Ubuntu 11.10 Review : I take it back. Unity is cool.

Today is a big day.  Today marks the release of Ubuntu 11.10 and, with it, the first real update to the Unity desktop environment that first shipped, 6 months ago, with Ubuntu 11.04.

I spent the last two weeks living in Ubuntu 11.10 Beta on my primary machine.  And am now upgraded to the latest and greatest bits of the final version that should be shipping any moment now (by the time you read this it is likely already available).

First, a little back-story.

When Ubuntu 10.04 shipped… I called it perfect.

When 10.10 shipped… I was pretty doggone happy with it.

Then 11.04 shipped, with the new Unity desktop… and… I just plain did not like it.  No sir.  Not one bit.  Unity just plain made me cranky.

So this new release had a lot riding on it for me.  The Ubuntu team had to show that Unity could really be great.  Not just great… but worth while.  With so many other great desktop environments (Gnome 3, KDE4, LXDE, Enlightenment, etc.), Unity had to show that it was both distinctly different and distinctly high quality.

And they pulled it off.  By Jove, they pulled it off.

Let’s go over the changes that I find the most interesting.

Better 32-bit support on 64-bit systems

Or, in short, “multiarch“.

It has always been possible to run 32bit applications on a 64bit system.  Usually this required installing 32bit versions of the various libraries (ia32-libs) and, often, building “64bit” packages for 32bit binaries.

In 11.10, Ubuntu is taking the first steps in improving this by providing the ability to simply install 32bit apps (and libraries) along side 64bit ones.  The end goal being to make a wider array of 32bit apps available to users of 64bit systems.

This may not seem like a big deal to many… but it is huge.  Let’s face it, most applications don’t need to be 64bit.  How much ram does a calculator really need?  So making it transparent to the user to run either 32 or 64bit apps is fantastic.

New Login Manager

LightDM.  A lot of people will pay a lot of attention to this over the next few days.  So I’m not going to.

Here it is in a nutshell: Light DM looks pretty.  It’s lightweight.  And it’s easy to customize (what with it sitting on webkit and all).

Some App Changes

Most notably: Thunderbird is the new email client.  And Deja Dup for backups.  No issues there.

The On Screen Keyboard

I have a Lenovo S10-3t.  It’s one of those “Netbooks with a swivel touch screen that turns into a tablet” machines.

And I love the heck out of it.

Ubuntu 11.10, like its predecessors, does an excellent job of supporting the touch screen right out of the box.  In fact every piece of hardware on this rig worked perfect without no fiddling around.

And, luckily, there is a fairly functionality (and rather… interesting looking) on screen keyboard that is available directly from the login screen.

So, if you are using a tablet, you can log right in without ever pulling out a real keyboard.

Unfortunately, this on screen keyboard is not quite so easily pulled up once you are logged in.  It takes a fair bit of clicking and digging.  But it’s there.  And it works.

It’s ugly as sin.  But it works.

Updated Ubuntu Software Center

I have a vested interest in seeing the Software Center improve (as I actually make a portion of my living by selling software through it).  And, what I see in 11.10, pleases me greatly.

Things are much more discoverable and approachable than in previous releases.  Ratings, application sorting/searching, categories… What’s New section.  It all feels much easier to discover new software.

Plus, it looks fantastic.  Clean and elegant, with the Ubuntu style.  Very slick.

The Software Center feels like a real, grown up application store.  And a damned good one at that.

Unity Improvements

And here we get to the main event.  All the other items… those are important (especially multiarch and the updated Software Center).  But Unity.  Unity is key.

If Unity sucks, none of the other improvements matter all that much.  Because you’ve gotta live in Unity.  Every moment.  Of every day.

Luckily – Unity is very, very far from sucking.

There are new features in Unity (including new alt-tab switching and the addition of some handy shortcuts to key settings in the power menu in the top right — including display settings, printers and more).

But those aren’t what makes Unity in 11.10 good.

Nope.  What makes Unity in 11.10 good… is three specific things:

1) Huge improvement in quality.  Both in terms of small visual refinements and, even more importantly, bug fixes.  Unity feels solid now.  In its first release, Unity felt like it would break if you looked at it funny (and, often, it did).  But in Ubuntu 11.10, I’ve yet to have any serious issues with Unity.  And that makes me happy.

2) Speed.  Massive, massive speed improvements.  None of us want to wait around for our desktop environments.  And Unity does an excellent job at being peppy.

3) Consistency.  Thanks to Unity 2D, the experience of using Ubuntu is astoundingly similar for both 3D accelerated desktops… and those less fortunate (often in virtual machines).  This also means that the experience of first booting Ubuntu 11.10, even if you haven’t installed proper video drivers with 3D acceleration yet, will be a first class experience that will be almost identical to what you will get with 3D support.

