I can't believe there isn't an Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala thread yet. I couldn't find one in a search so I thought I'd take the liberty of starting the semi-annual Ubuntu thread.
I just installed Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
and the Netbook Remix
onto my wife's laptop and my netbook respectively using Wubi
. I thought I'd share my thoughts and experiences I've had so far with Karmic Koala. Just remember, any time I'm talking about my netbook, I'm referring to the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. Any time I'm talking about my wife's laptop, I'm referring to Ubuntu Desktop Edition.
I'd also like to apologize in advance for using Windows terminology to describe Linux/Ubuntu/Gnome things. I know it's not right but I don't know the appropriate names for some of these things, so I just go with the closest thing to what I do know, and that's Windows.The Good:
* This is the first Ubuntu release that recognized my WiFi adapter right from the get go. On all previous releases I've tried (8.10 and 9.4) I've had to go through a somewhat convoluted process involving downloading the drivers, building them, doing some other stuff I don't understand, and doing some more stuff I didn't understand so that it would load them up automatically every time I booted up Ubuntu. And then if there was a kernel update I'd have to do some of those steps again because they were apparently set up to work only with a specific kernel. Admittedly I don't know exactly everything I'm talking about, so some of my terminology may be wrong (especially concerning the "kernel update") but it sure is nice having the WiFi work just from the beginning.
* Ubuntu One, which is basically a 2GB Dropbox
for Ubuntu users. I actually haven't used it yet, but I like Dropbox and I like free online storage/sync so I think it will be useful.
* Ubuntu Software Center. This is a really nice and clean interface for installing lots of packages. It's basically a prettied up version of the Synaptics Package Manager but I think maybe SPM had access to more things than the USC. Applications are organized by category (Games, Programming, Accessories, Graphics, Audio & Video, etc.) which just makes it so easy to browse and find what you need.
* Empathy is the new(?) all-in-one IM client similar to Pidgin, but this one is integrated with the system and when you're connected you can actually see and set your status from the "Start Button" (that thing with options to log out or shut down, etc.) in the top right corner. I'm not really a fan of all-in-one IM/IRC clients in general, but I like the integration of Empathy and Ubuntu.The Bad:
* Oddly enough my netbook's Ethernet adapter doesn't seem to work when I plug a cable into it. This is especially strange considering that my WiFi works fine, but plugging in a cable doesn't seem to do anything.
* Speaking of network/internet, almost no internet browsing works without first disabling IPv6 in Firefox (use About:Config and search for IPv6).
* It doesn't recognize my netbook's built in webcam. I thought the Netbook Remix was built with netbook hardware specifically in mind? Or does that mean only the Atom processor?
* The screen brightness flickers from bright to not-so-bright for about a minute on my netbook--until the OS has had time to figure out the battery status (i.e. until the battery icon appears in the "tray" or whatever it's called in Linux).
Mouse problems on my netbook. If I touch the touchpad it breaks the mouse functionality. I'm not sure what the problem is. The mouse cursor still moves around the screen, but clicking doesn't work properly. It's almost as if whatever I'm clicking on doesn't have focus. So I click all I want and nothing happens. I should also note that I always use an external USB mouse because my right mouse button is broken on the touchpad. But if I accidentally touch the touchpad while typing, neither the USB mouse or touchpad clicks will register. And since I can't figure out how to access the "start menu" (restart, logoff, etc) with keyboard shortcuts, I'm forced to use Ctrl-Alt-Del and use the keyboard to restart the computer completely. Additionally, if I unplug the USB and plug it back in (or if it wasn't plugged in when Ubuntu booted) the USB mouse doesn't work at all. And since using the touchpad completely breaks the mouse clicks anyway, I'm pretty much forced to boot the machine with the mouse USB dongle or else I have to restart it again.
This problem has been resolved since I fixed my right mouse button on my touchpad.
* I still can't get Ubuntu to play DVD movies on my wife's laptop. I've downloaded VLC and extra restricted stuff but something keeps breaking during installation or download or something so nothing knows how to run a DVD. In my opinion, if it doesn't just run DVDs out of the box, then it doesn't "just work."The Ambiguous:
* Netbook Remix layout is almost completely different than the desktop edition. It has been a little difficult figuring out where everything is. It's a little like making the change from XP to Vista/7. You know almost everything is there, but you're not sure where to find it. There's a permant (and huge) side bar which is akin to the Windows Start Menu-> All Programs. It has categories you click on and then to the right it displays all the (huge) icons/"shortcuts" to the programs for that category. You cannot hide this and it is always there. If you have an application running then that application will display on top of it, but basically this permanent "All Programs" menu is your desktop. And instead of showing rectangles for running applications in the "task bar" it just shows the program icon, much like Windows 7, except whatever currently maximized program is running will fill up the rest of the "task bar" with the application title and an X to close it. There is no button to minimize or un-maximize, though clicking on the icon will minimize and double clicking the title bar will un-maximize, much like Windows functionality. I wouldn't really say any of this is good or bad. It's just different and takes some getting used to.
* It's Ubuntu. Once it's installed, then what do you do with it? Besides uninstalling it (ha!)? As a Windows user, I'm still mostly lost on what to do in Ubuntu. It's cool to install, fun to download things and try them out, but ultimately I'm at a loss for reasons to use it as my primary OS, or even regularly for that matter. Typically what I find myself doing is booting Ubuntu whenever someone asks a question about it so I can show it to them (most "John Q. Public" people I know don't even seem to realize there are other OSes besides Windows, with the exception of possibly understanding that Macintosh has something a little different.) or booting it just to download all the latest upgrades and wiggle the mouse around a bit looking for something to do with it before ultimately going back to Windows.Final Thoughts:
As a gamer, I'm surprised at how many games are readily available and cataloged for download right from the get go in Ubuntu. But ultimately I'm always returning to Windows to play the games I really want to play. But if Internet and DVD & MP3 playback worked out of the box, I think Ubuntu would be perfectly suitable for the every day average user who just browses, types things up in a word procesor, and listens to music/watches movies on their machine. I'd probably be able to get my wife to convert to Ubuntu on a permanent basis if that was the case.
EDIT: Updated status of mouse problems.