"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)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Test Drive: Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” Beta on the Sempron 2400

Since I heard that the new Ubuntu release would be based only on Gnome3 and Unity (the older release was a plain Gnome 2 version on “non-3D-capable” computers) I wondered how it would perform on older computers. So the second step of my “Test Drive”s has been to test Ubuntu 11.10 on my “still-alive” five years old Sempron 2400.

Boot _ errors _ and boot again

Ubuntu 11.10 beta is definitively a buggy beta, I already realized this while testing on the EEEPC but on the Sempron 2400 it looks even more buggy. I had to restart the boot process three times before arriving to Unity 2D main screen.
apart from these boot errors and some error message now and then, that also appeared on the EEEPC, the system did run smoothly enough.

The application browser

On the Sempron 2400 I eventually managed to get a full view of Unity's application browser and launcher. On the EEEPC it had non working buttons and problems to resize at netbook's resolution (1024 by 600). Here is how the application launcher appear at 1024 by 768 resolution.
The application browser now works also as a integrated media and file search and browse application. A list of categories filters buttons can be enabled on the right side of the screen:
while the small icons on the bottom switch between application, media and file search.
The thing begins to be more usable but still I wonder why the categories buttons are hidden by default and why wasting space to show not yet installed applications, isn't the software centre meant to do this?

Conclusions

The good news is that Ubuntu still thinks to older computers, the Unity – Unity 2D pair seem to work well. The big problem of Unity is its lack of flexibility: If you don't like, like me, the way to search for applications or, more simply, the button dock position there is nothing you can do. As a comparison you can think how much more flexibility give you simple dock launchers programs like Awn Or Docky. Will we ever have a set of themes and plug-ins for Unity's desktop?