back to article Natty Narwahl: Ubuntu marine mammal not fully evolved

Canonical has released Ubuntu 11.04, née Natty Narwhal. But this release is not your ordinary update with a handful of new features in the same basic Ubuntu you know and love. No, this marine mammal is an entirely new beast, with the Unity shell replacing everything familiar about the Ubuntu desktop. After a bumpy ride with …


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  1. Greg J Preece

    Kubuntu's no better

    Some nice tweaks in the UI, but it's the random X lockups that are bothering me. Tap the power button to shut down, instant lockup. Leave the machine in standby for 10 minutes, lockup. What the hell, guys.

    And Plymouth is STILL broken, a year after release. It kinda-sorta works on shutdown now, but startup is just as broken as it ever was.

    Might try a fresh install. But if it's still this bad, I might try Mint.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Where's me wifi?

    One of a growing number of dissatisfied users who checked for hardware drivers, found the Broadcom STA driver (no b43 in sight), installed it, pulled the ethernet lead to find no wireless in operation, and no matter which fix had come up on the ubuntu forums, nothing doing. Back to Mint I go.

  3. frank ly

    Exciting Launcher Dock - Ooh, Shiny!

    "The Unity UI lets you drag and drop icons into the launcher/dock, à la Apple's Mac OS X"

    Windows 2000 Pro and Windows XP (and Vista I think) let you have a separate pop-out 'dock' (called a taskbar) on each side of the screen and you can overlay more adjustable taskbars on top of them. An item in a taskbar can be any shortcut you have created and so you can have a folder full of other shortcuts as a 'docked' item, which when clicked effectively opens up a custom 'dashboard'.

    I've been 'driving' my Windows computers for 12 years using pop-out taskbars and was well pissed off when these were removed in Windows 7.

    At the moment, there's nothing I can do with Windows XP that I couldn't do with Windows 2000 Pro (which admittedly needed some extras installed to get full networking magic going), so I'm wondering what OS development is actually doing, at least for the end-user and ordinary domestic consumer.

    I'm not a windows fanboi, I'm a fan of things that work and keep working, like my seven year old Acer laptop running XP.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More than a lock up

    When I restart Natty and boot back into Natty, or into XP or Windows 7, the computer fails at the W7 login, rebooting again makes it worse - the whole system is dead, no BIOS screen, no nothing. The first time it happened I thought I had hardware failure, turns out that physically unplugging the power and letting the power drain from the system is the only way to fix it. That's one problem I can do without. I've never seen anything like it, Natty is beyond "unfinished", it's a liability.

    1. kurkosdr
      Thumb Up

      This is a known problem with old HP BIOSes...

      Does your computer happen to be an HP? Many HP computers had this problem, where you would boot Linux or BSD just fine, shut it down normally, and when you tried to boot it again, it would freeze either at the BIOS password screen of at the BIOS logo screen.

      This a known problem with old HP BIOSes (it's the 'bad state' problem), and has been fixed in the newest versions. Just upgrade to the latest BIOS version for your model (you can find it at hp's site at the support and drivers section), and it will be fixed.

      For example, mine's problem was fixed when I went from version F.11 to F.1A...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's never never an HP

        Thanks for the tip but it's a Dell, with the latest BIOS. Hasn't been updated in a couple of years though so it could still be this "bad state" problem, maybe they use the same parts. I haven't seen anyone else reporting this bug, for the meantime I'll rollback to 10.10. Shame, I quite like this new interface despite the niggly bits.

  5. neek

    Disabling overlay scrollbars

    I don't often get my 'tard on, but I did a brief google and turned up this tip for disabling the popup/popdown/popaway scroll bars:

    I can only presume it works. Me, I'm sticking with Fedora, but good luck to the rest of you :) I still recommend Ubuntu to my less geeky friends.

    1. DrXym

      Needs a config dialog

      Things like the unified menu and some of the more esoteric features of the new shell such as scrollbars need to have a config dialog. Even if the settings only come into effect when the person logs out and back in.

      Even a desktop that supposedly "just works" such as OS X offers a fair degree of configuration (often implemented after bitter criticism). Any desktop which offers less than OS X really needs to get its act together and provide a config dialog. Hacks will do for a short time, but ultimately it has to be a dialog. I'd argue it shouldn't even wait for 11.10. Do it now.

      1. Oninoshiko

        but it's not just that, DrXym

        It's also a matter of sane defaults. The author is right, hide-away scroll-bars are counter-intuitive. So while reasonable as an option, (in a well designed GUI control, TYVM), even making it the default is insane.

        Someone needs to introduce the Ubuntu team to the law of least astonishment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Law of Least Astonishment

          Sounds remarkably similar to the "Law of least amazement."

          Open source advocates may be a tech cut above the average, but there is a reason the media is abuzz with the term "post PC device." and it's because the PC with a filing system and command line fully on show is only applicable to a very small percentage of users (as much as we may dislike that fact and wish it were otherwise).

          As anal as I am with my computing, I tend to be a bit messy around my house. When you are a messy person, you stop seeing the mess. You tune it out from your perception. So things that have been out on that sideboard, stay out even though they should be tidied away and you stop seeing the some of the things that are out as mess. Recently I've realized this happens to a large degree with OS's. This has been Microsoft's problem. There are paradigms we get used to and we stop seeing the rough edges. Like the fact, on Windows, you can open a mail attachment, forget you have done it and then save your modifications to a temporary file that will (for the average user) get lost in the Ether. For the average Joe, doing this could be not just a little frustrating ( as I witnessed last week, as it happens, for a friend's daughter working on a dissertation for her finals - it was a major disaster).

          What am I saying here? "The law of least astonishment" can easily become "the law of least amazement", which in turn can become "the law of leave the mess it as it is." but actually, as it is, has all too often been totally incomprehensible for the average user. Of course I'm not equating Linux to Windows, but I am pointing out that Ubuntu is at least pushing out to a new constuency and sticking with keeping the techie community satisfied isn't going to result in innovative and bold rationalized design.

