Ubuntu 11.10

Yet another Ubuntu release is upon us. This time around it’s Oneiric Ocelot (Ubuntu 11.10). Canonical, as you may already know, tends to name its release after various kinds of animals. The ocelot is a dwarf leopard that dwells in South and Central America and Mexico. The other part of the name is the word “oneiric” which essentially means “relating to dreams” according to the Merrian-Webster dictionary.

Here’s a little background about the ocelot for those who are wondering about the name of this Ubuntu release:

The ocelot is mostly nocturnal and very territorial. It will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death, in territorial disputes. In addition, the cat marks its territory with urine. Like most felines, it is solitary, usually meeting only to mate. However, during the day it rests in trees or other dense foliage, and will occasionally share its spot with another ocelot of the same sex. Males occupy territories of 3.5 to 46 square kilometers (1.4 to 18 sq mi), while females occupy smaller, non-overlapping territories of 0.8 to 15 square kilometers (0.31 to 5.8 sq mi). Territories are marked by urine spraying and by leaving feces in prominent locations, sometimes favoring particular latrine sites.[9]

So apparently Canonical decided to name this release after a cat that dreams and pees a lot. Were they trying to send some sort of message? Interesting, I wonder if this decision was made by a particular individual or some sort of committee? Some have said that Canonical is copying Apple too much (Lion anybody?) and perhaps they have a point or two in that regard. Aaah well, it is what it is.

Ocelot

Ocelot

The cute name and the ocelot’s territorial pissings aside, there are many people who have been waiting for the release of Oneiric Ocelot. The last release of Ubuntu was quite controversial in some respects because of the Unity desktop. This time around Canonical has made some tweaks to Unity that might provide a potentially better experience. We’ll find out in this review if that’s true or not.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

New releases of compiz and Unity
New Alt+Tab switcher
Places are now called Lenses
Dash has a music lens that uses Banshee to search your music
Launchers and Panel promise better performance
Ubuntu Mono and Ubuntu Condensed have been added to the Ubuntu Font Family
Unity 2D shares more code with Unity and contains nearly completed accessibility support features
Ubuntu Software Center 5.0
OneConf lets you keep installed applications in sync across multiple computers
DVD size has been shrunk to 1.5 GB
Thunderbird is the default email client
Deja Dup is the default backup tool
Gwibber has been updated
LightDM is the login manager
Synaptic and Pitivi are not installed by default (but they are available in Software Center)
Linux kernel 3.0.0-12.20
Ubuntu One music collections can now stream to iOS and Android devices
Multiarch support for installing 32-bit application and library packages on 64-bit systems
Firefox 7 included as default browser
LibreOffice 3.4

Let’s jump into some of these new features in no particular order.

The multiarch support means that those running 64-bit systems will have access to a wider range of 32-bit applications and libraries. Not every application has to be 64-bit to be useful and so this release of Ubuntu should be particularly pleasing to those running 64-bit systems.

I’ll talk about the Ubuntu Software Center 5.0 in the software section of the review. Suffice to say that it’s had a significant overhaul that should make it a much better experience than it has been in the past.

The new improvements to Unity are welcome and appreciated. Unity 2D is nearly on par with the 3D accelerated version. The entire Unity experience has gotten significantly better in this release. And please note that I have not exactly been a fan of Unity in the past. I found it to be significantly more usable than in the past though I still am not sure I’d want to use it on a day-to-day basis. This time around though Unity feels much more…livable. I suspect that if I used it long enough I *might* actually come to like it.

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Comments

  1. Dean says

    OMG – What are they thinking. I have spent the last 8 years converting and convincing my family and friends to use Linux. I started with Fedora then in 2004 loaded Hardy – and what a great ride since – till now. I am now on the look out for a new Distro. Lets hope its not Windows 7.

    Dean

  2. Hans says

    @ Jim Lynch:

    Thanks for that tip on getting the classic menu indicator!

    I was really shocked when I first saw the Ubuntu 11.10 desktop and found no way to display the menus I was used to.

    I still miss the System menu especially Administration and Preferences. Any suggestion how to get these back?

    Personally I hate this new direction. Unity may be nice for people who don't care for getting to the bottom of things. But why would these people go for Linux???

