Thursday, September 29, 2011

GNOME 3.2 Released, tons of new features!

Just a very quick entry to let you all know that GNOME 3.2 is already available. It incorporates lots of new and awesome features that I will be testing when Fedora 16 final is out (don´t want to spoil the fun by forcing an installation on top of a distro release that may not be fully ready for this latest release). While we wait for Verne, though, it is a good idea to see what will be available for all GNOME 3.2 users.

The GNOME team have done a great job summarizing those features and enhancements, so please visit their Release Notes PAGE.

I already liked GNOME 3 and GNOME Shell under Fedora 15 (although I admit it took a little bit of effort to adjust to it), but with these great features I see GNOME as a truly great product (assuming they work as expected, of course). I do feel it has more than enough to satisfy any kind of user... Unless they are into heavy eye candy customization, that is.

The truth about Linux Power Management "issues"

Anybody who's even remotely interested in Linux probably heard about a "power regression bug" in the Linux Kernel that was making lots of noise lately. The whole thing started from several posts at Phoronix, which not only stated the problem, but also accused the Linux Kernet team of completely ignoring it and doing nothing to fix it.

Power management is anything but a simple subject, so a big majority of us users hardly know enough to challenge claims about a power management bug. To make matters worse, many Linux users dual boot with Windows, which usually does a better job at energy saving (thanks to optimized proprietary drivers). For most of those users who could notice how their Linux installation ate their laptop battery faster than Windows, it didn't take much to give this rumor solid credibility. Therefore, the fact that Linux Kernel developers were apparently doing nothing about it simply felt all the more annoying, which only helped spread the rumor like fire on a windy day.

Well, guess what? That's all it is, a rumor. FEWT, the main developer behind the wonderful FUDUNTU distro and the slick Jupiter power management application has put together a very informative ARTICLE on this, clarifying some of the misconceptions spread by the whole power bug fiasco originator, Michael Larabel.

I very much recommend reading FEWT's article to understand this matter a bit better, and most importantly, to avoid spreading this poisoning rumor any further.

Thanks FEWT for putting the time to clarify this one!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quick update about Windows 8 and Linux

An ARTICLE by Sam Dean sheds some light on this subject, which raised concerns from Linux users who could be at risk of not being able to run their favorite OS on Windows 8 certified hardware. Sam shares portions of a response to those lockout claims from Microsoft´s Tony Mangefeste. As can be read from the excerpt below, it sounds like Microsoft has no interest in limiting what end users are able to do with their machines:

"At the end of the day, the customer is in control of their PC. Microsoft’s philosophy is to provide customers with the best experience first, and allow them to make decisions themselves... For the enthusiast who wants to run older operating systems, the option is there to allow you to make that decision."

This is by no means guarantee that installing Linux on those machines will be smooth sailing, because while Microsoft may not enforce those policies, they may recommend them, or hardware manufacturers may decide to follow that route on their own. I can think of reasons why that would be the case, such as potentially simpler support scope if they stick to Microsoft´s recommendations and limit other options.

Anyways, I guess we will have to wait and see, but Microsoft´s position is at least not as threatening as it first sounded like. Not a bad start.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bring on the comments police!

Alright, I am tired of the huge amount of spam comments the blog is getting, so I decided to review comments before they are actually published. I know this will delay the whole process and will make the experience less satisfactory for those who truly want to share their opinions and interact with others, but I think it is the only way to truly limit the amount of spam posts I am getting.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Is Windows 8 a Linux killer?

ITWorld has published an interesting ARTICLE about Windows 8 OEM specs that sounds quite worrying for us Linuxers. It's a little bit complex and involves legal issues, so I very much recommend reading it, but it comes down to this: Windows 8 certified computers will make it very hard for Linux users to install their favorite OS, and dual booting sounds impossible at this stage with the information we have.

WHAT IS THE RISK?

Tough to say at this stage, but it certainly sounds like an actual threat. In real terms, though, if we look at how slowly Windows 7 is growing when compared to Windows XP in terms of market share, it would take a long, long time before we run out of hardware options. Many large corporations are still on XP, ready to squeeze it to the last drop before they have to put big money on the table to transition to Windows 7. When they do, though, it is highly unlikely they will be willing to quickly invest into moving to Windows 8, specially considering the radical changes brought to the picture by its new Metro interface. Long story short, I believe corporations won't see any reason to move to Windows 8 in the next few years, which will force hardware manufacturers to continue to support more conventional (and incidentally Linux friendly) computers.