          Mark Shuttleworth sees the value of the "post PC" attitude to design (as much as we may hate that term) Do we want Ubuntu/Linux to remain "our thing" or do we want a wider constituency to appreciate it's benefits? If the latter we have to be prepared to let go of the notion the average Joe just needs to understand the advantage of being technically proficient, and accept that if the average Joe is going to get on board "the law of leave it as it is" can't be allowed to constrain.

          I'm not saying widening the constiuency is the right future to aim at. In all honesty, I don't know. I'm just pointing out this is the heart of the dilemma for Ubuntu. Is there any practical feasibility in the notion of an Open Source OS that is developed to satisfy the needs of a wider constituency than the community of engineers developing it as "their thing." ? Can an Open Source OS be developed to aim at features that draw more people in who are not going to be contributors to the development effort? Is this asking for a level of altruism too far beyond the already altruistic ideals of the development community? I don't know.

  6. Mark 65

    Give it a miss?

    "Unity has potential, but it's tough to escape the feeling that it just isn't ready yet. Ubuntu's drive to bring something radically new to the Linux desktop just might work in the long run, but unless you want to come along for all the bumps along the way, we suggest skipping Ubuntu 11.04 and waiting for something more fully baked to emerge."

    Could you not just login to a classic Gnome 2 desktop instead?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Gnome 2 instead...

      Indeed you can, and it's the only way to regain sanity. But having done that, you are still left with:

      - the ridiculous sometimes-they-do-and-sometimes-they-don't scroll bars (which idiot though it was a good idea to lose the 'click in the area above/below the thumb' page movement capability?),

      - random failures to redraw chunks of application windows,

      - notification messages that don't do anything really useful (I click on a 'new message' notification and instead of doing something useful simply fades away until you release the mouse... would switching to the mail application really be so difficult?

      - a music player application that is totally useless for anyone just wants to play the bloody album from start to finish, and as a result has his music arranged in folders by artist and album (Exaile seems to work in this respect, though not as well as it could)

      - and a general lack of snappiness in the drawing of screens and starting applications.

      At least I found - eventually - a flag to put the buttons on Firefox above the tabs, where they belong.

      Having ploughed through the mess that is 11.04 for the last month, I've just downloaded the LTS 10.04 again. I'll have another look in six months or a year.

      1. rdeleonp

        LTS is where it's at...

        I previously messed around with non-LTS versions of Ubuntu, but they where *always* ridden with boatloads of bugs.

        Stick with LTS, it's *worlds* more stable.

        My 0.02 ...

    2. Seano

      Yes you can

      "Could you not just login to a classic Gnome 2 desktop instead?"

      Yes you can and very simply, just like you can with the Netbook edition of the previous release.

      But then bashing something has greater dramatic effect if the tone of the editorial is such that it appears you have no alternative.

      <posted from a Netbook running UNE 10.10 without Unity>

      1. Charles Manning

        Fanboi lost his logic?

        "But then bashing something has greater dramatic effect if the tone of the editorial is such that it appears you have no alternative."

        He was bashing Unity because it is crap and not ready.

        Saying Unity is fine because you can replace it with classic gnome would seem as daft as saying Windows Vista is fine because you can replace it with XP.

  7. jake Silver badge


    I want my OS to disappear into the background as I do useful work, not be a toy that is an end unto itself. Now ask me why I run Slackware, and have for over a decade and a half.

    Try it. You might like it.

    1. Alain


      Been using it since its v3.0, however I was extremely frustrated to see that it has fallen for KDE4 as well. I hate its uncumbered UI. I probably want to give Xfce a try someday, but for the time being it's Centos 5 with KDE3 for me.

    2. david bates

      Mine disappeared...


      I foolishly let Kubuntu update itself...back to the command line :(

      Luckily that machine is basically used as a network device, so I'll reinstall Maverick rather than fiddle about.

  8. Adair Silver badge

    I've already done the deed...

    ...and jumped ship---to Arch Linux. The initial setup is a bit of a faff, and definitely not friendly to anyone who wants everything to 'just work', but the sense of relief that I'm back in charge of the system makes it all worthwhile.

    Ubuntu was great while it lasted, but I think we've reached a fork in the road.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I couldn't agree more...

      As an IT-support company, we have been easily switching people (and companies) to using Linux in about five-minutes with Ubuntu 10.04 (after we set the systems up for them). And, they have loved it. However, with Ubuntu 11 Canonical has pretty much utterly-completely-and-irreveocably-KILLED the most popular version of Linux... eliminating everything, that made it a great alternative to Windows(tm)... Good job!

    2. Uwe Dippel

      And where do you go tomorrow?

      Shortsighted that is. Where does Arch get their updates for Gnome 2 from? It is code in maintenance state, and some time it will be unsupported.

  9. Mike Wilson
    Thumb Down


    I ended up dual booting between Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10, one would talk to my WiFi router but not plan video, the other would play video but not talk to my WiFi router. Gone are the days when I would spend a weekend sorting problems like that -- I have better things to do with my time. I finally gave up on Ubuntu yesterday and installed openSUSE which just works. I won't be installing 11.04.

    1. Chemist


      Well said - never a moment's problem (running on 6 quite different machines here)

      1. Robert E A Harvey


        I'm a very satisfied openSuse user too, although I have Ubuntu as well. There has been something of a see-saw in my affections. But I am now regretting choosing Ubuntu 10.04LTS as my server OS, since there are long-standing unfixed bugs on important (to me) parts of it:

        perhaps it is time to investigate centOS ?

    2. Greg J Preece


      I am also considering OpenSUSE. I ran it for a very short period on one of my machines, as it got working official ATI support before Ubuntu, but I'm just so used to my Debian/Aptitude environments that I'm more productive on Kubuntu, so when that got support I installed Maverick.

