Monday, 2 November 2009

Ubuntu 9.10: First Impressions

My first impression of Ubuntu 9.10? A whole lot of people are interested. My first few attempts to download the ISO file resulted in a corrupted ISO. After waiting a few days for the traffic to calm down, I downloaded new ISOs and they work fine.

So far I've only just finished the initial installation on my Dell M1330n laptop. Since I want to take advantage of the new ext4 file system this is a clean install. To get all my applications installed and running I've created a script based on this How To from Ubuntu Forums. Personally I feel strong command line scripting is one of the greatest strengths of Linux. It just makes migrating to a new system so easy.

My laptop is equiped with an SSD. Which is why ext4 is so important to me. So far as I can work out ext4 has supposedly been optimised to work better with SSDs. Boot times are fast. Although I'm not sure if they are a massive improvement on 9.04 which was already very fast at boot time on my laptop.

Speaking of impressive boot-ups! The little animation that appears where the grub menu would normally appear is awesome. If that is the effect using Grub2 has on the overall polish to the OS then Canonical and the Ubuntu devs made an excellent choice here. It makes the OS feel like some sat down and made an effort to polish the final product rather than just make it work.

The new login screen is pretty cool. It functions very smoothly indeed. It was also a bit of a surprise. I can't remember anybody mentioning anything like that would be there. The new functionality (that I've seen so far) is purely cosmetic. However good looking OS that operates smoothly does make using PCs less stressful and irritating. It's reasuring to know that Canonical and the rest if the Ubuntu development team understands little tweaks can make a huge difference to the user experience. The fade to the desktop is very cool. Windows 7 does the same sort of thing. But over all I think Ubuntu does it better with the initial animated logo at the very start, through the updated boot screen to the very smooth new log-in screen, to the desktop. The whole thing just feels more polished than Windows 7.

The wider selection of desktop backgrounds and themes is also a welcome addition. Although I do get the feeling some of the wallpapers were grabbed off the web at random at the last minute. For some reason they just don't seem to fit with the prodominantly dark brown earthy window themes. Just five more minutes of effort could have avoided that. But it's easily fixed.

A big dissapointment was the restricted drivers manager. For some reason it just doesn't seem to work. I had to install my Nvidia drivers from Synaptic manually. Something for Canonical to work on for 10.04.

My next task is to migrate all of my personal data back to my laptop. Which won't be too hard as I don't keep much on the laptop anyway.

Update 03-11-2009: Added link to Ubuntu Forums. Forgot to do that. DOH! http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=766683

Update 04-11-2009: Some videos to make life more interesting.