So it’s good.  But is it worth while?

Yes.  Yes it is.

At first I was, admittedly, hesitant about the direction Ubuntu was going with Unity.  I asked the same questions that so many of you have asked (“Why?  Look.  Over there.  Gnome 3.  Use that.”).  But now I get it.

Ubuntu is really doing its own thing with Unity.  And that, in and of itself, is worth while… so long as they build Unity in a high quality way.  Choice is, after all, one of the things that we all love so much about Linux.  And this is, most definitely, not Gnome 3 (which I have also come to have a healthy respect for).

And even more importantly — I have actually enjoyed using Unity.  Is it perfect?  Nope.  But it is good enough to make me smile.

Here is the final, important, question:

Is Ubuntu 11.10 worth upgrading to?

Yes.  Without hesitation.

I skipped 11.04 for my main machine.  But 11.10?  It’s staying on here.  This is a heck of a good release.

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91 Responses to “Ubuntu 11.10 Review : I take it back. Unity is cool.”

  1. dv_cool_fuel says:

    Thanks Bryan,

    Ill give it a go


  2. russell warner says:

    I soo agree with all your points. at first no one knew what unity was, but then it matured and it became obvious. its awesome!

  3. sailor_jupiter says:

    Too many words; didn’t read. I’m looking forward to a full review on LAS.

  4. random_guy says:

    Unity is positioning Ubuntu well for the future. Hybrid tablet/notebook/workstations are the next big form factor on the horizon, and while 11.04 was controversial and probably a little insane, the bold move was necessary. From here on it all gets sweeter.

    I’m looking forward to UDS-P. Shuttleworth seems to have a memorable announcement in the works.

  5. Abe says:

    I have reservations about a 3d desktop, it’s just superfluous.

    I want to thank Unity for one thing though: Pushing me towards KDE (after years of come-and-go). If any of you guys don’t like Unity/GNOME3 do yourself a favour and check out KDE.

    It really is a great desktop environment. Everything i could want is already installed and i can remove all the bells and whistles and make it very functional. It has options for everything (that you can very easily ignore)

    I still run nm-applet, gpodder and chromium though (and they don’t feel out of place at all)

  6. Tommy Brunn says:

    How the stability? I’m going to try it on my rig as soon as I have the time to install it, so I’ll see for myself pretty soon, but when i tried it a couple of weeks ago, it was crashy crashy.

  7. Andy says:

    I’m really not sure what to do. I currently have 11.04 running on my desktop, but in classic mode. I’m unsure to try Unity in 11.10 or go with KDE and Kubuntu.
    I have Kubuntu 11.04 running on my laptop and it works a treat. I tried Unity (beta) on it but it ran like the fat kid on sports day, and it drove me insane. I prayed that it would get to it and move its flabby ass and become something usable, but alas, no.
    This release may turn out to be a thing of beauty, but will it let me down like the beta did? I love Ubuntu and hate to bash it, but my head tells me to go down the KDE route, while my heart says give Unity one more try.

  8. Tobin says:

    Also with 11.10 – the ability to install Gnome Shell without breaking Unity and/or jumping through hoops. Installing it is a button click in the software center.

  9. frommyip says:

    The onscreen keyboard has different themes.You can change them by running onboard-settings, the dark droid theme is a lot better!The review seems consistent with my experiences so far although i am probably using kde till the next LTS :)

  10. haiyang says:

    I like it.
    11.04 is too much bug!

  11. Sajith Dilshan says:

    Completely agree with you. when I first installed Ubuntu 11.04 back in April, I used Unity for about two weeks and then moved back to classic gnome desktop simply because unity was so amature back then. But now it is a much more developed and a mature desktop environment. I never thought I would ever like unity again, but right now I really love it. Unity FTW

  12. Joe says:

    This review pushed me over the fence on upgrading. I’ve been using XFCE inside of Ubuntu 11.04 because I didn’t quite like Unity. The multi-arch support is important to me and if I don’t like Unity then I can try Gnome 3 without breaking it or go to XFCE.

    If only the download didn’t take so long on release day.

  13. Ray says:

    After such bad comments about specifically Unity I had skipped the last upgrade on the Ubuntu train. Sounds like it is has become a full system that is more fully baked now and similarly probably time for me to give it a whirl. Thanks for the info.

  14. Mike says:

    Nope, Unity is still crap. Gnome-shell is pretty decent though.

  15. Me says:

    Nice review. I’m hopeful that you’ll review it in depth on this week’s LAS. :)

  16. cg says:

    I’m more a fan of Gnome Shell. What did you think of Gnome 3.2 when you tried it?