      Might be time to give SUSE another try. I'll be keeping Ubuntu Server on my development rig though. No matter how they try to cock up their desktop spins, their server release has never let me down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton


        OpenSUSE is still my main Linux OS. Ubuntu is starting to become irrelevant TBH

  10. Len Goddard

    time to change flavour

    I've been using windows since it was an overlay for MS-DOS and linux since you installed it from a stack of floppies, so my expectation of where the menu bar, scroll bar and min/max/close buttons are to be found is more or less burned into my nervous system. The last thing I want is a major change of interface, especially since I need to use both linux and windows. If I stay with 'buntu I'll be moving to Xumuntu or possibly even Lubuntu.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    It seems ubuntu is now doing it's best to mimic OS X. Quite sad. The notification area icons are almost identical, the whole dock thing is a poorly implemented copy, the "global menus" are a copied idea etc. All in the name of "usability" well I personally found it a lot less productive.

    Seems the only chance to still use ubuntu properly with a recognisable UI will be mint, they've stated they're not switching to gnome shell, or unity.

    1. DrXym

      Global menus etc

      I think Unity is perfect for netbooks where space is at a premium. In a netbook it probably makes sense to have a single global menu since it removes a pile of clutter. It's probably easier to "find" the menu too with a quick swipe on a touchpad.

      The problem is not everyone uses a netbook and as the screen size increases, the global menu becomes increasingly annoying. I could have two apps side by side and want to open the menu of the second app. In the traditional way I could just move a short distance with the mouse and click straight on the menu I want within window, move down and click the item. In the new model I have click the window, wait for the menus to flip, locate the sub menu I want, move my mouse up to the top, click, move it back down again and finally select.

      It's just more hassle and really doesn't help me at all. Maybe it's not a big deal for Mac users who are unused to more sensible windows on menus, but it sucks for everyone else.

      Put simply, it should be a switch. Cater for people who like it one way due to their background / device and the other. I assume since the global menu is retrofitted and is disabled for "classic" ubuntu that it's little more than an environment variable.

  12. Ian 55

    The downside of six month updates

    You may not get enough time to actually, you know, get it right before the calendar says you have to release it.

    I run Mint, so I'm not directly affected by this, but various other PCs here do various flavours of Ubuntu (Edu for the youngest, Studio for the teenager) and I can hear the moans coming already.

    What's a bit annoying is the six months updates is that unless you're running 10.04 LTS, you will have to spend time upgrading to this if you want 11.10.

  13. amehaye
    Jobs Halo

    Not to mention the notification popups

    Fully opaque until you mouse over, then they become transparent. And not clickable, either way. Not a bug, of course, but a 'feature'. This non-feature has been with us since at least Ubuntu 10.10.

    Look, I have no problem with 'borrowing' the UI from more polished OSes. But at least do it right.

  14. Rattus Rattus


    I tried out Unity on my netbook for a while. God it sucked, I've gone back to Gnome 2. I don't like Gnome 3 so far, and I don't like KDE. I guess for my next desktop I'll either return to a shell window or I might try Enlightenment again.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Enlightenment FTW

      Definitely the way to go - Bodhi is a good example of what E17 can do when paired with (minimal) Ubuntu:

    2. sisk

      Enlightenment is good

      I ran Enlightenment for a while, but I ended up going back to Fluxbox because eye candy drives me bonkers. If you don't mind eye candy though it's a very fine environment.

  15. Bassey

    Music Problems

    I've actually got quite used to it and I'm liking large bits of it. The workspaces work quite well. It does actually make me think a widescreen monitor might be nice - something I've never considered with Windows where vertical resolution is more important and makes widescreen monitors look daft. Two problems though; everyone goes on about how Unity is optimised for keyboard shortcuts - but the interface makes no attempt to guide you towards them. If you hadn't read the reviews telling you they were there how would you ever know to go and hunt them down?

    The second is Banshee. What a dreadful music player. I have a relatively small music collection (few thousand tracks, just over 20GB) but it just hangs constantly. If I remove the music folders and just play tracks it is fine so it's clearly a problem with how Banshee handles the collection. So I've switched back to Amarok for now.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Xubuntu 11.04 quite nice

    The directions of both gnome shell and unity don't feel like thr right direction for me, and my laptop's wireless works best with Ubuntu. As XFCE 4.8 has now been released, I went for Xubuntu 11.04, and it's really good. Fast, and configurable, and works the way I want rather than the way some "research" tells me I want to work. The only minor annoyance is that I prefer single-clicking to execute, and that's not possible on the desktop, though it does work in the file manager.

    Installation was good and quick too. Quick install, add ubuntu-restricted-extras, epiphany, radiotray (wonderful) gthumb, vym and zim and I was away. Canonical has not monkeyed with Libreoffice the way they did with OpenOffice, so the vital Zotero citation manager works for me. My one concession to non-Free software, WritersCafe, went in quickly and easily as the .deb file Julian Smart makes available.


  17. Neal 5

    Progress without change.

    Novel idea, why hasn't that ever caught on before. Ok not every change is for the better, but if you don't try, you'll never know, all the negatives today will possible be all positives next year. Still, I guess nobody's happy until they've someone or something to slag off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That's what research & development cycles are for. That's where you try, that's where you gauge reaction and make a decision on whether to proceed with the actual 'change'. In this case Cannonical have just shoved it out the door pretty much regardless of whether people like it or not and what condition it was in.

      But to be honest anybody with any sense knew this was coming with Ubuntu. At some point or another Shuttleworth's vision / ego was always going to take precedence over what people actually want.

      1. Svantevid

        @AC 02.05.2011 16:35

        "Cannonical have just shoved it out the door pretty much regardless of whether people like it or not and what condition it was in."


        Do be fair, AC, you can always choose to use GNOME in this version of Ubuntu.

        And with tens of thousands of people using Unity, the next version should have most of the irritating/malfunctioning problems sorted... hopefully. Ask me in November how do I like Ubuntu 11.10. :-)


        One of good things about Linux: you can always switch distros.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    I'm cured!!!

    I've been a Ubuntu fanboy since 2007.

    This latest abomination has cured me! Time to try Slackware or something, I think.

    (Mine's the one with the copy of 'Which Linux?' in the pocket...

    1. Cameron Colley

      You could try Debian.

      I got fed up with a couple of choices made by Canonical a few releases ago -- one was to use Pulse Audio and the others I forget. So, I decided to give Debian a go. I'm not saying it's the best distro, as that's a personal thing, but since Debian is what Ubuntu is based on you'll find it more familiar than most other distro's.

