Did you upgrade to Ubuntu 11.04 aka Natty Narwhal? I did, and for the first time since using Ubuntu (I’ve been loyal since 6.10), I’m very disappointed. There are some major issues with this upgrade. What we’ve come to expect from Canonical is a solid operating system, and most importantly, smooth upgrades. In fact, the last few times I wrote about upgrading Ubuntu, I almost had nothing to say because the upgrades were so smooth, they could have been unattended upgrades.
So let’s get down to it.
1. Crashing at first boot (external monitor support): This is open to interpretation. I’m using an external monitor with my Dell Inspiron 1564 and Ubuntu 11.04 didn’t exactly crash. The problem is that there’s a major bug when using an external monitor with Ubuntu 11.04 on various laptop makes and models. So after first boot, both monitors went black. After I unplugged the external monitor, I saw the Unity interface (more on Unity later). I logged out of Unity and into Gnome. When I attached the external (analog) monitor, the image resolution was completely corrupted and unusable. This is a problem with the VGA driver. Read about the bug here.
Note: My display was fine when I connected it to my Samsung via the HDMI port.
2. Unity: Fine, using Unity instead of Gnome 3 might take some getting used to, but could the menu bar have some options? It would be really nice to have some control over its orientation, and at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any. Isn’t Linux about having control? Freedom? Remember that word?
Unity looks like it’s trying to be an iPhone. Or an iPad. Or like it has a hard-on for Apple. It refers to “Apps”, which are just its regular programs and this just makes it sound like it’s trying to be something it’s not. Basically, Unity makes me feel the way I felt about Amarok when Amarok 2.0 was released, and it wasn’t a positive experience,
3. Flash: After logging into Gnome, I tried browsing and watching videos. You Tube was a mess with videos playing, but with the control buttons flashing and intermittent flickering. Very nice. I ended up fixing that issue by installing Flash Aid which is a Firefox plugin that figures out which version of Flash you need. My question: Why couldn’t the people behind Ubuntu do that?
4. Firefox 4: I haven’t tested Firefox 4 on any other system besides my unstable Natty Narwhal, so you can call me biased, but Firefox 4 has been crashing like Firefox 2 did awhile back. Are we back to the memory leaks from 4 years ago? I’ve been blaming Ubuntu 11.04 and its 2.6.38-8 kernel. Flash is also very choppy on Firefox 4, where flash is fine on Chrome. The test: try playing some Facebook game like Mafia Wars (check the property pages) on Firefox 4 and then try playing it on Chrome.
5. Everything Else: Ok, not everything is bad. When things work, they’re snappy and quick. Even Firefox seems to be as fast as Chrome normally is. I do think that there’s potential here, just that Natty appears to have been rushed for release, and that’s never a good thing. They compromised stability in favor of bling that’s less than impressive. Just give us an OS that works. Remember what happened with KDE 4.0? DO YOU?
1 Amazing thing that actually DOES work: ssh freezing problem: Yep. ssh no longer freezes when authenticating via wireless to my LAN or any external network. The freezing ssh session issue was an annoying bug last year (which I thought was the fault of my crap D-Link DIR-615), but it now works and my wireless ssh sessions are stable. Bonus.
Pro Tip: Touchpad Control: Did you install Natty narwhal on a laptop and found that you lost control of your touchpad? Yeah, me too. Fix it like this:
gconftool-2 –set –type boolean /desktop/gnome/peripherals/touchpad/touchpad_enabled true
By the way, what’s the deal with Byobu? Is it necessary? I’ll be trying out this enhanced terminal soon.