Ubuntu 12.04

Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) is out. By now there are a zillion reviews of it already, but I wanted to take a little more time to use it before writing one of my own. Before I get into this review, I want to be clear that I’m not going to be reviewing Unity. By now most people know what it is, and either like it or don’t. There really isn’t any point in complaining about it any more. If you hate it then do not use Ubuntu, just find another distro.

Each time Ubuntu does a new release; it uses an animal nickname. This time around it’s called “Precise Pangolin.” I had no idea what the heck a pangolin was so I googled and found this (for those of you who are interested, if not just skip to the What’s New section):

A pangolin ( /?pæ???l?n/), scaly anteater, or trenggiling, is a mammal of the order Pholidota. The only one extant family (Manidae) has one genus (Manis) of pangolins, comprising eight species. There are also a number of extinct taxa. Pangolins have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation.[2] They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name “pangolin” derives from the Malay word pengguling (“something that rolls up”).

Pangolins are nocturnal animals, and use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.

Pangolin

Pangolins are nocturnal mammals.

For more information about pangolins, see this book:

What On Earth is a Pangolin?

There’s also a cute statue of a pangolin if you’re really into them.

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

HUD
Video Lens
Linux Kernel 3.2.14
Rhythymbox is the default music player
GNOME 3.41
Quicklist support added to Unity
LibreOffice 3.5.2
Software Center improvements
Ubuntu One gets a Control Panel

The HUD is an alternative to clicking around on menu items when you want to do something. Just hit the ALT key and you can start typing in a search term related to whatever it is you want to do. If you’re a dedicated mouse clicker, this might seem a bit slower than just clicking an icon. Once you get used to doing it, you will find that it can be much faster. Keyboard junkies will revel in it right from the start though, they’ll get to skip farting around in menus completely.

The HUD isn’t an earth shattering new feature, but it grew on me as I used it more and more. I tend to like having icons handy to click on, so if I grew to like it then I suspect other clickers will probably do the same once they get used to it. Who knew the ALT key could be so useful?

Ubuntu 12.04 HUD

Hit the ALT key to quickly use commands in Ubuntu 12.04.

To use the Video Lens, just click the Dash icon then click on the video icon at the bottom. Or just access the video lens via the quicklist on the Dash icon. This lens will be a huge help to anybody who keeps many videos on their Ubuntu systems. You can also get online search results for your video searches for sites like YouTube, etc. For example, I did a search on the term “how to skin a squirrel” and got back a bunch of results from YouTube.

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Comments

  1. john says

    I’m scratching my head wondering why so many people are having such a tizzy fit over Unity. I hate Unity too, but there is a simple solution for me. I installed gnome-panel and selected it as my default. Ubuntu 12.04 seems just like 10.04 now. Haven’t seen that icky Unity since. Problem solved.

  2. Bruce says

    I found the reviews of Mint 13 and Ubuntu 12.04 so good I decided to donate to you coffee fund.

    It was clear , concise and not full of geeg talk like some reviews.
    I have been using 10.04 since it came out,and now I am not sure if I will stay with Ubuntu or go the Mint way.

    Mint seems to be tempting me a bit more.
    Thanks Jim

    • says

      Thanks very much, Bruce. I appreciate that.  :smile:

      I’m very glad to know that you found the reviews useful. Don’t forget that Mint is a live distro, so you can always burn it to a DVD and then boot into it to try it before installing it. 

      You can also try it in VirtualBox before installing it as your main distro. That would also give you a taste of it to see if you liked it better than Ubuntu. 

  3. Michael Garvey says

    I am responding to the review as it answers some of my questions. I am thinking about trying Linux and am unsure if I should, you have answered some of them and so may take the plunge. Thanks again for review.

  4. Yan says

    So I downloaded 32b desktop Ubuntu and surely it didn't install. The motive is was incredible: my CPU isn't even supported and they didn't even bother mentioning this on the download page. Thankfully you do.

    What a shame there is no true 32bit version, one that installs on CPUs without the PAE extensions!

    I always get bitten by Linux. New and improved with every version, but it never installs on my machines. And I've tried this 50x over the years, on extremely popular DELL notebooks. Worse, PC-BSD, due to a bug, once formatted my entire disk, erasing all my backups.

    When one shows dismay the linux priests come to harass you. You know, they tell me it was me that did it wrong. For God's sake, all I did was put the damned CD in! Shoot me for that ;)

    • surja says

      @Yan: which notebook are you using? Have you checked in the forums if there is any specific problem with that particular model? Maybe there is a fix or workaround from your problem.

