I downloaded the latest release of Ubuntu shortly after it was finalized on Thursday. Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala, contains several improvements over previous versions of Ubuntu, so I was pretty glad to see it.
I decided to do a complete reinstall on my desktop system rather than to upgrade in place. I had been upgrading that box since 7.04, and felt it was time to get a clean start with the latest default settings. I backed everything up onto my large “data” drive, and booted the CD.
The installer worked just fine. I was presented with the normal slate of options. Choose between drives, and choose to add the OS beside existing ones, or wipe and do a clean install.
My first impression was that the new boot up screen is interesting. I have never been that concerned either way. I do like the new GDM login screen. In my house, I am the only Dvorak user, and my keyboard is only marked for QWERTY. That makes logging into my system for non-Dvorak users difficult at best. Now the login screen allows users to pick their language and keyboard layout.
Canonical seems to be taking people’s complaints about Ubuntu being ugly seriously. The default color scheme is still “Human,” with brows, oranges, and other earth tones, but it feels more refined. There are several backgrounds, mainly macro shots of flowers and objects, that are quite lovely.
The system was configured by default to use the open-source nVidia driver. The Hardware Drivers applet did not offer me the chance to activate the nVidia binary drivers, either. That’s not a great change, in my opinion. The FOSS projects have come a long way, but the feature sets and performance are still nowhere near what you can get from nVidia. Thankfully, the v185 drivers are in the repositories and were easy to install.
The notification system is nice. The understated and unified look to the system’s icons is welcome. Sadly, it’s ruined once individual programs start adding their own, but some things are just out of the control of the distribution.
My system seems snappier than it did before. Partially this is losing the various unnecessary programs that built up over time, I am sure. There may also be a bit of a performance improvement due to switching to the 64-bit version of the OS. I installed the Adobe Flash alpha for 64 bit Linux. So far, everything else is running just fine.
I’m not yet sure what I think of the switch to Empathy as the standard messaging client. I don’t like its alert setup as much as Pidgin, and it is far less configurable and extensible. I am still feeling it out. What it does, it does very well. The question is, is that enough? In addition to the notifications, I am missing Pidgin’s ability to combine contacts into a single metacontact.
All in all, I’m very happy with the new version. I will continue to post my thoughts as any occur to me.