  17. culebrón says:

    Finally they introduced a scrollbar with enough contrast. But this nonsense with window buttons on the left still continues. What do they think with?! The buttons on the right are just too easy to click instead of the menu. You want the file menu, but accidentally close the window. Go find the app again.

    Looks like UI design, like art, has detached from reality and user needs, and became a self-referential ambient.

    Anyway, this looks usable. Thanks for the screenshots.

  18. Joao says:

    I had a good surprise as well. I normally use the Xubuntu desktop though. But after trying the new Unity experience a bit I think it could replace the Xubuntu desktop a little.

    Just finished installing the new Ubuntu version on a second computer, which happens to be my main. For that matter.

  19. Mohan says:

    Awesome review Bryan!

  20. Esteban says:

    Enjoyed your article. I too, did not like UNITY, so I logged in with Ubuntu classic. But a few months ago I gave Unity another go. And now I love Unity.

    Keep up the good work.

  21. AJ says:

    Thanks Bryan! I too was using Ubuntu 11.04 on a netbook (HP Mini 210) and found Unity buggy and just frustrating. I ended up switching to a GNOME 2 desktop, which works well enough. With such a positive review from you, I’ll check out the 11.10 update as soon as I get home from my trip (updating your OS on the road can be dangerous!).

  22. Nathan Broadbent says:

    OK. You’ve convinced me to give it a go.

  23. bubba jones says:

    unity has come a long ways since 11.04. and it’s very stable now. gnome 3.2 looks beautiful but i’m sticking with unity.

  24. nai says:

    Taskbar on the left. Sorry.

  25. Bob Kovacs says:

    And if you want to try Gnome Shell, you can. Just sudo apt-get gnome-shell, and when you do that, you also get Gnome Classic installed to. Four options to choose from, Gnome fallback get’s installed with Gnome Shell. Plus the Windows key on your keyboard, by default opens up the menu launcher. Nice extra. Great release, same goes for Kubuntu 11.10, with KDE 4.7.1. This was a nice release cycle. Thanks for the review Bryan.

  26. bob says:

    Unity is the best thing ever to happen to Fedora…..

    Ubuntu 10.10 was nearly perfect, 11.04 and 11.10 look and feel like poorly designed cell interfaces.

  27. Calvin says:

    Hey bryan, directed to your site from a google search for the new ubuntu review. I like your positive review as it gives me an ounce of hope to try unity again. Cool site, keep it up!

  28. everyone who is cool says:

    Hello Bryan,

    Thanks for the review. We heart Unity too. Please come back on LAS, we miss you dearly.


    — everyone that matters

  29. ICA says:

    Ah, if only XBMC supported 11.10 …

  30. holysatan84 says:

    Unity seems the way to go forward on Ubuntu.. Looked half baked last time around on natty but then looks a lot better this time round.. Cud’nt wait for the review, already installed and trying to get a first hand look and know if it actually holds good..

  31. prinzzchavo says:

    I pretty much agree even being a Unity user since 11.04 myself…

    Integration with nautilus, thunderbird and some other programs has improved a lot too. Now you get a whole “desktop feeling”…

    …BUT, it takes 250% longer to startup (according to bootchart). Maybe there’s something related to Gnome3 and/or Kernel 3 and/or indexing that is taking it’s time.

  32. David says:

    How is the battery life and consumption on Ubuntu 11.10? I am a bit hesitate to install it until I get good reviews on it’s battery usage. Plus I heard the beta version ate up on a lot of resources.

    Is this all been fixed?

  33. TechBase says:

    Great review! lets see what this one has got to offer

  34. darkduck says:

    I was slightly disappointed in Kubuntu 11.10
    Old issues remained, lots of packages were deprecated with new ones not being full replacement…


  35. Froilan Irizarry says:

    Dude I totally agree.

    Last night I left my Lenovo tablet updating to 11.10, woke up this morning finished the install (had to click a couple of prompts) and when it rebooted…well lets just say I didn’t finish my coffee and got late to work.

    It looks clean and modern, and the icons…..finally a decent icon for the Ubuntu Software Center that doesn’t look like a recycle bin! I’m also very happy and impressed with the usability changes that they made in the Ubuntu menu/section. When I saw that they eliminated that terrible magnifying glass icon for the apps section on the dock bar and integrated it to the Ubuntu menu I got so giddy it was unhealthy.

    Can’t wait to get home and really play with it over the weekend and soon I may just change my work notebook to it from openSuse 11.4 with KDE.

  36. meh says:

    Oh FFS… Ubuntu has multiarch because Debian finally got off their dead ass and implemented a half-baked solution that Red Hat et. al. has had for years.

