Friday, 6 November 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 - The Karmic Koala

I've been using Canonical's latest Ubuntu, the Karmic Koala, since Alpha 6 and have now installed the full release.

Don't Believe The Hype!

First things first. There seems to be a general feeling that this is the worst Ubuntu release to date, Canonical's very own "Vista" moment. I've heard very little in the way of positivity on the forums, but this may be due to the fact that when people are unhappy they become quite vociferous and the happy people tend to keep their mouths shut.

I am one of the happy crowd because it works very well for me on my Eee PC 900.

Restrained commentary...

However, it has to be said that this time around Canonical may h
ave attempted too much in too little time and what was promised hasn't been delivered. The new GRUB isn't finished, nor is the new Ubuntu Software Centre. The decision to replace Pidgin with Empathy, just as Pidging is making good progress with voice and video calling, is a strange one. The new boot splash is all over the place. And the list goes on...

This is the last release before the next Long Term Support release, Lucid Lynx, arrives and I'm begining to believe that Canonical should strongly consider moving away from the six monthly release cycle in favour of a yearly snapshot and an LTS every two years.

Stupid rant...

This would do away with the six monthly outburst of stupid forum questions and blog commentary from users who couldn't wait to upgrade to the latest version and then find that it doesn't live up to their expectations.

That's a snapshot release of a free operating system, you dolt. What exactly did you expect?

Stick with the stable releases and give us all some peace. Please.


How does the Koala fare on the Eee 900?

The first thing to note is that I'm running the regular desktop version from a 4GB SDHC so while it's not quite as quick is it should be, it's quick enough.

I removed Compiz, Open Office (replacing it with just the Open Office Writer), Computer Janitor (replaced with BleachBit and Ubuntu Tweak) and F-Spot (replaced with Picasa).
Then I installed all the codecs I need, Wine (I need MS Snapshot Viewer), Audacious, EasyTag, VLC and Unetbootin.
I then ran BleachBit and used the Applications Package Cleaner in Ubuntu Tweak to clean up any unwanted/unneeded packges.

And so to boot.

And this is my only real gripe...

Two minutes and twenty five seconds from GRUB to desktop.

Pretty bad. But at least it can only get better.

Once it's finished booting, it's lovely. Really. The new tray icons, network manager panel and desktop backgrounds are excellent. It still feels like a work in progress what with the abundance of brown and orange everywhere else, but it's a step in the right direction.

All of my hardware works well (and has done since Alpha 6) and the new video drivers are excellent.

Most of the hotkeys are supported:

Fn+F1 works perfectly, rejoining my wireless network on return from sleep.
Fn+F2 also works perfectly.
Fn+F3 + F4 (brightness down/up ) work and an OSD appears.
Fn+F5 works. I hooked up the TV and cycled through some different modes. It needs configuring somewhere along the line, but it does work.
Fn+F6 is untested. I don't really know what it's supposed to do.
Fn+F7 + F8 + F9 (sound mute/down/up) work and an OSD appears.

I've plugged in my HP printer, my Creative mp3 player, PSP, a Sony camera and numerous other bits and bobs. All detected, mounted and, in the case of the printer, configured.


I've yet to encounter any showstopping issues. The boot time should be considered a major issue, but now that suspend is working so well, I don't bother shutting down anymore. I've read forum posts from other 900 users who have much shorter boot times, so it may just be me.

All in all, for me, on this machine it's an excellent release and I look forward to trying out the Lucid Lynx next year.

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