So, I’ve reviewed most Ubuntu releases since 2009 (I think…don’t quote me ) and I was trying to decide whether or not to review this one when I asked the question on Google+ “Is Ubuntu relevant”. It appears so. Although very few people in my circles are talking much about it, most of them still use it. I also checked over my site logs, and my 10.10 post is *still* my most viewed post ever, and also had more hits in the single day that I posted it, than I get most months. So clearly people still want to hear my opinion on Ubuntu. So, I downloaded the most recent ISO of 11.10 and set about reviewing. Obviously its not 100% done when I am writing this, so if something is different, this is why, but it should be pretty much the same as I’m writing it the day before it comes out.
On booting up the ISO, the boot screen is still not great. This is 1 thing that Ubuntu has annoyed me with for a long time. It tries so hard to get everything to look nice and shiny, but yet when you get an error on the boot screen, you have this horrible looking splash screen replacing the normal one, and the error is normally even wrapped across more than 1 line.
When installing, it does, however, have a really nice looking hard drive chooser. You get 2 options: “Use entire hard drive” or “Do something else”. This is fantastic, IMO, as it is essentially giving a really easy option to people who don’t know what they are doing.
The rest of the install is fairly basic for Ubuntu. Like previous versions, it starts installing and asks you your personalisation options (a thing that I really love for the record). Location, keyboard and user settings. And then a bunch of information about stuff included in Ubuntu while you wait. For the record, the user settings is simplified a bit I think. Really simple. I like.
Right…now on with the actual OS:
The dash has been changed quite a bit. The button up the top left has changed to a proper button in the sidebar, which looks a lot nicer, but uses more vertical space. I guess its not a huge issue, as when you have lots of things in the sidebar they go into that cover flow style stacking thing, and I do prefer the look of it. It seems a lot more responsive than previous versions (I always would sit for quite a while waiting for it to load up previously).
The main change is the addition of “lenses”. If you look at the screenshot of the dash, you will see a bunch of icons at the bottom. These are essentially filters that allow you to search through various different types of things. There is an api that allows you to build other ones, but to start with there is “Applications”, “Files” and “Music”. IT seems like a really interesting idea, and certanarily helps with trying to find something, as there is also a “Filter results” option once you are in a lense, which allows you to be more granular. All in all, it seems really nice, and certanarily helps with the whole “Where did I leave that file…”, or an easy way to find a music file that your music manager puts in some odd place.
It would not be an Ubuntu release, without something about the window buttons. If you look at the screenshot to the right, the top is the bar with the mouse hovering over it and the bottom is without that. There has been many a discussion about that, so I will just give a quick opinion about it, and that’ll be all. I think its a great idea, but there is 1 issue with it. Its not obvious how to get to it. Once you are used to it, it is. But there is no obvious visual cue that you need to hover to get this. And that’s my only issue with it.
The software centre has had a massive overhaul. It looks much nicer and its really easy to find stuff you want now. There
are a few screens that don’t fit in with the theme of the normal pages (the installed and history pages), but all in all I think
it is really positive.
I did find a few programs that said they cost money, but actually cost “$0.00″ and were trial versions. This is a minor thing, and I know you can then upgrade these within the programs, but it seems a little silly. Maybe have a different section for trial ones? Don’t get me wrong, its better having them in the “for purchase” section than in the free section, but it still seems a bit odd…
This is something I asked for from Ubuntu a year and a half ago
, and hey presto…we have it. A concise Settings menu that gives you all the options the average user could want. It is simple, obvious and actually pretty good looking. You get there by clicking on the power menu (top right) and choosing System Settings. Then do what you want…exactly what I wanted
Not much else to say, Thunderbird is the default mail client. Seems to integrate really nicely into the desktop and, let’s be honest, its a real improvement to evolution.
Other minor things that I don’t really have the space to cover in detail (read as: things that normal users probably won’t care much about):
- Gnome 3.2
- Finally, no Synaptic installed by default (Yes I think this is good, cause if you want *that* much detail, you’ll know how to install synaptic, and it just wasted space….)
- Some arm builds
- Improved 32-bit library installation on 64-bit
- OneConf has now been integrated into the Ubuntu Software Center to help keep your installed applications in sync between computers.
All in all, it seems like a very nice release. Seems much nicer for people who don’t care how their machine works, and people who like unity should like everything that has changed. I apologise for the amount of stuff in here, and I’m sure many of you will suffer a case of (TLDR), but if you really care about what I feel is important, then I’m sure you skimmed the bits you didn’t care about. Let me know what you think about it in the comments…and what your favourite/worst thing about it. Trolling won’t be accepted