"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Test drive: Ubuntu 10.10 Live on the EEEPC 900


The long awaited Ubuntu “Upgrade Sunday” has finally arrived, I decided so to download the netbook edition and test it, in live mode, booting from a SD card. After the deluding results of the beta version test I was really eager to see how the final release was. 

Boot from SD card

I prepared a bootable SD card, as usual, with the utility provided by Ubuntu itself and restarted the EEEPC and let it boot from the SD card. The boot process has been quite long, about five minutes, with the usual mid-boot stop to ask for install or live boot. Of course this boot time is not an absolute value since it depends from the SD card speed and, probably, from the live boot choice but is still considerably longer than how much the previous (10.04) version took to start.


First impressions

Once the boot completed Ubuntu presented its new netbook user interface.

ubuntu-netbook-10-10-1

While testing the beta version I expressed some concern about the user interface stability since I experienced many errors. Now it seems that all stability issues has been solved: during all the time I tested Ubuntu I didn't see a single error message.
Among the various changes has been improved the Ubuntu Software Center:

ubuntu-netbook-10-10-2

I also particularly appreciated the desktop selection button (the web-cam was really working while I took the screen-shot)

ubuntu-netbook-10-10-4

I rarely use different desktops but an handy way to switch among them like this could make me change my mind.

What I didn't like

Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook edition works fine and has some nice improvements with it but there are things, in this new user interface, that still I don't like and, in my opinion, make it less productive than previous netbook version.
The application manager is quite slow to start and it ever shows, at beginning, all installed applications. You can, of course, filter applications or search them but, once you started the application you were looking for, next time you open it you're again shown all applications. You can directly access subsections by right-clicking on the applications manager menu but having it remember your last selection would, in my opinion, more productive.

ubuntu-netbook-10-10-3

The file browser button brings you in a page that lets you browse your preferred folders. You can only browse or open selected file.

ubuntu-netbook-10-10-5

If you are willing to do any other operation or to access other files you must open Nautilus by clicking on the small folder icon in the upper right corner.

ubuntu-netbook-10-10-6

It's a bit of a paradox but, at the moment, the handier way to access a real file manager is to click on the trash-can icon.

Conclusions

A netbook is a computer with smaller screen and keyboard not an oversized cellphone. When I removed the original Xandros Linux (with its “easy mode”) to install EEEBuntu what I really appreciated was having a full system with a different interface instead of a limited one. Now this new version of Ubuntu make me feel like going back one step. I'm not going to upgrade yet, not unless I figured out how to keep my good old user interface in the process.