  37. Rob says:

    I still don’t like Unity. It is better in 11.10, but still not great. Gnome 3 shell is much better – more elegant, easier to use.

    But 11.10 did bring me back to Ubuntu from Fedora (where I went when 11.04 came out). It is a solid release and well worth installing for anyone who is looking for a stable, go-to operating system.

    The problem of Unity (still clunky (not as much as 11.04); still ugly (not as much)) is best solved by sudo apt-get install gnome-shell. Then you can just select Gnome from the login screen and avoid Unity all together.

  38. ubuntu says:

    Really buggy. 10 min of testing:

    1) Launch Nautilus. Click wallpaper with left mouse button. Press CTRL-T. Open tab to background.
    2) ALT-F2. Write gnome-doc. Click gnome text with mouse left key. Graphics clitches.
    3) ALT-F2. Write gnome-doc. Click around with mouse button. Crash.
    4) Poor GNOME 3 integration.

  39. LinuxCanuck says:

    I am not an Ubuntu user, but have spent the past week in Unity and GNOME Shell, principally Unity. Like you, I did not like it at first and unlike you I still do not like it and will stick with Kubuntu 11.10. However, I agree with all of your points. It is much improved.

    There are still some problems. If you want to customise, and what KDE user does not, then you quickly run into problems. OTB it is good, but still nowhere near ready for prime time. Problem one is the global menu and inconsistencies. Google Chrome/ Chromium still does not integrate as expected, but on my system QT and GTK apps do not work the same. Nautilus for example has no buttons and there is no window decorations. To exit I have t use the menu and moving the window is impossible. However, Dolphin looks and works fine. As I said I customised and now it is just plain awful. I did a Unity reset and it did not help. And Nautilus is not the only misbehaving application.

    Unity’s workspaces need more work (intended). I can multi task and spin the Compiz cube, but everything seems to open in the same workspace and I cannot drag windows from one workspace to another. Drag and drop? Forget about it.

    I use KDE. I have 9 Activities with 4 Workspaces on each. That is 36 virtual desktops with each of the 9 activities having different widgets, different wallpaper, different things going on. I can multi task to my heart’s content. I can move windows from one Activity to another and one desktop to another. I can switch activities and/ or desktops with a key press or using my mouse wheel (shift mouse wheel to switch activities). It is complicated but it works simply and beautifully. It runs as fast as Unity (or faster). Oh yes, and drag and drop works because I do not have to worry about shifting focus in the window when there are two windows open and one global menu. Who thought that was a good idea? Or a side Launcher that pops out getting in the way.

    Yes, you are right. It is better and shows much promise, but I am not ready for a paradigm shift on my desktop computer with no touchscreen but large monitor that I can do everything that I want. I will use my Samsung Galaxy SII when I want a touchscreen experience and a dumbed down interface.

  40. Richard says:

    I keep trying to like Unity and even now on Ocelot I still find it awkward to use, I will continue to try and run with it but I think Gnome Shell feels more comfortable.

    I really dislike the whole left centric controls and I dislike how the app launcher keeps getting in the way. Maybe I just was too comfortable with GNOME2

  41. bnwh says:

    will give Unity a go again after reverting to Gnome with 11.04 after reading your well designed review -cheers

  42. Scott Deagan says:

    Thanks – great review. Actually gave me the strength to install 11.10 on my laptop, and boy am I glad I did! Love it!!!

    I went to an 11.10 “release party” here in London last night, was pretty cool. Jono Bacon was there (along with a lot of folks from the Canonical office), and I managed to get some free stuff (a Ubuntu notepad, pen and mouse mat!).

    Bryan… Will you be returning to LAS? What’s the deal there? Hope you guys did not have a fall out!! We love Allan too, but it’s nice to mix it up a little. At the moment it feels like two episodes of TechSnap every week. Perhaps all 3 of you could do LAS?

    LAS just isn’t the same without your intro :(

  43. Marius Butuc says:

    I’m doing a bit of a research on how worth is it for an older Inspiron 1520, 4GB RAM to be upgraded from 11.04 32-bit to 11.10 64-bit instead of 11.10 32-bit.

    That’s how I stumbled upon your article. Special thanks for your “Better 32-bit support on 64-bit systems” section: it shed more inputs on my research. Yeah, it’s an extra help on my decision: seems I’ll switch to 64-bit after all!


  44. Jeff says:

    Cool, I have upgraded to 11.10 already. All sounds good. No complaint

  45. mineralwsr says:

    Good review! I’m thinking of picking Ubuntu for a second OS.

    BTW: Really missing you on LAS :( … I believe everyone will be happy if you return to the show (Yourself incl.) !