    Regards, Hans

  3. jamile says

    I too find unity to be an utter waste of effort. If they made it an optional and offered a gnome install, then it would satisfy those who seem to think it is (somehow) better.

    My opinion is that if the devs want to design some kind of tablet-like interface,they should get tablets, and leave notebooks and desktop pcs with the superior traditional interface.

  4. says

    tera ubentu bekar he

    but i can't understent is operating system is a un supported o/s ad faltu os he

    jo bhi isko banaya he wo bekar he

    qqq;;;;1 where is task bar

    qqqq;;;2 where is start menu

    qq::::3 where is right click

    or bhi bahut sare he just contec me

    pankaj chouhan

    st.angelos mumbai networking enng>>.

    ccna/mcse/bca/n+/a+/java/c++

    http://desktoplinuxreviews.com/wp-content/plugins
    or bhi digrii he mere pass

  5. Ricardo says

    Hey, just a moment… You mentioned about 1.8GB, and burning a DVD but I just went to ubuntu(dot)com and the only option is downloading a CD image of 697MB. Did I miss something?

  6. Ges says

    Well, I am not going to get the new version for now. In fact, I am considering switching to Windows from now on.

    The main reason is the endless problems and the poor support for HP laptops. Even though HP plays a part in this dilemma, the fact and the end result remains that HP laptop users suffer.

    Until this situation improves, switching to Windows seems a logical move.

  7. n venkateswaran says

    i installed it last Saturday. initially did not have a clue about what to do. slowly got used to it. now i like it very much.

    i have a p4 machine with less than 1 gb ram, still youtube loaded very fast. i am impressed.

    ( i upgraded on line from 11.04)

    thanks for the review.

  8. ????? says

    ??? ??? ???????? ??? ?? ?????. ??????? ????? Apache ?????. ? Xubuntu, Ubuntu – ?? ???? ???.

    ? ??? ?? Unity ????? ????-?? ????? ?????????? ???????, ???? ??????? ???????? ????. ?????????? ???????…

    ??? ???-?? ?? ? ????????? ????????? ??? Gnome ?

    ??? "??????? ?? ???????", ??? ?????? ?????? ?????????

    ?????, ???????? ? ????????. ??? ??????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ???????????

  9. Quint Pease says

    I have use Ubuntu 11.10 for a few weeks now. I have issues that are steering me back to Linux Mint 11. Here they are: Oh, by the way, I do have a fast, dual-core laptop. Anyway, the Software Center takes minutes to open, some apps won't open until I have already tried many times and then all open at once. I hate the Unity launcher with a passion. My whole computer is slow. It will not easily set up network printers like older Ubuntu versions. It just sucks for lack of a better term.

    Check out distrowatch.com and you will see that Mint is within a few page hits of being number one on the list of distros. I am sorry to say that I think Ubuntu is making some really bad choices in functionality. I was once a loyal patron.

  10. tdockery97 says

    The really good news with 11.10 comes with the Gnome Classic desktop. If you install the Gnome Shell, then at login you are given the option of Gnome Classic WITH effects. Add some of the more popular new extensions and it's easy to configure a Gnome desktop that looks and feels like Gnome 2.32, but with the advantage of the more up-to-date Gnome 3 base. Very nice for us old stick-in-the-muds who didn't want to let go of Gnome 2.

  11. Reuben says

    Hi All,

    I have installed Ubuntu 11.10. Overall feel, features and looks are just amazing. However acessing web pages gets slower,

    with firefox web browser in a multitab environment.

    Interestingly :cheerful: , Google chrome(in Ubuntu 11.10) does not seem to have a similar problem

    Thanks,

    Reuben

  12. kbed says

    @ Brian Masinick:

    Funny, I find Unity to be very conducive to the type of navigation style you are describing. I put my 10 every day applications on the left bar and each is mapped to super + 1..10. I used to do a lot more desktop switching before unity, now I have all my apps in one desktop (VMs not withstanding, they get their own as they don't play nice with the key binding) and I use the super key bindings to switch among active apps/instantiate new ones. It would be nice to be able to bind more than 10 applications but for me it's a one-off to reach for something not on that list (a lot of times I just use terminal for that, which is itself bound).

  13. John Frank says

    Hi Jim,I've been reading your articles for years (I wonder if you still have your iMac),and I got to appreciate your opinion. One question: I really like Cairo-dock and Compiz. Is there a way to use Cairo instead of that Unity monstrosity?

