Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx First Impressions

Sometime in the next 24 hours Beta 1 of Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx will be released to the world. This version of Ubuntu is different from the previous few versions for two key reasons the first is that it is a long term support release and as such will be [hopefully] more stable and more complete than other versions over the past year. The second change is in the user interface with a step away from the established brown “human” theme to a new theme that looks very Mac OS like.

For the last two days I have been running the daily build of the AMD64 release candidate for 10.04 Beta 1. So far I am very impressed with it. For the past year I have been running 9.04 as the 9.10 release in October of last year broke support for my laptop’s wireless drivers and would cause frequent lock ups. I am pleased to report that those crashes are a thing of the past in 10.04.

The Good:

  • Fast boot. 9.04 was a massive improvement in boot time over 8.10 and I am surprised to see even more of an improvement in 10.04, from BIOS to logged in would be around 20 seconds.
  • Stable. Sometimes Beta and Test Releases of software are so buggy that they are not even able to be fully tested. So far I have hit a few minor problems but by far I am very impressed.
  • Smooth. The x64 version is very smooth at booting, opening and closing windows, applications, etc. The entire operating system runs quietly and quickly.

The Bad:

  • Crash errors that are almost as cryptic as Windows BSOD and illegal operations. I have had two programs crash and both times the crash errors are just strings of numbers or error codes with no meanings or descriptions. It is very hard to even supply information on a bug report when you have no idea what went wrong, one minute it was working the next it isn’t.

The Ugly:

  • Video Drivers. I am running an ATI Raedon HD Video card and there are no free or propriety video card drivers at the moment. This means that any 2d or 3d video rendering is done through MESA software rendering and is very ugly. I hope this will be sorted out in the final release (and the current bug where if you try to install the old fglrx library aptitude will try to remove ubuntu desktop).
  • Software Install. If you want to install Ubuntu (and community) released software this is a breeze through the Ubuntu Software Manager but the instant you want to install any other piece of software you will need to go through the whole process of getting the source code, resolving dependences, compiling through the terminal sorting out linking errors and a whole lot of other nasty mess.
  • User Experience. Despite the new version of Ubuntu looking very pretty and running very fast it still fails badly in terms of user experience for your average user. Ubuntu is meant to be linux for human beings but I am still finding it linux for those people who want linux to work and have some computing knowledge for how to fix things when they go wrong and also have a linux geek to really fix things when they completely corrupt. Until vendors start releasing fully stable and supported drivers for Linux and there is a software install process for third party applications that works nicely through a simple GUI and not old fashion command windows Ubuntu and Linux in general will continue to only attract nerds, geeks and people who like to break things. I like Ubuntu for its speed and ease of use in a office/development environment. But when I am at home on the weekend I live in Windows. Things just work in Windows – fonts render correctly, most software now plugs and plays correctly, most music and dvds will just play, software is simple to install etc. Now I do not want to start a paid vs free software argument but just because it is free should not mean you need a whole lot of computing knowledge to get your email every morning.

3 Replies to “Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx First Impressions”

  1. If you need newer software use ppa or deb packages.
    If you don't like Unix-like shell – don't use it.

    “Things just work in Windows – fonts render correctly, most software now plugs and plays correctly, most music and dvds will just play, software is simple to install etc”
    Just run USC, find ubuntu-restricted-extras click on the right package, then click on the install button 🙂
    Linux is today unpopular because it isn't pre-installed.

  2. Not every single of third party application ships with a deb package. The majority ship just with source code and you have to build them. Sure it is not that hard to ./configure, sudo make, sudo make install. But for the majority of end users this is not a pretty or easy solution, and when things break during this process it is not easy for most typically end users to know where the problem is. It would be nice to have some form of gui around this process that did the the configuration and the building of an application without you needing to see all the backend.

    The restricted extras package is not the end of problems getting video and the like running. Three things that should work and don't easily are:
    Java. There are a number of different deb files and JRE/JVM options and knowing what one to chose is not very clear.
    Flash Player. Same here in 10.04 within firefox it cannot even locate a flash player.
    Adobe Air applications in particular Twhirl. It is simple to install this on Windows and a nightmare on 64 bit Ubuntu.

    The main problem with this applications from a Ubuntu developers point of view is they are not open source and that is the issue. But from a user's point of view it doesnt matter they are free, popular, provided by big companies, and should work.

    This may be a simplistic approach but it is what people expect.

  3. java and flash are in the restricted extras. in my current experience with 10.04 Beta 1, after installing that all websites work. I don't have any idea what Air is though, but have read some bad things about running it on linux. but I'm an average computer user, and have no idea what it is at all… that doesn't mean that no average users will use it but it's likely that I'm not the only one.

    however, when there's a program that I want that's not available in a deb package that's compatible with the version of ubuntu I'm using (or equiv problem for other distros), it can be anywhere from a little more effort to a total pain to get it installed and running.

    the ATI drivers are available now, and i'm guessing they'll show up in the hardware drivers application in beta 2. currently though you just need to open synaptic (or w/e you use) and install fglrx (think that was the package), it'll install the dependencies on it's own. then after installation you do have to open a terminal and do sudo aticonfig –initial then reboot (heard sudo service gdm restart works, but dono).

    really though, imho the upside of linux is also it's downside…. and that's choice…. there's too many distro's out there for it to be realistic at all for companies to provide drivers or software for all the distrobutions. This also makes it incredibly dificult to know what distro to install. everything seems to be recommending Ubuntu these days, and imo it's not that great of a distro. I did notice it being incredibly fast at first, but after a few days it was taking a long time to open anything and kept freezing (normal install, only added thing was skype and restricted extras). I was really impressed with Sabayon until I wanted to install something and saw the package manager for it. there was also a problem with the way it does the swap area. if i had any text document open i would get errors when trying to open a game or firefox saying insufficient swap area or something like that. don't know why but that seemed to only be when i had a text document open in the default application.

    really, what i've been looking for is a good kde distro, but that seems to currently be non-existant. which is lame concidering all i want is: something as easy as synaptic, skype, messenger client (don't care which), firefox (i wouldn't accept alternatives here), need WLAN to work instantly (preferably not have to enter a wallet or keyring password every single login), and kde 4.1+ with kmahjongg. other than those things it would only have to be stable (and i mean entirely stable, lately windows has been crashing less than any distros i try and that's kinda sad). can I already do this on Windows 7? yes. do I already have Windows 7? yes. but I don't like to use it…. call me nuts, but I prefer to have linux…. there's no hugely amazing reason, I just don't like to use Windows. think it's mostly i got bored of windows, been using different versions of it since 3.11, I actually have the discs for 95, 98se, me (junk IMO), 2000, Vista (32 and 64 bit),7 (64 bit). however, I use my laptop as a bluray player once in a while, so i still have to use windows once in a while. but that's currently the only thing keeping Windows on this computer.

    when people talk about the average user, they don't seem to realize that the average user generally doesn't need to be able to install anything other than maybe skype. most people use their pc's for the web browser, im clients, office suite, mp3 player (or equiv). I have yet to find a distro that you'd have to install anything that you can't get easily to have all of those things working.

    anyway, that was a lot of almost nothing which probably accomplished nothing more than taking up a inconsequential amount of space on a server HDD and wasting some time.

    hmm, one other thought…. I don't care if the software is open source or free. I just want it to work right whether it's free or not. immediate example would be bluray playback. currently nonexistant (in terms of playing the disc, not a ripped, illegal where i live file) but even if the price for it was $25 to $50 more than the Windows version of the same program, I would buy it. but I would want it to work on all discs (of my region code) at any time.

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