  46. Örn says:

    David: I have a Dell Inspiron N5110, and battery life went from a blissful 5 hours plus to an hour and a half. This is with the display at full brightness.

    The touchpad being detected as a PS/2 mouse still hasn’t been fixed (was also a problem in 11.04), but I found a .deb package that fixed it, so I was able to disable tap to click.

    But the real issue is battery life going from ~5:30 to 1:30. That is a dramatic drop. Apparently it’s related to the kernel, and not Ubuntu, per se. The fact still remains that a battery life of 1:30 on a new laptop is appallingly bad. Hold off on upgrading if you think your laptop will be affected.

  47. Nick S says:

    11.10 is the Worst Version Ever.

    my computer is a Lenovo s10

    My mouse freezes, and I have to restart computer every 2 minutes.
    if i shut the lid, the computer does not wake up, and must force shutdown by pressing the power button for 10 seconds.

    I switched to 2d, and still same problems, computer is slow and not responsive.


    I don’t like Ubuntu net-book its very very very slow,

    will switch back to an older version of Ubuntu, or switch to a different OS.

  48. Michael says:

    Ubuntu is really fouling up the brand. When I upgraded to 11.04 I reverted to Gnome right away, Unity is to busy for me. The new version of Gnome on 11.10 is not to my liking either. I went back to 11.04 Ubuntu classic. I am going to look around for a new flavor of Linux, Ubuntu has jumped the shark with 11.10. Stick with an older version of Ubuntu or find a new distro to use.

  49. Arniegeddon says:

    Unity has been kept well away from my desktop but I’m more than happy to give it a spin on my laptop. I hated it on 11.04 and guess what……….I still hate it on 11.10!

    Just to compare it to Gnome2 (or classic Gnome), it’s less responsive, harder to find files, confusing to find application options and see what apps are open.

    I’ll stick with Ubuntu 10.10 on my desktop thank you very much.
    My Arch partition with Gnome-shell runs rings around Unity.

    I do like the switch to lightdm though!

  50. Fallout says:

    Terrible review all your points on unity being useful are not true.

  51. Robert Dexx says:

    Just upgraded to 11.10 on my media PC. It’s a piece of junk – if I wanted a Mac OS, I’d have purchased one.

  52. Boo Boo+ says:

    Unity 11.10 – It SUCKS BIG TIME….

    Noy because the fundamentals of the OS are wrong – No actually some of it is really great…

    But the interface fucks it up totally for me.

    The menu bar on the left side of the screen – and it’s LOCKED into that position???? WTF?

    I prefer MENUS – up front, with full keyboard controls.

    I hate guessing games, having to remember “etherial” linkages between abstract symbols, paths and functions.

    Like since when is a FUNCTIONAL TOOL – the GUI, supposed to be designed by giddy headed clueless interns taking their first bottle of vodka?

    And 11.10 – the interface is a disaster – and it’s a disaster in lock down mode.

    If the moving of the windows controls from the right to the left was a dumb move in 11.04 – 11.10 is an exponential increase on “idiot interface”.

    I do not want journeys of discovery – I want up front controls – AND I want control of my system and it’s settings – and these “art students on acid” – just fucked it up totally.

    They even did a lock down in Ubuntu basic – could not move the menue bar up to the top – so I bailed out of their bullshit and into the XFCE interface.

    (Change settings on start up x 2)

  53. Bijohn says:

    I think 11.10 using more resources…….. May be due to 3D acceleration…… I used to get 3:30 hours battery back up on Dell vostro 3550 while using 11.04. After upgrade it is 2-2:30 hours.

  54. Bijohn says:

    ” I hate ubuntu Unity desktop. It is terrifically confusing………………………. ”

    That is an old story now…. ;)

    My Dell vostro had a graphics issue with 11.04. Upgrade to 11.10, was a good resolution. So I had to stick with 11.10 and unity even if it is using more resources. Spent 2-3 days on unity and

    “Now I am loving it …………………… “

  55. Bijohn says:

    One more think guys……………… Booting time

    Compared to 11.04, 11.10 taking toooooo loooong………………… :(

  56. thetall82 says:

    Here’s another guy who gave KDE 4 a try, pushed by Gnome 3 first and Unity later.
    It’s now 3 months using Kubuntu 11.04 (KDE 4.6) on my home desktop every day and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s solid. I removed some of the bells&whistles and installed some more “soft” themes (white pearl colour scheme + g-remix desktop theme + kfaenza icons) and it looks polish and functional. It still has some “odd” behaviour and some minor bug but it’s really really worth a try in my humble opinion.

  57. kaddy says:

    LoL Did Canonical Pay you to write this garbage? just sayin…..