Another interesting fact is that Linux is second to none when it comes to mobile devices. Android is groing faster than its competition, clearly leading as the OS most manufactures build mobile devices for. Considering the recent changes in GNOME and KDE (Plasma active), as well as Ubuntu's Unity, it wouldn't be crazy to think the preferred hardware target for Linux users in a few years could be Android compatible tablets. Who knows when things move and change so fast!?

Last but not least, Linux users still have an interesting option available: If Linux does one thing very well is getting the most out of old hardware. Therefore, if it comes to that, Linux users should still be able to use their favorite distro on their current hardware and stick to it for years before they need to think of an alternative.

ONLY TIME WILL TELL...

Windows 8 is still very much in the works and things around it may still change, so we will have to wait and see how things eventually unfold. The great thing is that it doesn't seem like we will run out of options any time soon, even if Microsoft wants the Penguin extinguished.

NOTE: Thanks to Andrew at WebUpd8 for his article on this topic!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Support Nepomuk

Just a very quick entry to echo a message from Nepomuk's lead developer, Sebastian Trüg.  He is in a difficult situation due to the recent financial problems Mandriva has experienced and is asking for help so he can continue to make Nepomuk a reality.



The following is an excerpt from his own Blog ARTICLE:

"In the last months I have not been paid. It has been, and still is, an uncertain situation with an uncertain future in which I was still hoping that Mandriva would recover from their financial problems. But slowly hope and savings are running low.

Since I see a golden future for the semantic desktop in general and Nepomuk in particular I would prefer to continue working on it instead of choosing some other unrelated job. There was great progress in Nepomuk in the last months, the community grows, and the system design is nearly matured. My departing from the project would essentially stop the development since I am still the only one working full-time on Nepomuk and having a deep knowledge of every part of the system.

Thus, if you think the semantic desktop is worth the effort, if you are interested in feature like semantic desktop search, sharing of relations between people, projects, events, files, emails, if you want the Semantic Save come to life, if you want Plasma Active to distance itself from the rest through powerful features exposed in Contour, if you want to browse files independent of physical folders, if you want to save snippets of web pages, pdfs, images, and others, annotate and tag them, if you want the system to adopt to contextual changes and previous usage patterns, if you want to organize your work the way your brain works then please support my work on Nepomuk."

So yeah, if you love Nepomuk and want to see it mature further, please help Sebastian.  If you are not interested in this project or cannot offer financial help, please speak up and pass on the message.  The more people aware of this, the better!

Thanks!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Get in the Fedora Ring

Ever since I tested and witnessed the significant improvements in Fedora 15 (both GNOME and KDE), I have been looking forward to yet another improvement come Fedora 16. This time around, it is even more exciting, for Fedora 16 will sport GNOME 3.2, a release that promises lots of interesting new features and enhancements, as well as KDE 4.7.2 (I think... and hope!), which also incorporates lots of exciting stuff.



Now, wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity to compare the latest from both desktop managers under the same hardware and distro? I personally think it would be interesting to see how each compares now that GNOME has had a few months to settle down and KDE has matured even further. I guess it could be argued that GNOME is still too young for this to be a totally fair comparison, but given how its developers decided to limit its set of features and complexity, it should be fine.

So, what do you think? Interested in this comparison? I'd like to see if this is equally interesting to you, but also which areas/concepts the comparison should concentrate on (i.e., ease of use, performance, Look&Feel, etc.).

Please comment below!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The art of stealing

I accidentally stumbled across this blog POST by some Mohamed Malik about PCLinuxOS 2010.1. I was reading through, interested in checking out what others found great about this fantastic distro... After a while, I started to find it creepy that our findings and conclusions were almost identical. I was so surprised that I went back to my review... And there it was, almost the exact same thing, therefore stolen word by word!

For anyone interested, here's my original REVIEW

I love Linux, love sharing my experience with it and hope that other people may benefit from reading my articles. Having said so, my reviews and comparisons take time and effort, and while I obviously don't register my material and am happy if someone else uses or refers to it, I hope they credit the source (just like I do myself).

Either way you look at it, I think it's pathetic that someone would copy and paste my review, then tweak it to make it look like original material.

PATHETIC!!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Look at Plasma Active

I just wanted to share a nice video Aaron Seigo recently shared on his BLOG on Plasma Active.  The project entered Beta status around ten days ago and is already looking interesting.