      That said, if you're not as lazy as me then learning about other distro's will be time well spent I'm sure.

  19. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "New" gimmicks?

    "For example, you can simply hover your mouse over the volume indicator and use the scrollwheel to adjust the volume without ever actually clicking anything."

    My KDE3 has done that for years. Nothing new there.

    Dockable and pop-up task bars? Did that on the Amiga 1200 many, many years ago.

    Moving the main window menu to the global task bar? Feels very counter-intuitive to me.

    Fortunately, I'm not a die-hard Ubuntu user so I can look at it and play with it without worrying if I'm going to like it or end up being "forced" down that path. I'll stick with FreeBSD and KDE3 for now :-)

  20. Keith 20


    I'm underwhelmed by Unity either way, just another GUI .. but i'm very annoyed with the wireless on my trusty eee 901 not working again!

  21. djiock

    objective taste

    But... But... Overlay scrollbars are just BRILLIANT ! How can anyone dislike it ? :)

  22. Richard Lloyd

    Failed to install 11.04...

    Just tried to install 11.04 this morning and here's a quick rundown of my failed experience:

    * ATI blank screen bug (also in recent Fedoras) not fixed for 2 years now - for my Radeon HD4290, had to put "nomodeset" in the kernel command line.

    * Open up a terminal window in the installer and the (traditional) scroll bar button is virtually invisible because it's pretty well the same colour as the rest of the scroll bar - UI fail there.

    * If you customise your partitions like I do, you can't actually manually specify a mount point (you can only use a pop-up listr of fixed mount points like /, /home and so on) - terrible!

    * The migration utility failed on my setup, whether I picked a distro to migration files from or not - it couldn't umount a partition (several partitions had all been mounted on /target it seems).

    * When the migration utility failed, it claimed it would continue, but that was a lie - it actually incredibly skipped the installation of files into /boot and the modification of the MBR. Massively epic fail there.

    So that's a epic fail upon epic fail, resulting in an unbootable 11.04. Geniuses not at work, methinks.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You are not alone

      Exactly the same happened to me.

      Its an epic fail -- spent most of the weekend putting back 10.04.

      Fortunately I have a separate /home partition but the inconvenience was massive.

      What were they THINKING?

      1. Svantevid

        @ Craiggy

        "Its an epic fail -- spent most of the weekend putting back 10.04. (...) What were they THINKING?"


        No disrespect intended, but what were you thinking? :-)

        With hindsight (or - in my case - a healthy dose of paranoia) it's probably obvious to you by now you should have downloaded a live CD and test the system.

    2. BatCat

      Failed upgrade / install on Lenovo W500

      I was successfully running 10.10 on my Lenovo W500. Ran the automated upgrade and now fails to boot. Tried booting from a USB (should have probably tried that first LOL) and again failed to boot. Errors pointing to some kind of graphics hardware compatibility issue.

      Just glad I wasn't using it for anything serious - if I was I'd have tested it first of course ;o)

      Back to 10.10 for me...

  23. Conor Turton

    This is why I stick to LTS

    I worked out ages ago that the only way to get the best out of Ubuntu is to stick to the LTS. All other interim releases are rushed out to meet what I feel is a stupid deadline. I treat them in effect as BETAs for the next LTS release.

    As for the comments about apeing Mac OS X, I would say Gnome did that more than Unity and Unity is some kind of bastard child of Mac OS X and Windows 7 UI elements whilst adding things in an attempt to make it look like it isn't.

    Also there's a well reported power management issue for both desktops and laptops which still isn't fixed as its a mainstream kernel issue.

    Its a shame that with every new release of Ubuntu they always seem to break something important which worked before.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Absolutely agree ...

      ... not sure why you got downvoted, it seems a very sensible approach. Not saying that it is the upgraders' fault that the non-LTS releases are so flakey - that's Canonical's fault. If I want fancy UI elements on my LTS installs I add them under my own control - like the Cairo Dock.

      Furthermore I almost never upgrade OS. I take a fresh machine (often a fresh virtual machine for a newish release) and try it out there. I would also never run the risk of breaking a working machine by repartitioning and converting to dual boot: you can always just pick up a small idle hard disk salvaged from an old machine, swap it in and try your hardware with the new OS.

      Canonical have not just released a not-quite-ready OS, they are guilty of making it look like the upgrade is straightforward. (Note, whenever installing Ubuntu for friends and family I always switch off distribution upgrade notifications - at least nonLTS distro upgrades).

      I prefer to be pessimistic and then pleasantly surprised, rather than optimistic and horribly disappointed. But, although years of experience has given me this attitude I do not for one minute blame those who have tried the optimistic approach and lost out - I know that horrible sinking feeling too well to be able to gloat, even if I wanted to.

  24. Adrian Challinor

    Personal preference does not equal broken

    I suggest that the author gets off his high horse, looks for a bit of assistance, and reverts to the previous version of Ubuntu. And he could always try READING THE RELEASE NOTES!

    Just because YOU don't like something does not make it broken, the worst there has ever been, or under developed.

    I will grant that it is different. But it doesn't seem to be broken.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    On the surface, Unity looks good

    How, exactly?

    On the surface, it looks like a Fisher Price toy, but is much, much harder to find one's way around. The scroll bars *work* in the sense that they scroll, but not in the sense that they make life easier. The global menu (the first thing to get zapped on my machine) *works* in the sense that if you click on it, things happen, but not in the sense of being convenient, which it isn't.

    But... instead of *just* winging, yes, I'm sorting out how to make 11.04 work with Gnome 2, Compiz (cube'n'all) and all that *nice* stuff from 10.04. So far, considering I'm working in a VirtualBox VM, with moot hardware 3D support, I'm doing quite nicely.

    Oh, last time I logged out, it killed my entire system. No idea if U.11.04 was responsible, or VirtualBox (or maybe the ATI hardware drivers) but pressing the reset button is not something one should have to do on a Unix or Unix-related machine.

    I'm retired. I'm messing around with this just for fun --- thank god!

  26. Matt Bucknall

    Fun whilst it lasted...