  14. Brian Masinick says

    I am with you on this. Both KDE and GNOME, as they have moved to their most recent major releases, have changed so much, and they have essentially abandoned their original approaches.

    There was such an uproar with KDE that many of the original release features were brought back, but it took them FIVE minor releases (each with a five month cycle of incremental updates), so we're talking about twenty five months or more before they finally got it together well enough to be considered once again for regular use. But to some, the interface that was previously used still has not been completely recovered.

    In the case of GNOME 3, we are definitely not there, and unless GNOME project views change, the GNOME developers, at least at one time, were pretty adamant that they were changing the interface and not retaining the old look and feel.

    I've started to hear about tools and techniques to bring some of that old look and feel back; not sure if this comes from the GNOME team or from those who want some of both the old and the new.

    Quite a few distributions have not followed either the GNOME 3 Shell path or the Canonical Unity path, so there isn't much unity of opinion on this, and there seems to be more fragmentation in the GNOME camp with the Version 3 release than there was with KDE in the Version 4 release. Perhaps that is because KDE 3.5 was maintained until KDE developed sufficient features and stability to replace KDE 3, or perhaps it is because KDE provides more choice and configurability, as it always has.

    In any case, I'd be interested in seeing to what extent Canonical is dealing with these matters. From a practical standpoint, if I am ever going to use Unity, I want it to be smooth with my every day work flow. I want to be able to switch applications or tasks in one or two clicks or keystrokes, and I also want to be able to invoke additional applications with minimal interaction. Not sure if we are there yet with either of these things.

    Can you or anyone else comment on how usable Unity is if you have many concurrent tasks and applications going on at the same time? How easy is it to navigate between them? How easy is it to determine what you have running? How easy is it to start another application when the current running app is using up the full screen?

    ArcherB wrote:

    I upgraded my headless workstation before my desktop. This was a mistake. Since Gnome2 has been removed, I was left with nothing to use for VNC. Even trying to use 2D did not work right. A quick look at the forums showed me that this was a known issue and I was not able to find anyone with a decent fix.

    I was able to figure it out by running XFCE4 as my default VNC desktop. This worked out quite well, although not as good as Gnome2, but still functional.

    I won’t be able to comment on Unity until I install it on my desktop system. Frankly, I hated Unity so much from the last release that I’m still on the fence. I really love my Gnome and don’t want to lose it. With a quick glance, I can tell you the speed my processors are running, the temp of each system component, and the load on my network, RAM, processors and HDD’s. This type of widget support is not available in Unity at the moment and is not nearly as polished in XFCE4. I don’t know if I’m ready to give up this level of customization quite yet. It’s my system and I want to set it up how I like. I am having a hard time performing an “upgrade” that takes features away.

  15. Brian Masinick says

    @ Jim Lynch:

    Great to see you back in distro review mode, and I am happy to hear that Ubuntu seems to be making strong steps to improve not only Unity, but the entire experience as well. Based on my tests running Kubuntu 11.10 throughout the testing cycle, and my recent installation of Xubuntu 11.10 and upgrades of a few other upstream derivative distributions, the overall quality of packaging and tools provided by the Ubuntu ecosystem continues to improve. This is quite possibly the most stable non-LTS release ever released by Canonical, and it sets them up well in preparation for their next LTS (Long Term Support) release, 12.04, in April 2012.

    You spoke of both the 2D and 3D Unity interfaces being much improved. One thing that would interest me is a bit more discussion about how Unity has improved navigation to reduce key clicks. It seemed in the previous release that it would take quite a few keystrokes to do anything other than the most routine things that are immediately available on the left side tool bar, and also, minimizing, maximizing, or otherwise re-arranging the location of running applications or navigating between them was inconvenient.

    How well have these concerns been addressed, and how many clicks or keystrokes are required, on average, if you have four or five applications running and you want to shift between them, and consume the entire workspace with the current application, then in one or two clicks, shift to another app?

    What about multiple work spaces and shifting between them?

    When I used 11.04, I found that the software worked reasonably well, but it was quite inconvenient for me to use. I had never been much of a GNOME fan in the first place, but at least I did not mind the previous GNOME 2 interface, but this isn't so much about personal preference, it's now about convenience. Unless this is much improved, to me work flow is adversely impacted by the recent changes. Therefore, discussion of what's changed and even more details about how this can be made more workable within a typical work flow would be appreciated.