  58. Robert says:

    I am totally disappointed of UBUNTU 11.10 and looking for some other distribution. Gnome 3 is disaster. Please read this posting:



  59. someone says:

    unity looks cool, sure, but its bloated like a microsoft vista. if you dont have a decent, dedicated video card then dont even bother. speed for lower-end systems has been completely disregarded by the canonical team. yet id wager most linux users are looking for speed and not bloat.

  60. Maccus says:

    Don’t switch to 64bit. The reviewer failed to notice that there is no w32codecs for 64bit. The w64codecs deb contains no codecs. This will leave you unable to play many video formats like ASF/WMV.

  61. Jono Bacon says:

    Glad you like it, Bryan! :-)

  62. Ryan says:

    11.10 is the first Linux distro where I couldn’t wait to get back into Windows.
    It was slow (despite having a fairly powerful PC), encountered far too many crashes (not as many as 11.04) and couldn’t get many programs to work.

    With Unity and gnome Shell being utter failures, distros such as Ubuntu better start looking at spending more time focusing on KDE or some other desktop, because I’m finished with gnome/unity.

  63. ron firebox says:

    What a complete load of nonsense

  64. Jordan says:

    Hey Bryan, I’m glad that we agree on 11.10. I feel smarter as a noob when my initial reaction is the same as someone more knowledgeable like yourself. More customization would be nice and I am getting really annoying bugs in virtualbox under 3D acceleration. I’m forced to use Unity 2D (under virtualbox) but am still very satisfied with it.

  65. Steve Owens says:

    I would just love it if Ubuntu could do a major release without fucking up something major. Last release they screwed up the gnome desktop, this release they have made it so that I can’t read my e-mail using evolution mail any more.

  66. Kevin says:

    Come on, anyone who believes Bryan actually likes 11.10 is mentally deficient. He sells his software (which is really pretty good by the way) on the Ubuntu Software Center. Bryan is crazy, not stupid. He’s not going to bite the hand that feeds.

    For him to say anything negative about Canonical at this point would be downright silly.

  67. Gerardo says:

    I just installed 11.10 and i am as happy as a clam. everything works and even stuff that was not working on 11.04 works now. I even love the sidebar and its hugemungous buttons. :P This release is awesome just simply awesome no issues no coaxing it to work. It gets the job done that winders couldn’t.

  68. Martin says:

    Please, come back to the LAS! A special Brian reviews Ubuntu 10.10 would be great.

  69. Bryan says:

    “Come on, anyone who believes Bryan actually likes 11.10 is mentally deficient. He sells his software (which is really pretty good by the way) on the Ubuntu Software Center. Bryan is crazy, not stupid. He’s not going to bite the hand that feeds.
    For him to say anything negative about Canonical at this point would be downright silly.” – Kevin

    When Ubuntu 11.04 came out I let Canonical have it. I basically straight up told them it sucked in the harshest possible way. I do not mince words.

    And, at that point, I had been selling software through the Ubuntu Software Center for half a year already.

    I sell software through the Mac App Store as well, and you won’t find me holding back my opinions there either. :)

    I tell things like I see them. And I, quite honestly, dig Ubuntu 11.10. I think it is an excellent release.

  70. Eric says:

    Unity would be good if the icons on the side where like Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR). Using the normal categories like Internet, games, photo/video… The switch would have then made me very happy but instead it has made me want to switch to Linux mint.

  71. Dankles says:

    When will you be back on LAS T_T

    You have a great voice for the job, and I love listening to your style of critique and opinions :)

  72. Axure says:


    A tip: The on-screen keyboard app is called Onboard and it’s not really hard to dig out: just type Onboard in the search field in the sidebar launcher. If you want to use it often, you can drag the Onboard icon in the “search result” onto the sidebar.

    Also, the keyboard doesn’t have to be ugly. Once you’ve launched the keyboard, tap / click on the suspiciously empty space on the right of the keyboard and you’ll be able to open its Preferences. There you’ll find a couple of themes, of which at least one is quite nice (Droid).

    On a side note, I must say your review of 11.10 is rather superficial. From my experience, It’s rife with bugs, some of them very obvious, as if it was written by a bunch of sloppy students who don’t bother to test their work thoroughly.

    Just a very simple example: I like to change my desktop backgrounds quite often and I don’t store my wallpapers in the default Pictures folder, but rather on a separate “media” partition. So I go there with the file manager, I open a picture with the default Image Viewer, right click and set it as wallpaper. The funny thing is, it usually works only the first time. If I decide to pick another wallpaper, nothing will happen. So I’ll go to desktop background settings, and there it wrongly shows that the new wallpaper was set. So I’ve found a trick: If i change the wallpaper positioning from Center to Zoom, and then back to Center again, it’s properly refreshed and the new one appears.
    (And it’s not even a new bug, it was the same for months, if not years, in previous releases!)

