Ubuntu 11.04 - Mini Review

Ok, having now used it ‘in anger’, I still like it, despite the fact it’s “very” different and despite the many negative reviews. Here’s a brief run-down;

The Good

  • Lots of new / better versions of everything
  • I’m finding I prefer the new Unity desktop
  • Problems with muti-screen setups have been fixed - I can now use Compiz!
  • The virtual desktop pager is streets ahead of the old version
  • I’ve been running Skype all afternoon with Video - flawless!

The Bad

  • You can’t stick shortcuts on the Panel any more
  • You can’t use taskbar applets any more, so all applet functionality is gone
  • Menu layouts have all changed, there is a new learning curve for Gnome users
  • The launcher just isn’t big enough for all my commonly used applications
  • Compiz (or something) is leaking into X, up to 5G RAM over 4 days

The Mitigation

  • Some “new” tasklets have started to appear to replace missing functionality (albeit they are buggy)
  • Menu searching is actually very good/quick, maybe even better than knowing where the option is
  • The launcher overflow works, albeit a little ‘busy’

This is still a pre-release version so there’s stuff to be fixed, but all in all this looks like being the year of the desktop and the first really major departure from the norm for Ubuntu. Whereas 10.10 could be compared to Windows 7 in terms of ease of operation and features, I think 11.04 can be compared to a Mac and Windows is left somewhere in the rear view mirror … or at least it will when the glitches are ironed out and the release version becomes available.

How good is the preview version? For use on a hacker / programmer / hobbyist’s machine - sure. For a non-technical family member, probably not just yet …
(for use by anyone using KVM/virt-manager, upgrade “now” !!)

Still gonna give it a few months.