    You touched on it some and said it is improved. Can you give us a few more examples of the ways in which you have found it improved – particularly in navigating between active applications and invoking additional applications in a minimal number of steps and keystrokes, maintaining concentration of what you are doing?

    I'd be interested in hearing from you on this, Jim, but I would be glad to hear from others as well, specifically if you can address how you have been able to use Unity effectively in its latest implementation.

    Glad you are reviewing again, Jim. Hope this is the first in a string of three or four reviews. There are at least three updates in the Ubuntu camp alone; maybe Xubuntu just deserves a Quick Look bacause it's not really a major evolutionary change, but it is a really good release.

    Kubuntu looks really good; would love to hear your views on it as well.

  16. says

    Hi Sccrl,

    I really didn't notice much performance lag, if any. It was quite zippy for me. I'd say grab a copy of VirtualBox (it's free) and install it on your computer. You can then play with Ubuntu or any other distro and get a feel for it before doing the dual boot thing. Or you can just run it inside of VirtualBox.

    https://www.virtualbox.org/

  17. Sccrl says

    Since you installed using VMBOX, what kind of performance lag is there that you did or could not notice – even though you say the performance was better. I have not used the VMBox and was thinking to either dual boot the home Mac or use to install Win 7 and/or an education Linux distro.

  18. ArcherB says

    I upgraded my headless workstation before my desktop. This was a mistake. Since Gnome2 has been removed, I was left with nothing to use for VNC. Even trying to use 2D did not work right. A quick look at the forums showed me that this was a known issue and I was not able to find anyone with a decent fix.

    I was able to figure it out by running XFCE4 as my default VNC desktop. This worked out quite well, although not as good as Gnome2, but still functional.

    I won't be able to comment on Unity until I install it on my desktop system. Frankly, I hated Unity so much from the last release that I'm still on the fence. I really love my Gnome and don't want to lose it. With a quick glance, I can tell you the speed my processors are running, the temp of each system component, and the load on my network, RAM, processors and HDD's. This type of widget support is not available in Unity at the moment and is not nearly as polished in XFCE4. I don't know if I'm ready to give up this level of customization quite yet. It's my system and I want to set it up how I like. I am having a hard time performing an "upgrade" that takes features away.

  19. says

    Thanks, guys. Glad you liked the review. I've been on a bit of a review hiatus so this was a good one to come back with. Ubuntu is always fun to write about.

    Hey, here's a great tip somebody posted on G+. It lets you install an application drop down menu:

    Install ClassicMenu Indicator on ubuntu 11.10
    http://www.ubuntugeek.com/how-to-install-classicm

    It could be quite useful for those who like having a classic app menu to use in Ubuntu.

  20. Jonquil says

    I left 11.04 because of problems like a memory leak in Ubuntu One. I would return to 11.10 but I'm afraid I'm just enjoying the Fedora 16 Beta a little too much. Still, 11.10 may eventually find its place on my second laptop.

    Good, solid review. You can tell a lot of time and thought went in to this piece. I look forward to seeing more reviews by you.

  21. Imhoteps says

    Imhoteps wrote:

    Thanks for a review, Jim!

    I agree that 11.10`s Unity is much more usable by default now. Tried Oneiric on Atom N270 with 1Gb DDR2 RAMmed netbook – well, although everything went smooth, OS lagged noticeably, even compared to 11.04.

    But for Unity lovers as me, using Oneiric on decent machine, will become into kinda nice ride.

  22. Imhoteps says

    Thanks for a review, Jim!

    I agree that 11.10`s Unity is much more usable by default now. Tried Oneiric on Atom N270 with 1Gb DDR2 RAMmed netbook – well, although everything went smooth, OS lagged noticeably, even compared to with 11.04.

    But for Unity lovers as me, using Oneiric on decent machine, will become into kinda nice ride.

  23. Stan says

    I still haven't installed Ubuntu, used to do it the day it came out, but the last release I just stuck with my Mint install and waited for Mint 11 to come out before I updated. This one looks better and I have to get around to downloading and installing virtual box and trying it out, I don't think it will replace my Mint install though, I still want Unity and Gnome3 to mature before I use them as my main GUI.

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