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Author Topic: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)  (Read 4533 times)

Deozaan

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Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« on: October 05, 2010, 03:00:13 AM »
Hello again! It's time for my semi-annual Ubuntu thread. Ubuntu 10.10 is just around the corner!

Every 6 months I install the latest version of Ubuntu and try it out to see what's new and how it works. This new version doesn't seem to have many new features. The notable differences that stick out to me are related the Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE):

Quote
The new Unity interface is now the default in Ubuntu Netbook Edition. It includes places for launching applications and browsing files, semantic search through the usage of zeitgeist, optimizing vertical space with a global menu bar and maximizing application by default. A launcher is also available for keeping and dealing with mostly used applications. All favorites from UNE lucid or gnome panel items and desktop shortcuts are automatically transitioned to the launcher on first run.

In addition to that, the date and time indicator now has a real calendar widget and is included by default.

It appears as though the new Unity interface will address my previous complaints of the huge UI on tiny netbook screens:

I'm also frustrated with the fact that their idea of a version of Ubuntu made especially with small screens of netbooks in mind basically means making all the icons and everything so huge that it takes up half of the screen and you have to use scrollbars on everything to be able to see it all.

More ranting on huge UIs on tiny screens
(see attachment in previous post) (see attachment in previous post)

And there are other little things that are annoying. For instance, in Firefox, changing the toolbars to use small icons doesn't actually change the height of the bar. The icons get smaller, but the area the toolbar takes up is still exactly the same. So there's no reason to use small icons. I change to small icons even on my 19" monitors just to save the visual real-estate. But on a netbook especially, those 10 or so pixels would make a difference.

My idea of "optimized for a small screen" is to make everything minimalist and compact so I can see as much information as possible. But they did the opposite. It just feels so contradictory. It's like buying a Large Print edition of a book that's printed on paper the size of 3x5 notecards: Sure, the whole book is there, but you'd be turning the page every 3 or 4 words.

The tiny screens already have low resolutions to keep things from getting too small. No need to use 128x128 pixel icons when the vertical space only measures at 600 pixels.

For some reason the big, dumbed-down UI just feels restrictive to me. It gives me the feeling that all of the same controls of the desktop edition aren't there. It makes me feel like I'm using a Smart Phone OS, rather than a "real" computer OS. And even though I'm pretty sure you can still do everything from the terminal at the very least, I can't get over that feeling that I'm limited.


I had decided after last time that I would never put UNE on my netbook again because I hated the huge UI so much, but it appears as though I'll have to give it another try now that it has adopted a more minimalistic theme.

We focused on maximising screen real estate for content. In particular, we focused on maximising the available vertical pixels for web browsing. Netbooks have screens which are wide, but shallow. Notebooks in general are moving to wide screen formats. So vertical space is more precious than horizontal space.

Well duh! and it's about time!

Mockup of Unity.pngUbuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
Unity mockup.

All that said, I haven't tried out the beta or the RC yet, and since it's only a few days away from the official final release, I'm just going to wait until then before I put it on my PCs (with Wubiw). I'd be glad to hear opinions and experiences any of you have with it, as well.

« Last Edit: October 12, 2010, 12:14:42 PM by Deozaan »

Deozaan

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Re: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 04:49:50 PM »
I had gone out of town over the weekend and forgotten about the Ubuntu 10.10 release until yesterday. So I downloaded a bunch of the disk images and installed via Wubi on my desktop and my netbook.

First of all, I have to say I am a big fan of the new Netbook edition.

Ubuntu 10.png
(image stolen from Ars Technica article)

My biggest complaint for the Netbook Edition from last time was how much space the UI took up on the tiny netbook screens and Canonical has addressed those concerns by going for a more minimalist approach. There's a single side launchbar with some default applications which of course can be added to or removed as you desire. Each icon on the launchbar has an arrow symbol on the left if the application is running and an arrow symbol on the right if that's the currently active window, so you can easily tell what you have open and what you have active at a glance.

I haven't figured out how to easily re-order the items on the launchbar. Clicking and dragging just drags or "scrolls" the entire launchbar. This is a bit of a shame because when I changed my default browser from Firefox to Chromium it placed the Chromium icon near the bottom of the list instead of at the top where Firefox was previously.

Another good thing about the Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE, which coincidentally could also stand for Unity Netbook Environment) is that it now correctly detects my built-in webcam for the first time ever. This means that the Cheese webcam app is no longer useless, though it probably won't be used by me. :)

Sadly you can't get the weather in your "taskbar" (whatever it's called in Ubuntu) like you can in the desktop edition. But at least it has a real calendar this time.


The Ubuntu One Music Store (built into the packaged-in Rhythmbox Music Player) is pretty cool, too. Now, I've never really used iTunes on my own computers but I know other people who use it (like my mom) whom I've helped do stuff on it. Rhythmbox seems very similar to iTunes but the great thing about the Ubuntu One music store is that once you buy the music it is stored in the Ubuntu One cloud for free and you can sync (download) it to any computer you like. There is no DRM, which means you can burn it to disc as often as you'd like, or place the files on any MP3 player you'd like, iPod included, and as previously mentioned (it appears) you can redownload it as often as you'd like since it's in your personal cloud. So to me it seems to have the all the benefit of iTunes without any of the nasty restrictions.