    ...but next time I'm between projects, I'm going back to Fedora. Bye for now, I might come visit in a few years.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Welcome on board, to Mike and others who will doubtless follow on the openSUSE bandwagon, if they have any sense.

    It may not be hip, trendy, or even "exciting". But on the whole it just gets on with the job, and has done for years, quietly and without fuss from the trendsetters in the media and elsewhere.

    Have a lot of fun.

    And hope it lasts a while longer, post Novell.

  28. SilverWave

    Almost Tempted off 10.04 Very Impressed.

    I have promised myself that as 10.04 is great and rock solid, that I would stick with it until the next LTS release...

    I have tried 11.04 in a VM and TBH I am very tempted...

    ...very surprised that it is so usable so early in the development process...

    ...all the 6 month releases are polished Beta's until the next LTS release after all.

    10.04 Gold

    10.10 Beta1

    11.04 Beta2

    11:10 Beta3

    12:04 Gold

    Sod it I'll wait its only a year.

    1. SilverWave

      Ubuntu Natty Narwhal 11.04: Stunning and Beautiful.

      yeah I went for it LOL

  29. Lord_Carrots

    Great Journalism

    So let me get this right, this is a bad release of ubuntu because:

    1. The scroll bars have been removed

    2. Because there was no RC it "feels unfinished."

    There's an objective and professionally written review.

    Having used it every day since the 1st beta on two different machines, I couldn't disagree more. I've not found any problem in "day to day" use which would suggest it isn't ready. Isn't ready for what, exactly?

  30. Hyphen

    Stay or Leave?


    I don't like interface changes. I really, REALLY don't like interface changes.

    I used to be a solid KDE man until KDE4 came out, when I begrudgingly moved to Gnome. Been happy with that for years.

    WHY OH WHY is everyone in the habit of "reinventing" UIs? Vista. KDE4. Unity. Gnome 3. MS Office 2007. Is there anything I can just stay and be happy with?! Srsly, changing a well known interface just makes life DIFFICULT for people.

    So what's left? Keep this 10.10 installation going forever more? Move to a different (preferaby semi-intuitive and bug-free) UI and re-learn everything anyway, just to be told in 24 months' time that they're changing that as well?

    1. scribbly

      Try something different? ...really just an old friend

      After not exactly liking where Ubuntu HAD been heading over the last few releases with its 'improvements' and schemes, I tried the first Natty BETA and...headed for the hills...or should that be Minty Fields....

      As a graphic/web designer and 'power user', I had also regularly sampled Fedora and SUSE, but found support a little lacking, at least definitely not as much as available for Ubuntu.

      A bit of a leap of faith and some googling later(nomodeset on ATI Mobility 1600) and Linux Mint Debian Edition(LMDE) was installed, updated and purring away.

      As someone who basically liked the look&feel of XP(and gnome), likes a LITTLE bling(but not in your face) and could not get to like KDE, LMDE, to me, is 'just nice'...subtle colour scheme, 'modern, minimalist' icons, window borders you can actually grab to resize and a different, usable menu with everything important at hand(which you can disable if you really don't like it)

      ...and boy does it perform...I don't think I have seen mainstream Linux(Ubuntu SEEMS to get slower with every release) so spritely in a good number of years. Network(&USB) access is approx 30-40% faster(copying large downloads to a Media Center), faster screen refreshes, gnome just works&quickly, flash works better, and high loading does not seem to be as much of a problem as Ubuntu...all on the same hardware.

      ...AND, as Ubuntu is based on Debian, most of the huge volume of Ubuntu community contributions(forums, fixes etc) work well....almost too good to be true! ;->

      I would be lying to say it was perfect...some 'nice' things are missing(but probably expected shortly), it needed a LITTLE more configuration, and a rolling, bleeding edge release can be problematic(googling for answers found Ubuntu suffering similar issues) at times, but Linux is FUN AGAIN! ...and there seems to be a substantial community growing up around it, on top of what is a available for Ubuntu.

      If you want SAFE, try Linux Mint, if you want FUN, try Linux Mint Debian Edition.

  31. E-Penguin
    Thumb Up

    well I don't think it's all that bad...

    Just upgraded to 11.04, with the Unity interface, and it seems nice enough. Definitely an improvement on the beta, with the non-hideable launcher bar. If I want to do much more than surf the interwebs I just go into bash and type stuff anyway...

    I particularly like the way it handles maximised windows on my netbook, putting the close/minimise/maximise gadgets up at the top, saving precious screen space.

  32. Rambo Tribble

    Hey, any old timers out there ...

    ... who remember when Linux was more stable than Windows?

    1. sisk

      Yeah. It was today.

      Ubuntu has always been shaky by Linux standards. What I've been hearing about Narwahl's stability oddly reminds me of when I first tried Ubuntu many years ago. It was dodgy then to. Don't go judging the stability Linux based on a distro that's always put appearance above function.

      And yes, I realize my title is unfair. It's not that Linux is less stable than it used to be but because Windows is more so. It's not quite up to the stability of Linux yet (I've seen a system stay up and stable after the system drive died, a trick that I sincerly doubt Windows will ever replicate) but it's a whole lot closer than it used to be.

  33. AlexV

    Just because Apple do it, doesn't make it right

    Global menus are very silly indeed. If you're only dealing with one window at a time (like on a netbook), have it maximized. No need for a global menu, the window menu is already the only one you see, and is at the top of the screen.

    If you have a decent sized screen, and showing multiple non-maximized windows, why would you want to move the mouse away from the window you are interacting with in order to get at its menu? Even worse, if the window isn't active, you can't even see the menu, and to click on it you have to go first to the window, then back out to the menu bar. Madness.

    I wouldn't expect any other part of the application UI to change dependent on which the active window was, I don't see what makes menus so special. If you're going that way, why not the close/min/max buttons too? Or the toolbar? Or tabs?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your article is a joke, not intended to be taken seriously, right?

    You are advising people to skip Natty and list the reason as being because scrollbars are hidden?

    I've had no problems with the new scrollbars. And for folks that don't have new hardware they can run unity 2D or classic GNOME 2.x.