    Unfortunately, Ubuntu is full off silly stuff like this. And I don’t even bother reporting these bugs, because:
    a) It’s a pain in the ass to report, it’s too complicated.
    b) Canonical simply doesn’t have the manpower to process all the bugs that it’s already getting.

    Not to mention some truly misguided decisions, like putting window resizing buttons (max/min/full) on the left of the window bar. Why would you do that, when you’re targeting the “normal” people, who are supposed to switch from Windows? Mac users are happy with their system, and besides they are a tiny minority of all consumers. So why piss off 95% of your potential constituents? Because you want Ubuntu to look more like Mac OS and thus seem more sophisticated? And at the same time you serve more bugs than Windows Millenium Edition? WTF?

    I really want to like Ubuntu, I’m actually using it as my main OS for 2 months now. But apart from some positive aesthetic changes, its development turns out to be sloppy on every level – from buggy code to idiotic design decisions.

    And it drives me even more crazy, because this system could really be great. Honestly, someone should slap Mark Shuttleworth on the head and tell him to get his act together.

  73. Bryan says:

    “A tip: The on-screen keyboard app is called Onboard and it’s not really hard to dig out: just type Onboard in the search field in the sidebar launcher. If you want to use it often, you can drag the Onboard icon in the “search result” onto the sidebar.” – Axure

    Unfortunately that method is completely un-doable for a purely touch screen system. Thus rendering any tablet type device without easy access to a keyboard.

  74. Axure says:

    True. In that case you need to at least borrow an extension keyboard, say in a store, and set up the shortcut on sidebar.

    What personally irritates me the most, when it comes to touch in Ubuntu, is that I can’t scroll pages in the browser with my finger. (I’m using a 23” touch monitor.) I mean – yeah, there’s the scrollbar, but it’s hard to hit precisely. In Windows 7 I can just put my finger anywhere on the page and drag it, like on the iPad.

    Just one more proof, that thinking in Canonical doesn’t go very far. They’ve announced multi-touch-enabled Ubuntu with much fanfare, and yet it’s pretty much useless.

  75. dotmatrix says:

    LAS is one long borefest without your presence. I hope that you’ll change your mind. Take care and sorry for the off-topic.

  76. D. Smith says:

    I have had a bad experience with Unity. Unity crashes, a lot. I’ve been using Ubuntu since Warty, and I’ve never seen such brittleness in a UI. Also, the whole “It’s all full-screen all the time, baby.” thing is downright dumb. Currently, I have FF and Pidgin open on the same workspace. They both are normalized (not max or min), and if I am using either, I have to go scrambling about in the TOP BAR OF THE WHOLE SCREEN to access MENU items for EITHER. I also fail to understand the notifications that won’t go away, be less conspicuous, nor will they let you interact with them. The sometimes slider tabs are dumb too.
    I have seen closed programs that still have their titles and menu items in the top panel. And what is WITH the whole divots thing? So, there’s one divot if a program is open. If it has a sub-window, there are two divots that occupy the same size as one divot. then there is yet another divot on the opposite side to show you what you are currently using? Who cannot tell what program they are currently using? Why not make the divots more obviously separate? What if your background has divot-like elements in it that show through the side panel?

    From lightbulbs to lawnmowers to computers, if it turns on and you use it, you want to:
    1. Easily start it.
    2. Easily make it do what it does.
    3. Easily tell how and what it is doing.
    4. Easily shut it down.

    Unity does 1.5 of these things at any given time.

  77. longtimeubuntuuser says:

    Unity sucks! No matter how you wrap it up, it sucks. If you are a true Linux user and not one that is all into bling, Unity sucks!
    Did you realize that you have to click through so much crap to get where you need to go to configure something, add something or to just find something?
    It wasn’t that way before Unity.
    I like a desktop client where it shows you what you are looking for up front, not buried under a bunch of layers of crap.. You know, like Windows 7 does?
    To use Unity is to complicate life in general.. Isn’t life complicated enough?

  78. Arniegeddon says:

    Since I can’t get on with Unity I decided I’d install the Lubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu Desktops. Each and every one of them look fantastic and I find each to be more functional than Unity. After each update I do try Unity again but the longer it continues to be awful is a step closer to installing Linux Mint or Pinguy OS on my Desktop.

  79. Paresh says:

    Nice Reviews .. hope its good… i am uninstalling my fedora 15… its no good… video chats doesn’t work n etc. Hope ubuntu doesn’t come with these problems.

