I'm sure your observations would be welcomed.
 
Old 10-10-2009, 02:26 AM   #3
everest40
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I'm also testing a fresh install of Ubuntu 9.10 on my laptop. Here's my experience. Thank you, by the way, for posting your review; I find reviews which focus on "how stable the under-the-hood workings are" are generally more informative and helpful than those which only focus on the new icons and the fact that Ubuntu's default color scheme is still brown/orange.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
The installation process is relatively easier than before. I chose to make my primary partition ext3 (instead of ext4), and configure it as well as a swap partition's sizes manually. Unfortunately the installer is very slow at (re)calculating sizes if you don't enter them just right--I had to tweak the primary partition size a couple of times so as to get >= 2048 MB swap.
I had no problems here. It even seemed to calculate the partition sizes a little faster than Jaunty's installer used to, though I haven't timed either installer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
After the install completed, the OS wouldn't boot on the first few tries; I had to run fsck manually. I don't know if it's related, but it complained about the last write time being in the future. Once that got resolved, I was able to but successfully each time from then on and haven't had to run fsck since.
My system boots up successfully, though it does flash some text on the screen about not being able to access a usb device (oddly enough, all of the usb devices I've tried work anyway once the system is booted).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
Configuring network connections that use PPPOE is not possible. The new network-manager doesn't accept a DSL connection ("error editing connections").
Not a problem for me, as I use a wifi network and cable internet. Wifi works for me out of the box.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
Pulseaudio is generally improved although its configuration has changed and (apparently) is poorly documented.
I can't comment on this, as I haven't had any reason to change my PulseAudio configuration. It does what I need it to do without any need to mess with config files.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
As far as I can tell, Karmic runs roughly as cool on my laptop as Hardy. Other newer distributions (e.g. Jaunty, Fedora 11) make my laptop fan run nearly continuously. So this is an improvement, or at least, recovering ground lost in regressions since then.
I haven't noticed any temperature difference between my old install of Jaunty and my new install of Karmic. Neither one makes my laptop fan run very often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
- Icons on pull-down menus are gone. To get them back you have to go in System, Preferences, Appearance, Interface, and check "Show icons in menus." For visual learners in e.g. multilingual environments, no-icon menus are a bit of a pain. Or for anyone who doesn't memorize exactly where all the options are.
Some menus, 'Applications' for example, don't seem to be affected by this preference, and they still have their icons. I agree with you that the lack of icons can be an inconvenience for those who can't or don't read what the menu text says.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
- Removal of Shut Down/Log Out/etc. from System menu whenever a user switch applet is present. Explains itself. The developers refuse to explain this one except that it is an intended change. Please just tell us already e.g. what configuration files contain the key to getting this back.
Again I agree, the System menu is in my opinion the logical place to put the shutdown etc. options. As my system will only be used by one person, I just remove the user switch applet, but on a multi-user system it would be nice to know how to re-enable those options without having to remove the applet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ordealbyfire83 View Post
- Flash drives are not mounted predictably anymore. Instead of e.g. /media/disk for the first, /media/disk-1 for the second, etc. they are apparently assigned random strings. This is bad for those who use flash drives a lot from the command line. (Present in Fedora 11 too.)
Is this a GNOME issue? I thought this was a decision on the part of the Ubuntu developers to make flash drives mount more predictably (not less) by ensuring that drives without labels are always mounted on the same mount point using a unique ID number, but perhaps I'm wrong about that. Anyway, I've seen this only with drive partitions that don't have a label assigned. Those that do have a label will use that label as their mount point (i.e. one of my drives is labeled SMALLUSB, and is mounted at /media/SMALLUSB).
 
Old 10-14-2009, 12:13 PM   #4
ordealbyfire83
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The other day I applied 300+ updates hoping that some of these things would be resolved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by everest40 View Post
My system boots up successfully, though it does flash some text on the screen about not being able to access a usb device (oddly enough, all of the usb devices I've tried work anyway once the system is booted).
Perhaps adding vga=792 to the GRUB menu's kernel entry might help. If I don't add this, I get a light gray-white screen filled with flashing euro symbols (or possibly capital E's). This might come from using gdm 2.20. In this case one must explicitly set the vga option in order to see the graphical bootup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by everest40 View Post
Not a problem for me, as I use a wifi network and cable internet. Wifi works for me out of the box.
Not for me. My kill switch (Fn+F2) doesn't work. If I boot without having the kill switch off then wireless is completely inaccessible. Probably a regression out of hal-depreciation. After updating I was able to enter in a PPPOE connection in network manager although it won't connect. This is apparently a regression, as a working network manager (0.7) has been back-ported to Hardy.

As far as Pulseaudio is concerned, it is likely that we are using time scheduling. The only reason I looked into all this is in mplayer it complains about working around broken pause functionality. I first saw this while testing Fedora 10, as soon as they changed to tsched. This is improved in Fedora 11.

Quote:
Originally Posted by everest40 View Post
Some menus, 'Applications' for example, don't seem to be affected by this preference, and they still have their icons. I agree with you that the lack of icons can be an inconvenience for those who can't or don't read what the menu text says.
Not to mention no icons on buttons either. To get those back go in gconf-editor and modify the entry for /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons/desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons Reminds me of hacking the Wind*ws Registry.

Concerning removable media:
- SD cards still don't automount.
- I suppose changing the way flash drives mount has some logic. It has its pro's and con's. In some distro's cd/dvd always mounted in e.g. /media/cdrom. This was predictable but didn't reflect differences between disks. This seemed problematic for me since none of my flashdrives have labels.
 
Old 10-14-2009, 12:38 PM   #5
manwithaplan
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The only issue I have with the new is Ubuntu is.... GRUB 2 and the brown sh*t stain theme... hate it...


The things I like.... Ubiquity, fast install, fast boot... And the updated Intel drivers that work.
 
Old 10-14-2009, 12:58 PM   #6
CT_0000
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Everest 40, I have similar text flash on the screen about not being able to boot a usb device as well, but this is on jaunty. Every usb device I have tried works perfectly so its strange. Txt looks something like:


[16457.412126] btusb_intr_complete: hci0 urb f4551e00 failed to resubmit (1)

[16457.413128] btusb_bulk_complete: hci0 urb f4551800 failed to resubmit (2)

[16457.413135] btusb_bulk_complete: hci0 urb f4551b00 failed to resubmit (1)

I dont know if yours is similar..?
 
Old 10-15-2009, 02:05 PM   #7
everest40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CT_0000 View Post
Everest 40, I have similar text flash on the screen about not being able to boot a usb device as well, but this is on jaunty. Every usb device I have tried works perfectly so its strange. Txt looks something like:


[16457.412126] btusb_intr_complete: hci0 urb f4551e00 failed to resubmit (1)

[16457.413128] btusb_bulk_complete: hci0 urb f4551800 failed to resubmit (2)

[16457.413135] btusb_bulk_complete: hci0 urb f4551b00 failed to resubmit (1)

I dont know if yours is similar..?
I don't think my text said that. I haven't seen it recently anyway; must have been fixed with an update.
 
  


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