I haven't purchased any music in a long time for a couple of reasons: One, I've been finding some really great free (creative commons, etc.) music lately and two, I live in an apartment and don't want to disturb neighbors with music, so music has actually been playing less of a role in my life lately. That is, I don't listen to music as often as I used to so I haven't been on the lookout for new stuff very much. Well, today I bought a new album I'd never heard before and am currently enjoying it as I type this up. I happen to be typing this up from within Windows, so after I get this posted I'll boot this PC into Ubuntu and sync the music to my desktop machine.

There's even an Android (and iPhone) app that you can use if you pay for a subscription to the Mobile Package which allows you to (among other things) stream your music from the cloud to your phone.

The only downside I can really see is that as far as I can tell, there's no way to access the Ubuntu One Music Store outside of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS or newer. However, it does appear as though they are working on a Windows beta of Ubuntu One, but that may just be the Dropbox-like cloud syncing service and might not include the music store.

As for the desktop edition, I haven't had much time to play with it yet. I got it installed yesterday and got my wifi driver installed (a task made so much easier by my phone's internet tethering feature) and then I had to boot back into Windows for other things.

I'll definitely experiment a bit in the desktop edition and report back, though I wouldn't expect there to be much new to say about it that I haven't said before.

Ars Technica has a good write-up of some of the nifty new features, so give that article a quick read.

minstall.png

The installation process is now more streamlined to download updates and install some 3rd party software that allows you to play MP3s, etc. I'll be sure to check again how difficult it is to get DVDs to play when I boot into the desktop edition (my netbook doesn't have an optical drive).

Ubuntu sure has come quite a ways since I first tried it with version 7.10 or 8.04 (can't remember which). I think it may finally be ready for your average "computer illiterate" Joe to use without them having to ask their computer geek friends more questions than they already do in Windows or Mac.


Armando

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Re: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 09:46:16 PM »
Nice stuff  :up:
Thanks for sharing.

Deozaan

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Re: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2010, 03:06:06 PM »
Okay, so I played around a bit inside the desktop edition of Ubuntu 10.10 and found it to be about as good as expected.

Once I logged into my Ubuntu One account, my music I purchased on my netbook did indeed synchronize to my desktop machine. That's pretty cool.

I popped in a DVD and it would not play. Apparently Ubuntu 10.10 comes with all the proper software to decode DVDs but you still have to type in a command from the terminal to enable it:

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

And after that you also need some other non-included software to play the DVDs. I noticed that there is some DVD playing software for purchase in the Software Center that I'm sure would do all that for you as well, but $25 seems a bit much for something that should (IMO) just come with the OS. I just use VLC. But if you were someone who didn't know how or couldn't find the information on what command to type into the terminal to enable DVD playback and you didn't know about free media players like VLC, you'd probably buy the Fluendo DVD Player for $25 because you just wouldn't know any better.

On the other hand, with the new installer asking to install 3rd party, proprietary stuff, maybe it will automatically handle that stuff for you. I used the Wubi installer so I wasn't given the option of downloading updates and installed 3rd party software when I installed it. So maybe all this isn't true if you do a "true" install of Ubuntu.

That's about all I have to report on the latest version of Ubuntu 10.10. I've been considering playing around with the Server edition on an older PC that hasn't been running in several months, but I'm not sure I'll ever get to that, especially since my secondary monitor is out of commission right now and it's a hassle to unhook this one.

« Last Edit: October 14, 2010, 05:06:04 PM by Deozaan »

zridling

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Re: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2010, 12:27:00 AM »
Thanks for sharing this, Deozaan. I make no secret about the fact that I've never been an Ubuntu fan, Vishnu knows I've tried. As you find, the best thing is to drop in once or twice a year and see what's changed.

Under both openSUSE and Fedora, I haven't used -- nor needed to use -- the command line in 25 months as of yesterday. Is that a good thing? For newbies to Linux it is.

Deozaan

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Re: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2010, 12:30:24 AM »
Under both openSUSE and Fedora, I haven't used -- nor needed to use -- the command line in 25 months as of yesterday. Is that a good thing? For newbies to Linux it is.

Every now and then I download the latest version of openSUSE to try it out, but never actually get around to using it since it doesn't have a nifty Wubi-like installer that will allow me to easily install or remove it from Windows.

Then again, instead of trying out Ubuntu Server edition on that old PC, maybe it's time to try out openSUSE on it.

When I get around to it. . . ;)


Bamse

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Re: Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2010, 09:34:43 AM »
Ubuntu Tweak http://ubuntu-tweak.com/ is nice and necessary to fix stupid default settings like titlebar buttons at left and other annoyances of Ubuntu. Must have for those without deeper knowledge of command-line.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

« Last Edit: October 15, 2010, 09:36:23 AM by Bamse »