Monday, September 19, 2011

A First Look at Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 1

o·nei·ric :   [oh-nahy-rik] adjective: of or pertaining to dreams.
oc·e·lot :   [os-uh-lot, noun: a spotted leopardlike cat 

Ubuntu 11.10 desktop
Canonical recently released the first beta of Ubuntu 11.10, Code named Oneiric Ocelot. Ubuntu has ditched Gnome Shell completely and stepped up its committment to the Unity Desktop. As the final release approaches, just one month from today, we spin up this beta and take a first look at the distro that Mark Shuttleworh called, "part daydream, part discipline." 
The Oneiric Ocelot

In his blog, "Here be Dragons", Mark Shuttleworth explains the meaning of this releases codename:
"Oneiric means “dreamy”, and the combination with Ocelot reminds me of the way innovation happens: part daydream, part discipline."
Canonical released the first Beta of Ubuntu 11.10, code named Oneiric Ocelot on September 2.
Unity is the default desktop, the classic Gnome Shell is not included in this release. Oneiric will use Unity 2D as the fall back mode.
The DVD has been slimmed down to 1.5 GB and includes language packs and popular applications including Inkscape, GIMP, Pitivi and a more comprehensive LibreOffice Suite.
The CD image is still available and all the DVD included applications are available through the repositories.

New software additions:
  • Thunderbird: New default email client
  • Déjà Dup: New backup tool, easily uploads backups to UbuntuOne.
  • Gwibber: Chat client, with new interface. Integrates easily with Facebook and Twitter.
Other changes in Oneric:
  • Gnome: Now uses the unstable 3.1.5 version. Eventually moving to 3.2
  • LightDM: New Display Manager which replaces GDM. LightDM is simpler to maintain, faster, more flexible and can be shared with Kubuntu and Xubuntu, each with a customized greeter.
  • Software Center
    Software Center: New interface with "Top Rated" views in all catagories and subcatagories, edit and delete your own reviews, and speedier installation of standalone .deb files (with gdebi). The new software center is easier to use and lists all available software, even packages which aren't in your current repositories, offering to add the repository if needed.
  • The kernel is based on v3.0.3 which boasts mulitple improvements, including more Atheros, Ralink, and iwlagn NIC drivers.
  • Ubuntu Core: A new minimal root file system for creating specialized images and an aid for developer projects.
  • GNU toolchain: Now based on GCC 4.6 for i386, AMD64 and ARM OMAP3/OMAP4 architectures.

I downloaded the torrent for the i386 DVD and used UNetbootin to set up a live flash drive to test this release.
Booting seemed slow, but sound, video and wireless all worked out of the box*. It still amazes me how far the Linux community has come toward making hardware detection and configuration virtually painless in most new installs.
Unity feels faster and more polished. The launcher is docked on the left side of the desktop. It lists icons for:
  • Dashboard
    Dash home (Dashboard)
  • Install Ubuntu 11.10
  • Home Folder
  • Firefox
  • LibreOffice Writer
  • LibreOffice Calc
  • LibreOffice Impress
  • Ubuntu Software Center
  • Ubuntu One
  • Workspace Switcher
  • Trash

Additional icons are added for open programs and files and these are added to the bottom of the launcher in a 'stack'. This keeps icons for open projects in your view no matter how many you are working on.
Adding or Removing icons from your launcher is as simple as a right click to select or de-select 'Keep in Launcher'.

Clicking on the Dashboard icon, brings up a window with shortcuts to Media Apps, Internet Apps, More Apps and Find Files. Below is another row of icons for Firefox, View Photos, Check EMail and Listen to Music.
This window needs considerable work as the only shortcut that worked was the Firefox icon. The layout did not size correctly for my screen and the last items in the rows were truncated.
'Stripes' Wallpaper
The default wallpaper is the same as in Natty, but according to this post, the new default wallpaper will be blue 'Stripes', (see image above) same as the default in Gnome 3. 'Stripes' was not included with this beta.
The top panel shows icons for network manager (animated as it connects), broadcast menu, power level (which stubbornly stuck at .37% power), clock (which I had to set manually, even after selecting my time zone) and a chat client with an odd [Invalid UTF-8] message (a known bug).

The last icon is a combination of power and settings. The menu includes System Settings, Display, Startup Applications, Updates Available, Attached Devices, Printers, Webcam and the Lock Screen/Log Out/Suspend/Shut Down options.
Appearance Settings
The Appearance window is simplified. Gone are options for customizing your theme. No more tweaking colors, controls, window borders, icons or pointers. Select a basic theme from a drop down menu.
Firefox Beta 7 is included in this release and I found it buggy with Adobe Flash 10. The Software Center crashed while trying to install Flash and even after a successful install, it repeatedly crashed Firefox when trying to load a video.
Some fonts don't render properly in some programs. This may be an upstream problem because I saw a similar bug after a recent Debian update.
Overall, this release is significantly buggier than previous Ubuntu betas I have tested. With Gnome Shell no longer included, Canonical has demonstrated its commitment to Unity on the desktop. The final beta is due to be released on September 22 and the Official Release date is scheduled for October 13.
According to Mark Shuttleworth, Oneiric Ocelot is built on daydreams and discipline and with this upcoming release, Canonical continues to lead the way into the future of Linux desktop innovation
For more information on Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 1, visit the Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot Wiki.
Hardware specs:
  • Asus eeepc 900
  • 16 + 4 GB SSD
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 900 MHz Celeron Processor
  • Atheros AR5001 wireless adapter
  • Intel 915GM Graphics Controller
This article was originally published Sept 14, 2011 in  

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