    After finishing your article, I'm left trying to figure out what's so messed up about 11.04, as you keep arguing.

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      I confess to getting frustrated with the scroll bar thingy for a bit, but it is much more of a problem for people with less-than-perfect eyesight and hand-eye co-ordination.

      That said, I welcome real innovation in this new post-XP world of varying choices.

      And I'm not sure that all of M$'s eye candy has been thought out enough for people with certain types of visual problems.

      There are a dozen desktops to choose from in this world, so I agree that fighting flamewars over them is a waste of time.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evolution vs revolution

    Like others here I think change should be evolutionary not revolutionary. Improvements made, new ideas implemented, but only when they are complete and functional. I dumped KDE for Gnome when KDE 4 came out and dumped Ubuntu returning to Fedora when Canonical started messing with the UI wanting to be more like OS/X (I didn't like the strategic direction they were taking).

    Likewise for Wayland vs X. Wayland, as I understand it, can host X, but if you want to push it across a network you need to sceen-scrape in a VNC-ish sort of way. X, for all its clumsiness is doing a fine job. When it was introduced streaming video was unheard of, yet it can handle video quite nicely. I dread the day "they" replace X with Wayland.

    IN general when you use something new and go "WOW, this is great", that is a well thought out product. When you use something new and have to fight it at every turn just to get any work done, that is not a well thought out product.

    1. Gian

      ... Nokia

      Nokia tempted an evolutionary path to his mobile OS, I don't even remember the name

  36. jonobacon


    Caveat: I work for Canonical and the Ubuntu Community Manager, so I understand if some folks think I am a little biased, but these thoughts are my own and not those of my employer. Take with as many pinches of salt as you like. :-)

    Before I became a community manager, I used to be a journalist, and I used to do reviews of software too. Reviews are always complex beasts, and it is tough to get a good balance between the goals of the application, how well it performs, and what my recommendation would be to my readers. I see the responsibility of the reviewer to balance the needs of the readers with the capabilities/deficiencies of the software I am reviewing. As I read your review I was constantly thinking how I would approach the review myself, if I had not been a member of the Ubuntu Platform Management team.

    I can't help but feel that the review doesn't particularly represent the needs of potential users of the product as well as it could. Ubuntu 11.04 is designed for a mixture of end-users, consumers, enterprise users and enthusiasts. It has a strong focus on usability and great design, and it's goal is to provide a simple and predictable user experience. Unity is a key component in that goal, and admittedly, it was a ballsy move for us to ship Unity in 11.04.

    Your review seemed to highlight a few core themes - Unity shows promise, but it is buggy, the scrollbars suck and the lack of an RC made it feel a bit shonky and unfinished. While no-one is going to doubt that there are still some bugs in Unity - it is a new release, and generally .0 versions always have some bugs, your review didn't really go into detail about how well it serves the needs of end-users. How well does it let you discover and load apps? How well does it let you find your files? How does the experience differ from the Ubuntu 10.10 experience? How well does it perform on desktop machines as compared to netbooks and with different graphics cards? How well does Unity perform for common tasks for most users - creating documents, finding and loading files, watching videos etc. How does Ubuntu 11.04 compare to other Linux desktop distros (e.g. Fedora / OpenSuSE / Debian) and how does it compare to Windows and Mac OS X? I am not saying your review or your conclusions is and are wrong, it is of course your own perspective, but it feels incomplete and presenting readers with a good range of content that explains how well Ubuntu 11.04 does and does not serve their needs.

    As for the scrollbars, I agree that the lack of consistency across all apps is less than desirable, but I also don't really think it is that big of a is a scroll bar. The lack of consistency doesn't inhibit the experience and is highly learnable in a short period of time and t I think that when people are used to them it does provide a cleaner experience with less chrome in the way of apps and their content. In a nutshell I just don't see why the scrollbars needed quite so much content in your review - I just don't think they are that big of a deal. :-)

    Finally, in terms of the lack of an RC, this really doesn't bear that much in terms of the final quality of the product - whether it is called a Beta 2 or an RC doesn't fundamentally change the core quality process that goes into each release - the same engineering team, release team, and management are keeping an eye on things - the Beta 2 was added mainly because we did expect more bug-fixing and an RC would not have been an accurate description.

    Thanks for the review and it was an interesting read, I just didn't feel it represented the product fully and the needs it serves for our users - I am not saying that a more detailed review would change your may end up with exactly the same conclusion...but a more exhaustive review would make me feel like the final conclusion had more weight and credibility behind it.

    Just some feedback.



    1. tardigrade

      Can you hear me at the back?

      Jono. Scrollbars are only an issue because you've gone and buggered them up. Am I the only one that can see how a change in this direction could have been implemented much more successfully? No of course not. So the fact that they have been so comprehensively borked makes it quite an issue when it never should be.

      Yes new releases have bugs. Having used ubuntu since Dapper believe me we are well aware of this fact. However nothing could prepare me for a bug as large as Unity. It's not ready for the desktop by at least 12 possibly 18 months and this has been obvious for some time. Usable on a Netbook yes, but horrible on a 24" screen desktop. NO consideration for this has been given at all and that grates. Unity looks like a "Fisherprice My First Computer" because it's been rushed due to Marks single mindedness. It's split the community down the middle, because you're not listening. Unity doesn't make my life easier. It takes away everything that just worked and adds abstraction. Again I can't be the only one who can see how launching applications not in the dock could be made vastly more intuitive and immediate, as opposed to the jumble that the application lens throws at me.

      The "Growl" notification system is a daily frustration. As I am writing this growl tells me that I have 1 New Message. It ought to tell me who the message is from and the subject line so that I can decide quickly whether to stop typing and click on the notification to open Evolution or ignore it. But it doesn't and I can't even click on the damn thing anyway, not even to dismiss it and I have no option over this. The reason being because Mark thinks this is good for me. It's not. He's wrong.

      The global menu is fine on a 10" nettop where everything runs maximised but it doesn't work on a large screen. It's pointless. Frustrating and senseless. Just because Apple do it, doesn't mean it's automatically right.