The quality of the video is not great, but Aaron's explanation makes it easy to understand and see how this interesting initiative is coming together.  You may want to read his full blog ARTICLE for further details.

Enjoy!



Saturday, September 10, 2011

Significant improvements coming to Kwin

Anyone who's used KDE for the past couple years has surely witnessed the vast improvements in performance it has experienced lately. These improvements were particularly evident once KDE 4.6 went live, so much so that, for the first time ever, I can't tell the difference in performance between my trusty Ubuntu 10.10 GNOME 2.32 desktop and my PCLinuxOS KDE 4.6.5 desktop.

Well, if you were happy about that, you'll be pleased to hear that things are about to get better very soon. Martin Gräßlin has shared some very good news on the matter in a recent blog ENTRY of his. The content of that article is somewhat technical, but I think anyone can follow and understand what the gains will be.

Long story short, Martin wanted to understand why Kwin couldn't reach 60 frames per second rendering and do so consistently, so he started an investigation, going through the code to try to spot a bug. Luckily for all of us KDE users, he did find a bug and fixed it, and anticipates considerable rendering improvements coming to KDE as soon as 4.7.2 goes live. Even more importantly, further and more significant improvements will be part of KDE 4.8, so I think we will see Kwin effects perform faster and smoother than ever very soon!! (even if 60 frames/sec. is still out of reach)

BIG Thank you, Martin!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

King of KDistros

Well, done at last!  After some time gathering opinions from readers and quite some more time testing each one of the contenders, I have finished my comparison of the best of the best in KDE distros.

...Want to know the winner??  Read on!!!

THE CONTENDERS

The final list of contenders was not directly extracted from the poll I put together. I decided to include some other distros at some readers request, as well as leaving one behind. The infamous leftover was Chakra, which I didn't manage to install (used both 2011.4 and 2011.9 images and followed all suggestions in the project's own Wiki with identical results: None) and the additions were Mandriva and Fedora. The final list of contenders goes as follows:

  • OpenSUSE 11.4 (12.1 Milestone 5 was still too un stable)
  • Mandriva 2011
  • Fedora 15 (16 Alpha was still too unstable)
  • PCLinuxOS 2011
  • Kubuntu 11.04
  • Pardus 2011.1

CRITERIA & SCORING

Alright, so we have the contenders, the next thing we need to define is the criteria by which they will be judged. Here's the list I will use:

  • It just works
  • User Friend... or foe?
  • Performance
  • Software Management & Applications
  • Hardware Friendliness
  • Aesthetic Uniqueness
  • Media support

Now, all distros will be judged against each of those categories and be given a score based on how they do. Scores will go as follows:

ScoreDescription
5Excellent
4Good
3Average
2Poor
1Terrible

As a technical note, all distros were tested on the same piece of hardware, an HP 2740p Tablet PC (except for Pardus, which was tested on an HP 2730p). I chose to do it that way because I wanted a fair and consistent testing environment, but also because I know it is a great, high performing computer which sports some hardware devices that are not always easy to configure. As such, it would pose a challenge to the different distros hardware support capabilities, clearly showing where each stands in this area. I am aware that this approach would also narrow down the testing conclusions to a very specific scenario, so please keep in mind that scores and overall results described in this article may not apply everywhere.

Alright, we're good to go now... Let's dive right in!

IT JUST WORKS

Whenever I test a Linux distro (or any piece of software for that matter), the first thing that comes to mind is whether it does what it should do. If it doesn't, or if it does in such a cumbersome way that it is effectively not viable for standard users to actually use, then I simply discard such distro. As a result, it made sense to start this comparison here.

Because this is the first item in the comparison, let me explain a bit how I will approach each of these items. Basically, since there is a big number of distros that I have to compare against quite a few criterias, in the interest of time and space, I will only go into detail when something is remarkably good or terribly wrong. Distros that do a good enough job won't get too much attention, so their actual score will be the best indication on how they did.


PCLinuxOS is rock solid, everything works as expected.

Anyways, if there is one distro in this comparison that I can highlight as an example of smooth use and out-of-the-box functionality, that would be PCLinuxOS. It pretty much required nothing from my side to get things working, providing a satisfying experience right off the bat. At the other end of the spectrum we have OpenSUSE and Pardus. The former was often a nightmare to configure and use, both in hardware and software terms (more on this in my REVIEW) while the latter did not even boot due to problems with the onboard Intel HD graphics card. On different hardware, though, Pardus works OK, but to be fair to the rest of the contenders which did manage to get things rolling on the 2740p, I have to give it the lowest score in this category.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.044
Pardus 2011.11

USER FRIEND... OR FOE?