  5. Surja says

    Thanks for the review. This release of Ubuntu is quite a solid version. Improves the battery life of my Lenovo G570 by quite a bit. There is a major problem though, the EVDO CDMA 3G USB dongle which i use to connect to the net does not work with this version even though it worked with previous versions. There is a workaround and it works most of the time, but the devs should see to it that 3G dongles start working normally again. There are bug reports and forum postings regarding this but it seems like no one is taking care of it at the moment.

  6. DB says

    I've upgraded my netbook and desktop and I'm really digging it. I'm converting a mint laptop to it next week.

    The installation process seemed way smoother, and lots of the annoying upgrade issues I've encountered were gone.

    I'm really grateful for this review, because there were a couple of really cool things that I didn't pay attention to since I've upgraded.

    Great tip on MyUnity, and thanks to the poster above for mentioning the gimp single-window ppa.

    I was a unity skeptic at first, but now I love it. HUD is quite awesome.

  7. podshot says

    Unity and especially the HUD makes you more productive – :-) Really !.

    Believe me I hated the interface and refused to use it or even spend more then a few minutes with it from 11.x on because it was confusing and I absoltely had no idea how to deal with this. I found myself launching gimp (2.6.x) and getting mad about how to deal with 3 open windows for this app. I even have gone so far to always install Lucid and nothing newer.

    But I gave it a chance now in 12.04, together with gimp 2.8's new single window mode from a ppa ( google for howto ) and I am deeply impressed ( with both ) .

    First Unity's Dash :

    Whatever files are on my machine, be them video,jpegs,music and stuff, in short everything ubuntu supports – one press on the windows-key shows neatly organized whatever I had used the last session. This is the magic of the so called "lenses".

    There are extra lenses ( ppa again ) available for flickr and co – so it not only shows my stuff on the disk but also files that could raise my interest that are online available. The border between local and remote is just gone with Unity.

    My dash acts now also as a terminal, applauncher, calculator, wikipedia/torrent/firefox bookmarks/vimeo/youtube/flickr/deviantart search-engine — just amazing. All other OS with their search technologies, be them vistas startmenu or OSX spotlight are crap against this.

    Also with the apps – If I search my graphics programs I get auto-aware of apps that I not have installed but which could match my needs ( you know how all the thousand linux apps are just confusing – this way you are steered towards only those that might actually make sense for the task you want to do ) .

    Globalmenu seems confusing, but only if you don't use HUD :

    The HUD is plain simple the biggest productivity enhancement ever : apps like the gimp with their hundreds of menus,extension-filters and whatever become now usebale within seconds if you press the 'alt' key and just type in a fragment of the word what you want to do, for instance I open the image, HUD -> "blur" and I get all the filters that are assoicated with this. Else I would need to hunt through all the submenus to find the one I look for.

    It also works with Libreoffice ( except print-preview, but for everything else ) if you install the "lo-menubar" package. Just type "spell" and there be offerd your spellchecker plus everything else associated with it.. The possibilities are endless.

    With "myunity" and "ubuntu-tweak" there are also the first tweaking packages available that make customizing the UI and its behaviour painless and simple.

    It is a new paradigm, but really you don't want anything else if you learn it quickly ( press and hold the Windows-key to reveal the cheatboard for all the commands and shortcuts )

  8. Brian Masinick says

    I'm not a fan of Ubuntu, personally, so I'm not going to download or use this release, but I have been interested in following its progress. I figured that by this release, the major issues surrounding the changes in the user interface would be largely resolved, and based on this review, that would seem to be the case.

    While a bit disconcerting that there were so many defects remaining at or near the time of release, it also looks like nearly all of them have already been resolved, so that is also a good thing.

    I have been using Kubuntu, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu in their versions just prior to, leading up to, and following the release of 12.04. Kubuntu looked really good, early on during testing, took what concerned me as some pretty serious hits as it neared release, but then seemed to 'right' itself, and it's now reasonably solid, though not quite as much so as the two other variations.

    Lubuntu, when I first started testing and evaluating the 12.04 test – at the 02/25/12 daily build, did not even have a graphical user interface at first, but I was able to assemble the pieces myself from the repositories. Had it not been for that one issue (and admittedly, it was just a daily build; it may have been resolved the very next day or soon thereafter), Lubuntu would have been nearly perfect. It has been relatively defect free since then, and it is one of the lighter, faster systems in my collection. Moreover, it doesn't need the PAE kernel, and it may be one of the places that former Ubuntu owners with older hardware may need to retreat to in the future. If so, it's light, solid, simple, perhaps a bit light on default features, but easily customized, so it's worth a look.