      I love everything that Canonical have done for a long time to make a Linux distribution that has become a real alternative to Windows. My 10.04 desktop has everything the way I want it and I would never go back to Windows. But there is a single mindedness creeping in to some of the latest development changes that is very ugly.

      It doesn't surprise me that you chose to use your post to question the authors reviewing technique rather that answer some of the criticisms, because Canonical haven't been listening for a while. It's the small things like these and the big mistakes like Unity that will continue to divide the community and ultimately result in you slowly waving goodbye to the installed user base. Considering what Canonical have achieved over the years with ubuntu, that would be a crying shame.

    2. jake Silver badge

      jonobacon writes: "I am a little biased"

      Uh, gee, you think?

      Spin doesn't work here; I'll stick with what works. And has worked, for a decade and a half on the desktop (Slackware) and about a third of a century on the servers (BSD).

      Change for change's sake is only acceptable if you are in marketing; engineers know better.

      Stamp your feet & take your toys home with you if you like, but that's my take on it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      There's a case to made for familarity...

      You've gone out on a limb here to bring something vastly different to how people are used to working.

      I'm tempted to say that's a little arrogant, but that would be wrong. I think we can all understand some of the reasons for Unity, but to break the familiarity cycle in such a dramatic way is ... counter productive.

      It's one of the reasons why changes to the Mac desktop are gradual.

      The same would apply to the windows desktop.

      An end-user can jump several 'releases' and *still* feel at home.

      Heck, you could go from Windows 95 to Windows 7 and be able to use it pretty much immediately.

      What you've done is simply going to confuse, irritate and annoy Ubuntu users.

      Yep, we can simply install another Desktop, however, it's clear that all the effort in terms of Desktop development is going to be poured into Unity. One of the reasons I switched to Ubuntu many years back, was because you presented a polished Gnome desktop - and a desktop I was *familiar* with as both a windows and macos user.

      What we have now with Unity ... is not familiar and to be honest, I don't have the time nor inclination to change the way I work on a Desktop system.

      Lets hope you take the feedback positively and future releases of Unity are ... a little more subtle and sane!

    4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      User interface is *important*

      Tardigrade hits the nail on the head. The change in the scroll bar behaviour may or may not be a good thing - personally, I hate them, and I think that they're a damn sight worse to use than classic scroll bars - but that fact that they come in different flavours in different applications not only gives a user *two* sets of user-interactions to learn but returns Linux desktops to the bad old days when every application was built with a different tool-kit and looked and behaved differently... it's downright unprofessional.

      Equally, global scroll-bars are a solution for a problem that does not exist with a larger screen - even on a 1366*768 laptop, I'll often have multiple windows open.

      The pointless 'I'll notify you but not let you do anything about it' system is a waste of time - tell me something *useful* and let me interact with it, not just '3 messages received'.

      But worst of all - increasing the number of clicks I need to do to make anything happen, requiring me to remember the physical locations of desktops to be able to use a keyboard shortcut, and replacing a sensible hierarchical menu with some stupid 'well, we're not going to tell you what's available unless you put the mouse down and start typing, and then we *might* condescend to tell you you can download it'... this is *not* a user-friendly system.

      Don't assume that new is better. Make what you *have* already, better. Make it consistent. But don't just stir something together because it looks as if it has some sexy ideas. If it slows me down, I won't use it. Full stop.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Here is the absloute bottom-line for me...

      Windows-users (90% of computer-users) CANNOT, and WILL NOT, use this... PERIOD.

      Linux-users HAVE spoken, and overwhelmingly said it is ABSOLUTELY-AWFUL... PERIOD.

      If Ubuntu continues down this path... Ubuntu on the Desktop is DEAD... PERIOD.

      ...and, with Ubuntu (the most popular version of desktop-Linux... as an alternative to the SLAVERY of "Windows")... Linux takes a TERRIBLE-BLOW (at the worst possible-time). Was that the intent..?

      But, please... tell US (actual COMPUTER-USERS, and IT-SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS)... again... exactly why WE... JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND why this is REALLY what's best for US ...whether we like it or not. And, explain, AGAIN, why we will just accept something we ABSOLUTELY DON'T WANT.

      More, importantly...

      Please STOP acting EXACTLY like Microsoft, AND Apple... And, STOP telling virtually the entire world why this STUPID-MISTAKE... is the next BIG-THING.

    6. Ceiling Cat

      The underlying OS may be good, but the UI fails...

      Jono said : "I can't help but feel that the review doesn't particularly represent the needs of potential users of the product as well as it could."

      I have been using Ubuntu since version 9.10, having changed over from Debian after I wasted an entire week trying to get my video card's proprietary drivers to install.

      Ubuntu, since v9.10, has served me quite well - both my main systems run Ubuntu as a secondary OS for various tasks, as well as being the only OS installed on my pair of Folding (@Home) boxen. I also have a file server running under Ubuntu, although for my needs I found the desktop version easier to use for this task than the server version.

      My experience with Ubuntu 11.04 was not a happy one - Canonical has pushed ahead and changed X-server versions to one which is currently not supported by the latest available ATi drivers. As a result, I was unable to properly access the features of my Radeon 5570. My Wi-Fi didn't work, whereas it did under v9.10-10.xx. When attempting to access the help system, I discovered that all the instructions contained therein were for the Gnome interface.

      As an end user, I have to ask why such a drastic change was deemed necessary? Personally, I don't want to have to re-learn how to perform simple (or complex) tasks. I want "innovation" and what it brings to get the heck out of my way and let me work, not leave me struggling to figure out how to access my applications.

      Badgers, because......

  37. Mike Lovell

    Unity does suck but the rest is good

    Is really couldn't get used to Unity, but you can just add the gnome3 PPA's in and install that on 11.04 so it's pretty much a non-issue for me. That or just run classic gnome 2 if you really can't bear change.

  38. J 3
    Thumb Down


    I just upgraded on my home machine from 10.10 to see what all the brouhaha was about -- and, after all, I could always start the thing in "classic mode" or whatever.