Even acknowledging the big late improvements in this area, KDE itself is not an example of an extremely intuitive and user friendly environment. Therefore, it is quite critical to find which distros smooth out the path for the end user. Along the same lines, none of what was discussed in the previous category makes any sense if users can't understand it. Therefore, I personally see this category and the previous one as the most important ones, and consider they go hand by hand.

So, how did I measure ease of use? It certainly is subjective to a certain extent, but I was specifically looking for wizards, popup messages and any kind of information that helps the user get things done. If the OS required the user input to configure something (like software repositories), was there any message providing the required information or was the user left on his/her own to find out? Similarly, I was considering each distro community size, documentation availability and average forum/IRC channels response times.


Pardus provides an extremely clean and user friendly installation wizard.

Looking at it from that angle, Pardus is slightly ahead of the bunch. The installation process is probably the most informative and best documented. Once on the desktop, users get introduced to their desktops by Kaptan, a wonderful wizard that allows for some basic tweaks that can prove time and frustration saving. It is a bit of shame that Kaptan only shows up on the first boot and is not easy to find thereafter, though. On a different note, software management in Pardus is by far the most user friendly of all distros compared here, as we will see in that specific category later. Mandriva gets second place, even if its installation is not as user friendly as Kubuntu's, but it does a much better job at informing the user on screen. The Mandriva Control Center is also a great tool that makes system management easier to deal with, specially for users coming from Windows. PCLinuxOS benefits from its Mandriva inheritance here, even if on-screen messages are nowhere as informative, as well as the fact that most configuration work is taken care of from square one. Kubuntu goes next, not because it is particularly intuitive, but mostly because of its top quality installation wizard and the huge community of people behind it, which results in a plethora of resources available on the web. OpenSUSE's Yast and great community support leave Fedora on last position in this category.

Note that no distro got Excellent scoring and there were no terrible scores either. That's because all distros are a bit weak on this area and in all cases there is big room for improvement. In addition, each distro has strong and weak spots, so at the end of the day I am concentrating on which ones provide a smoother experience for the Linux novice.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 152
PCLinuxOS 20113
Kubuntu 11.043
Pardus 2011.14

PERFORMANCE

For this similarly important category, I will base my scoring on my experience over (approximately) a week of continued use of each distro. In other words, I didn't use any fancy benchmarking software or anything like that, just my experience over quite a big number of hours and working on very similar tasks.


PCLinuxOS felt faster and most responsive than its competition.

Yes, KDE 4.6.x already did bring significant performance and responsiveness improvements, so I must say all distros provided more than reasonable performance. Having said so, PCLinuxOS proved to be the most optimised and best tuned of the group, performing great both on my 2740p (whose solid state drive could have had a lot to do with it) but also on less powerful computers. OpenSUSE and Mandriva would follow with similar response times and overall performance feel to them. Pardus did OK, as did Kubuntu, but the latter did provide a bit of an inconsistent experience (menus freeze at times for no apparent reason). Fedora got to the checkered flag last once again, but not by a significant distance.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.44
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.043
Pardus 2011.13

SOFTWARE MANAGEMENT & APPLICATIONS

This category involves a number of concepts, ranging from the application provided to manage application installation to the number of applications available, as well as the ability of the distro to keep its applications up to date at a decent rate.

In my opinion, Pardus and PCLinuxOS cross the finish line together, each leading for different reasons. Pardus stands out due to the quality of its software manager application, which is the best there currently is in KDE land, if you ask me. It does OK in terms of keeping up with external application releases, but its relatively low popularity usually means third party software will not be installable until it's packaged on the distro repositories, or until the user compiles from code (if the option is available).


PCLinuxOS provides lots of applications that almost always are completely up to date.

PCLinuxOS' strength, on the other hand, comes from the awesome job its developers do at packaging software and keeping it current. The sheer amount of apps available from its repositories is overwhelming, as is the fact that updates come as quickly as system stability allows. Because of that, it hardly suffers from third party software developers not packaging for it specifically. Having said so, while Synaptic is a good software manager, it is quickly getting obsolete, plus it looks out of place inside KDE.