    It has been Xubuntu, at least to me, that has been the quiet shining star in the bunch. It is the least pretentious of them all. It's not as small as Lubuntu, it's not as big as Kubuntu or Ubuntu, and it is less flashy than any of them, but for a system that works well, even in testing cycles, a no nonsense work horse, this may be just the system to consider using, especially in Long Term Support (LTS) form.

    The 11.10 release was pretty good for these three versions. The only one that is questionable, as far as moving forward or backward in stability is Kubuntu; with some of the new KDE features, it still wobbles from time to time, but is otherwise useful. But Lubuntu and Xubuntu are, if anything, more stable and useful than ever. They've not necessarily changed a great deal; they've just solidified what they already have in place.

    For that reason, I'd personally put either Lubuntu or Xubuntu above either Ubuntu or Kubuntu in the stability department. IF you need the full featured capabilities of either Ubuntu or Kubuntu, then go for it, but otherwise, if you don't need all kinds of drag n drop capabilities, or heavy doses of eye catching effects, then you may be better off with one of these lighter variations. That is the route that I have taken, and for me, that's what I prefer.

    It's good to have the choice between features, though, so check them out, then choose what makes most sense for each of you.

  9. cwwgateway says

    I'm pretty sure that you're using unity 2d (at least in the screenshots). In unity 3d the icons on the launcher "fold," whereas in your screenshots they disappear behind the trash icon.

  10. says

    Upgraded some of our desktops from 9.10 to 12.04. The old PCs all of a sudden seem new with the new OS. I'm more used to 10.04 desktop so the UI is a little bit awkword right now. But I love it, so I will get used to it.

    I do like the Dash Home what you are referring as HUD. No more clicking around.

    Good review.

  11. Jonquil says

    I'm surprised that for an "in depth" review you didn't mention the Privacy feature they've added to 12.04, the changing wallpaper at login, or the color changing desktop. These also are truly unique features that deserve to be mentioned.

  12. Stan says

    I think people who complain about KDE 3, GNOME 3, and now Unity are not looking to the future. We have to progress at some point, every desktop does, and things change. Every new desktop starts out horrible but after a few releases it is stable and after a few more more people use them over their older versions. Plus none of these are copying OSX and Windows anymore so they are trying new things.

    Anyway, it is sad that the first comment mentions Unity. I'm still holding out for the next Mint though. Not because of Unity but because I need a distro to completely scrub the purple and orange out of Ubuntu. I have never been able to stomach the colors of Ubuntu. Having said that I'm always happy with Ubuntu releases, they mark a higher standard for others to strive for. I may not use it but it makes Linux better!

    • Arie says

      Whether Unity may be called progress is a matter of taste. It certainly isn't for me and that's why I have abbondoned Ubuntu.

      I use a Linux desktop for my daily work, and the one thing that put me off was Unity to completely change my way of work. So I stick to the belief that Linux is all about free choice; that I can choose my GUI/way of work, and not having Unity choose it for me. I thought I had left that kind of dictatorship behind me when I sitched from Windows to Linux.

      • Eddie Wilson says

        Taste has nothing to do with it. If you noticed, now you have more people praising the efforts of Ubuntu's Unity then people who are dissing it. Yes Linux is about choice and none have been made for you. You have complete control over what you use. You sound more like the dictator type not wanting to leave your walled garden. It's okay that people don't prefer to use Unity, that is free choice, but that does not prove that Unity is not progress.

        • slammin211s says

          unity ruined ubuntu imo …. currently using lxde and will be going to mint once the new one comes avail … ever since 11.11 ubuntu has been pure shit and hasnt run right, i realize im a new user but my compute ran GREAT on version 10

      • Tom says

        I’m very disappointed with the way Ubuntu is headed too. It’s infuriating how the most user friendly OS turned the least user friendly in just two years. Windows 7 is much more adaptable and intuitive than Ubuntu 12.04. Unity is a disaster, and even Gnome doesn’t work in it anymore.

        I managed to get my mother and my sister, both absolutely computer illiterate people, to use 10.04 and they have loved it. I’m afraid that once 10.04 will be obsolete they will have to return to using Windows.

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