Linked by Eugenia Loli on Thu 6th May 2010 21:05 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu The recently released 10.04 version of Ubuntu is the third Long Term Support (LTS) version Canonical has released. I installed this new version on four of my laptops (2 netbooks, 1 normal laptop, 1 portable desktop replacement), and here's my impression of it.
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Very mixed results
by vodoomoth on Sun 9th May 2010 16:23 UTC
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As I said in earlier posts, I intended to use this release on an old Acer laptop with this config: XP Home edition SP1, Mobile Athlon 796Mhz, 512MB RAM, brand new Samsung HM160HC 160GB. The drive is partitioned as suggested by lemur2: Windows system, win swap, hidden win clone, linux, linux swap and all-OS data (15, 2, 15, 15, 2, 100 GB).
I'm bringing this old computer back to life for serving torrents, test some software development tools, maybe do some occasional web browsing and archiving.

Both Ubuntu 10.04 and XP **SP3** are up and running.

- VERY pleasant surprise: two-finger scrolling is activated on the touchpad. I did not even think that old laptop would support it.
- Another VERY pleasant surprise: the builtin RTL8180 Wifi card connected to my network which uses WPA2 with AES encryption. After discovering that, I tried the same under XP but never found the right driver even for WPA/TKIP: it just can't connect. I didn't find anyone who succeeded in using WPA on Windows with that card.
- The sound works without any tweaking. GOOD.
- Deactivating the touchpad while using the keyboard is a great feature.
- Touchpad acceleration is not an acceleration, it's a speed: no matter how fast your finger moves, the touchpad distance always yields the same screen distance. BAD.
- There's no way to set the timeout on the multi-boot screen. OK, I won't die because of that.
- The multi-boot sets Ubuntu as default. OK, why not. But there's NO way for a lay user to say "I want my original OS to be the default option". What are those choices? I had to **very reluctantly** change some 40_custom file in etc/grub.d... after searching the web and realizing that the "menu.lst" people wrote about doesn't exist anymore. The syntax seems to have changed and now the "other os" options are given by a script! I had to copy the "Windows XP Edition Familiale (on dev/sda1)" entry from a file (grub.cfg) which is itself a generated file, duplicate the entry, rename it to "WindowsXP" and put the name as the value for "default". How is my mother going to do that?
- Do Linux users usually need such a large font? I realized the desktop env was probably Gnome, which I've never liked.
- I went into the "Logithèque" (application store?), searching for KDE. Dind't find it. Seems like I'll need to download, burn and install KUbuntu, which would be a joke, right? If confirmed, the only reason I wouldn't kick Linux out of the disk is grub having taken control of the boot: I don't want to reinstall XP and all updates. I remember my student years when the Linux installs at the university offered the choice of the desktop environment from the login screen. What happened to that?
- Slower to boot than the original XP SP1. XP SP3 took 45s with the following apps launched at startup: Avira Antivir, ClipDiary, RocketDock (with 15 icons) and Oxygenator (a very well-thought 1999 memory usage indicator) and the RT73 USB connected to my wireless network. Ubuntu: 32s to show the desktop. That's just BAD. And I did not even disable the Windows services that are useless to me or the bloated software package that PC manufacturers feel compelled to add. I shouldn't complain since Vista takes 3 minutes without reaching the same readiness.

Summary: awesome detection of hardware and associated capabilities: no driver issues at all, everything worked with ZERO tweaking. Ultimate configuration options for the touchpad. Excellent disk management utility which is in sharp contrast with the overall UI experience. BUT Not user-friendly at all (reminiscent of my first encounter with Linux in 1995 or 1996):
1- As long as using Linux means "having to mess with config files and scripts", I don't think it's usable. I'm a software engineer and I hate having to do that. My mom is a secretary and her computing world is probably limited to Office, IE and Yahoo Messenger/MSN/Skype. How is she ever going to understand that? It being free doesn't mean all.
2- the ability to change all options should be given and easily accessed. The level of configuration offered by Mac OS X is just despicable, no matter how great an OS it is. Windows is not much better at least up to Vista, never used 7. I don't use Linux and probably won't in the next months, but I do wish the Linux community never ever falls in that same state of mind.

Rant: Mac OS X is for my 6-year old nephew, Windows is for my sister and Linux is still for the geek, knowing geek > (me+much much good will). But all of them are disappointing when it comes to speed. With all the power in today's laptops, high-clock speeds, multi-core architectures, abysmal-deep pipelines, why can't OSes be just fast? With all the developers, why can't we be granted a better control over configuration/options? I regretted being forced to use Vista on a new laptop, I regretted upgrading from 10.5 to Snow Leopard on my work laptop and Ubuntu 10.04 doesn't display the hyped speed. What' wrong with the OSes wrt speed? Maybe Thom or Kroc can make that the topic of a future article?
Just for the anecdote, when I bought the Acer laptop in 2003, I had a 1999 133Mhz Olivetti running W95. I remember making the experiment of starting both laptops at the same moment, the Olivetti booted faster than the Acer running XP. Office 95 launched faster than Office 2003 on the Acer. I wouldn't go back using it but anyway, too bad the AC adapter went dead.

I'm waiting for a real revolution in reactivity of systems today, including mobile ones. When hearing that a Palm Pre takes a ludicrous 100+ seconds before booting, I start thinking that the revolution may not happen in my lifetime (unless a quantic computer comes to life, but I'm pretty sure hardware makers and developers will find a way to screw it up). My 6110 Navigator takes 20 seconds including the Nokia animation and the carrier's animation, and I can start dialing a number right away but it still seems too long. More than my Amstrad CPC 6128 in its time.

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