Fedora, Kubuntu and OpenSUSE provided similar experience, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, one could offer a better software manager while suffering from lower third party software availability or a slower rate at maintaining software current. Mandriva suffers from all three problems, not offering that many applications on its repositories, not managing to keep them that much in synch (Firefox and Thunderbird are still on version 5 as I type these lines), and not getting that much attention from third party software makers when they package for Linux.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.44
Mandriva 20113
Fedora 154
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.044
Pardus 2011.15

HARDWARE FRIENDLINESS

Some of you may consider this category the most important of all, and I would have to agree to a certain extent. After all, nothing really matters if the computer won't boot because no drivers are available to support the hardware in use. The only reason I didn't position it first is because all distros in this comparison (except for Pardus, perhaps) did a fairly good job in terms of hardware support. As a result, I expect most users to be able to get a reasonably good experience with any of them.

Note that I am not taking into account (just like I think most users won't) legal constraints here. I understand and many times share the open source view, but at the end of the day, users want an OS that allows them to get the most out of their computer. Because of that, I will score higher the distro that best manages hardware, regardless of whether it does so using open source or proprietary drivers. The way I see it, even if a certain distro does not include proprietary drivers out of the box, it should still provide an easy way for the user to install them if in need to do so (it's all about choice, right?).


PCLinuxOS managed to detect and correctly configure all devices in my HP 2740p.

PCLinuxOS leads this one by a significant distance, providing a satisfying experience for the end user and being able to recognize and correctly configure about any piece of hardware under the sun. Kubuntu comes second, if not for a particularly thorough catalog of drivers (proprietary ones are almost always left out), but because it does a great job at identifying what is missing and providing an easy way for the end user to overcome the problem. Mandriva follows closely, even if it failed to configure the onboard Broadcom wireless card (again, seems the final version didn't fix this problem). It did a great job with the rest of the hardware on board, though, plus it supports 3G mobile modems, something that still makes a difference (at least until NetworkManager0.9 shows up alongside KDE 4.7). Fedora was about the same as Mandriva, minus the 3G support. OpenSUSE was a bit of a nightmare and only after hours of tweaking provided partial support (the onboard mic never worked, quite a limitation when using applications like Skype). Pardus was by far the worst of the bunch, not even allowing me to boot on the 2740p. I had to test it on my 2730p, but even if that computer is usually Linux friendly, the wireless card wouldn't work.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20114
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.044
Pardus 2011.11

AESTHETIC UNIQUENESS

Alright, these are all obviously sharing the same KDE desktop, so how to decide which one looks best, specially when that is such a subjective thing? Well, I thought about it and decided to leave my own taste aside and talk about which distro has made a stronger effort to develop a unique character, a branding of sorts, if you will.

High scores in this category simply show which distros look more "customized", as opposed to others which may sport more of a pure KDE desktop Look&Feel. Therefore, scores here don't necessarily mean better or worse.


Mandriva's unique Look&Feel.

With the above in mind, Mandriva hits the top podium stand with its recent 2011 release. An almost entirely original icon theme, the rosa dash launcher, a completely revamped (and awesome looking) KDM theme, window decorations and controls, all make Mandriva stand out and look... only "KDEish". Pardus also adds many original touches, bit of a shame that the strong branding displayed during the installation is not properly translated to the desktop. On a similar level, OpenSUSE looks quite original, incorporating eyecandy of its own here and there. PCLinuxOS does include many of its own elements as well, from a custom GRUB screen to a PCLinuxOS splash screen, a couple KDM themes, custom plasma theme, etc. Unfortunately, and this is where subjective kicks in, I find them ugly myself. Fedora brings a very distinctive and beautiful KDM theme and wallpaper on an otherwise "stock" KDE setup, while Ubuntu sports an almost totally pure KDE desktop.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.43
Mandriva 20115
Fedora 153
PCLinuxOS 20113
Kubuntu 11.041
Pardus 2011.14

MEDIA SUPPORT

We all know computers have become full blown media centers, capable of playing music, movies, manage and display photo collections, organise and read eBooks... you name it. Most of that functionality is offered by KDE itself, so instead of focusing on things all distros cover, I will concentrate on their readiness to play different media formats, as well as their choices in terms of media players, etc.


PCLinuxOS can play about anything you can think of.

If one is looking for a KDE distro capable of playing about any media format in existence, that must be PCLinuxOS. It's choice of applications is also great, including VLC, digiKam, Gwenview, Clementine and more. It also includes all kinds of plugins for browsers, such as Flash, Quicktime, Java, etc. Pardus comes loaded as well, and then the rest are pretty much on the same level, requiring the infamous "Things to do after installing XX" to get all media formats and plugins in place.