  80. ElectricPrism says:

    I can really appreciate that I can try out Ubuntu in VMWare again, 11.04 didn’t boot unity without going to LiveDVD – so the 2D consistency is a big plus.

    Just saw your you tube hour session on linux sucks and I’m glad to hear a “matte of fact” realistic look at linux.

    Its very true that highly specialized skilled developers NEED a secure income to do their job, and its impossible in many advanced software suites to develop a project like GIMP without the financial safety net – ex: GIMP – where 99% users cant contribute code because its so specialized.

    Nice articles.

  81. Fredo says:

    It still has quite a few bugs, though. Give it a little more work, and it’ll be just fine.

  82. Scott Tenney says:

    My first experience of Unity was on 10.10 netbook edition. It was really different from what I’m used to, windows but I got the hang of it. When they introduced 11.04, I immediately upgraded and it was like, hell. The brightness was going haywire and I had problems with sound and videos. When 11.10 came out, I upgraded immediately, and am so thankful of the improvements. I was pondering on switching from Unity but now, it’s actually usable.

  83. spike says:

    The best thing about Unity is that I could uninstall it.
    Unfortunately Gnome3 just weird me out and I cannot for the life of me figure out where the system menu has gone.

    Unity reminds me of Windows Vista…and we all know how well that turned out.

  84. garegin says:

    some1 said that unity was sluggish. it has a lot to do with the x.org drivers. usually intel driver support is great to excellent. i used it on a nvidia chipset the other day and the thing was flying.

  85. Greg says:

    Nobody who uses their computer for real work could find Unity anything but an impediment to productivity.

  86. eri says:

    to bad, ubuntu leave gnome, i love gnome so much…there is so many “hidden configuration” on gnome that i can do…:D (just my 2 cents)

  87. marr says:

    Unity is already pretty good. Keep in mind it is a relatively new project. I think it will rapidly improve, by the time 12.04 is released I am willing to bet that Unity feels snappy and smooth on most machines.

    It took me a little time to get used to the way it felt in 11.04, but after those 6 months, and the 2 or 3 now on 11.10, I have to admit I Love it!

  88. dikonikon says:

    Apparently its tough doing the right thing in a market that is highly outspoken, and yet strangely fond of the status quo.

    I have installed and tried so many distros now on the advice of friends and colleagues, and yet I keep coming back to Ubuntu 11.10, with Unity. It works really well, it’s simple, and doesn’t use up a load screen real estate, mostly it gets out of the way. Why are people so agin it?

  89. joe says:

    I finally upgraded to 11.10 and it is a huge improvement. Love the look of the login screen. Still hate the menu on the top of the screen instead of on each window. Window min/max/close buttons never should have been moved to the left, so I keep hoping that Canonical will see the light and change that back. This feels a lot like a Mac now, but without all the shackles that Apple puts on you. One thing I noticed is that I still can’t run l4d2 at good framerates using steam on wine. Windows is still the best pc gaming platform for now. Looking forward to 12.04.

  90. steve says:

    It is amazing, the anti unity crowd are almost as bad as the apple fanbois. Am surprised by that, I though Linux “people” had a little more open mind. I am with you, I love Unity, I like the first release and love this one. Super review, thanks. I don’t want to read some journal review where a staff writer spent a couple hours nashing around with this release and then declares that it is the salvation of Ubuntu or it sucks so bad you should never download an Ubuntu iso again. Solid review based on long time use. The kind of review that is truly useful for someone who does more than just tweet their computer and play with linux which is what a lot of people do obviously.

  91. Penguin12 says:

    So after first hating Unity and Gnome 3 after RTM I actually started to like both.
    I really started to like Unity. However the following things made me decide to uninstall:

    1. Performance. The normal unity interface ran pretty high CPU (up in the teens and twenties) and Memory (around 400 mb) (*caveat there may have been other things going on to add up to this), nonetheless ,however running unity 2d or gnome 3, they had better performance figures. Running this on a labtop so the less CPU usage the better = better battery life. I think it may have something to with compiz for example.

    2. Zeitgeist is what really put me off. I saw the service running, and looked it up in Synaptic (which I had to install manually, but okay, I can see a use for software center, as Ubuntu is trying to be normal user friendly. From what I understand Zeitgeist is used for filtering of the whatchamachigs, and as such, unity becomes disfunctional without that.

    Other than that, things such as the numbered keys when you press the (Ubuntu) logo key, are really a nice touch. As well as e-mail and chat integration. All in all it has a nice poished look. In the end I settled for gnome 3, as it is quite user friendly, does not require Compiz, and is quick to use. Stil have to figure out how to add a nicer theme though.

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