KDE DistroScore
OpenSUSE 11.42
Mandriva 20112
Fedora 152
PCLinuxOS 20115
Kubuntu 11.042
Pardus 2011.14

OVERALL SCORES AND CONCLUSION

Ok, you still with me? If you are, thanks and congrats, this is a looooong article!

Summing up, PCLinuxOS shines in many categories and deserves the King of KDistros crown. I have already covered many of its strengths, but let me add its rolling release nature as yet another benefit. Users can install and pretty much forget about obsolescence of applications, downloading ISO images, testing, configuring their desktop after installation, etc.

PositionKDE DistroScore
1stPCLinuxOS 201131
2ndMandriva 201126
3rdPardus 2011.122
4thKubuntu 11.0421
5thFedora 1520
6thOpenSUSE 11.419

Mandriva's bold move with their latest release deserves recognition as well. I think they have got it all right this time, and if luck is with them, they can become the next Ubuntu now that Unity is in the way and KDE is looking so strong. Pardus, Kubuntu and Fedora follow and are closedly matched, while OpenSUSE's poor behavior in a number of categories relegate it to last position.

I guess it's easy to figure it out, but I will be explicit about it: These are six of the top KDE distros out there, so they are all good quality products. Minor details can go a long way when comparing back to back, though, and that's where the results in this comparison come from. The most important thing is that KDE users can confidently smile looking forward, because their favorite desktop management is a truly impressive piece of work, providing a great user experience under many different distro combinations... and looks like it's only going to get better!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Introducing The amazing GPS (Gimp Paint Studio)

It would be hard to find a Linux user who´s never heard of GIMP, the incredibly powerful GNU Image Manipulation Program. Unfortunately, GPS (Gimp Paint Studio) may not be known to that many people, but it certainly deserves to be, and users deserve to know about it.

WHAT IS GPS?

From the GPS site:

"GPS is a collection of brushes and accompanying tool presets. Tool presets are a simply saved tool options, highly useful feature of the GIMP.

The goal of GPS is to provide an adequate working environment for graphic designers and artists to begin to paint and feel comfortable with GIMP from their first use. Later the user will change these settings based on his own workflow preferences and understanding of GIMP."


...Alright, clear as mud? There really is nothing like seeing it in action, so here is a great video displaying what GPS 1.5 is capable of:



Quite impressive stuff, I must say.

I want to use the opportunity to congratulate fellow Spaniard Ramon Miranda for the amazing work he´s put on GPS.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ubuntu, see you in October 2012

Most of you probably know that Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot has reached Beta status today. After intentionally skipping any reference to Natty Narwhal (I didn't want to sound negative or overly skeptical), I was curious to see if the dreamy cat brings major improvements. Unfortunately, it does not sound like that's the case.

I can't say I have thoroughly tested Ubuntu 11.10, but I have quickly checked through the main new features and I must say it does not cut it for me. It feels slow, looks ugly, is needlessly cumbersome at times and plain irrational when it comes to some of its design decisions.  Sadly, some interesting features like the introduction of Light DM and Thunderbird fall short when compared to a difficult to explain rush to hide pretty basic controls and a more than obvious desire to copy Apple.  In fact, it seems like Ubuntu became "Linux for Human Beings ...that love Apple products!".

Unity keeps being the main reason for me to stay away from Ubuntu, with global menus coming close second.  Unlike GNOME Shell, which (like it or hate it and even acknowledging its flaws) does feel like an entire and well-thought paradigm shift, Unity still feels like a glorified menu... that crashes way too often.  I know, it does things that classic GNOME menu could not do, but I have not seen anything that justifies the switch.

On a different note, yes, this is simply a Beta, but I remember when I tested Ubuntu 10.10 Beta, it was like previewing the final release version, 95% solid.  This feels like pre-Alpha software at times.

Anyways, enough with the complaining, just wanted to say that I have seen enough of Unity to know that I don't want to see any more until I have to.  In other words, I will stick to my trusty Maverick Meerkat until it runs out of support in October 2012, hoping that Unity is mature enough by then.  If not, I am fairly confident that GNOME Shell and most certainly KDE will be perfect alternatives.

No Ubuntu reviews for a while, it seems!

Congratulations to Google Blogger Team!

Just wanted to quickly both congratulate and thank the Google team behind Blogger for the interface update the have put together. It looks awesome, light, intuitive, feels faster and provides more information than before. Big thank you!