    Did the whole upgrade thing that is customary in Ubuntu ever since I started using it years ago. Reboot. Computer dead. It gets to grub, but after that, it hangs in a dark screen, no message, "no nothing". Even rescue mode, gets to some spot with all that cryptic stuff, and hangs. Every time -- and I tried some 5 or 6 times. I could have tried to look up what the last message meant, but the very need to do it... Forget about it. Only way to restart it to press and hold the power button. I have NEVER have it happen with a fresh Linux install, in any of many computers I've owned or worked on at work. Even the work's 24" iMac running Ubuntu, which is a bit finicky to start sometimes, can get started -- I actually just upgraded it from 9.10 to 10.04 without any issues. Ever since the days of Debian in 2000 (whatever version it was ), then Red Hat 7.x, through SuSE up to 10.3, and then several Ubuntu versions ever since.

    Now, as I type here in my netbook (running 10.10 with that Unity abortion removed and the old style netbook-launcher in its place), I am using my 10.10 USB stick to reinstall it on the quad core AMD that 11.04 bricked. And I don't feel like trying it all over again -- considering I'm pretty peeved that a fresh install means a lot of reinstalls of my software.


    1. Mike Lovell


      Surely in rescue mode it hangs at/after a specific point? Otherwise it sounds rather like graphics driver issues. When I've upgraded a machine to 11.04 I usually kill the "xorg.conf" file after I've done so. Especially if I'm running an ATI graphics card, fglrx has been replaced with the Open Source driver.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fresh installs all the way

      Don't ever do an in place upgrade. Keep a 6 gig partition free, and when you see a release you wanna try out, install into the spare partition. Once you're all installed, it'll take a few extra minutes to grab the latest versions of the software you need in synaptic, and if you mount your /home, all the apps will find their settings (you have a /home partition, right? If not, mount your old / into /mnt/old and symlink /home to /mnt/old/home). And if you find you don't like the latest version, just boot into your regular install. :)

      1. J 3

        @Fresh installs all the way

        Well, I had never had such a huge problem with "in place" Linux upgrading, so I guess I got spoiled. Sure, sometimes in the past I had small issues that required a bit of googling and manual intervention, but never a show stopper like this. And yes, I do have my /home in a separate partition, which of course made life much easier in the recovery of the 11.04 disaster.

        The thing I *should* have tried first was to make a USB stick and try it first. If there is some inherent problem with the combination of 11.04 and my hardware, it would show there. If the problem was the interaction of 11.04 and my previous, 10.10 install, then the USB stick would not show a problem.

        As the poster above mentions, it could be a video thing (I do have an integrated ATI), although every time I had a video problem before (and it were many in my old machine that had too old a video card to have updated drivers) at least get the system to go the command line login, where I could do something. The start with recovery mode hung after some cryptic-looking kernel message (more reason to think it was some driver, I guess), but I was in no mood for extreme googling, so I gave up.

        Either way, I won't find out, because I already reinstalled 10.10 (and all the apps) and will be saying feck thee every time I see the Upgrade Manager suggesting a distro upgrade 11.04.

  39. ici.chacal
    Thumb Down

    The bug that particularly shocks me is...

    ...the one where you cannot manually specify mount points in the partitioner during installation. Obviously somebody, somehow, has broken it since the last release, and it just goes to show how little, if any, regression testing goes on... Can you imagine the uproar if the Windows installer had such an unnecessary error in it..!!

    Pretty poor if you ask me, if this fixed six-month release cycle is just going to mean flawed releases, then perhaps Canonical should consider a more manageable time-frame..?

    1. SilverWave

      Copy and paste (read the release notes)


  40. Glitterball

    Moved to Kubuntu

    After 5 years with Ubuntu and Gnome, this has forced me to Kubuntu - and I am very happy with KDE after only a few weeks.

    The global menus might be great on a netbook - but they are a nightmare on a multi-monitor workstation.

    I fundamentally disagree with the whole copy-Apple-because-they-always-know-best philosophy - the whole attraction of Linux is its customizability and Ubuntu will never be able to make their system attractive to people who buy Macs because they can never match Apple's product placement or its presence in the media.

  41. SMPASS
    Thumb Up

    I thiunk 11.04 is very good and I like the difference

    I have gone the upgrade route on a desktop to 11.04 and also a complete install on a Dell mini 10 and both were the simplest installs I have done since starting with Ubuntu 7. Admittedly there are differences but as I used 10.10 NBR I had already got used to unity. I think it is polished and well done. I'm surprised by the comments that it's not ready. Not ready for what? I have Mint on another machine and I like them both. The great thin about Linux is you can try as many as you like. If you think you can do better, then provide us with your own distro, I look forward to trying that too.

    1. SMPASS
      Thumb Up


      I've now upgraded an old Thinkpad T41 to 11.04 and it defaulted to 'classic' interface as it couldn't use 'Unity', this is a nice touch. I love the fact you can switch between 'Classic' and 'Unity' (on a machine that can run it) at the login screen. Perfect.

      It all just works so I'm surprised people are having issues as I've installed it on 4 different machines now (2 upgrades and 2 fresh installs) and have had no issues whatsoever.

  42. Lowres

    You should have reviewed Slackware 13.37

    You should have reviewed Slackware 13.37 Scott. Just out and as good as ever.

  43. David Given
    Thumb Down

    Focus follows mouse... *not* supported.

    Which is a total deal-breaker for me. It's simply the most useful and productive feature that X has that other environments don't. Even OSX has a limited focus-follows-mouse mode (which applies to Terminal windows only), which should tell you how useful it is.

    If it doesn't do focus-follows-mouse, there's simply no point me even looking further at it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm not going to downvote you

      But, I think that follow-the-mouse has sucked since my first experience with a CDC-910 in the late 80's, and then SunOS in the early 90's.

      I will admit that it might be just me, but I think mouse-focus was designed for three-armed users, or possibly those with single-track minds.

      The way I look at it is that if I'm typing in window 1, why should I not be able to use the pointer to mark my place in window 2.

    2. A J Stiles

      And I thought I was the only one

      Hover to select. Single-click to open. For the win :)

  44. Smudge@mcr

    Have you learned nothing from KDE 4

    I know its been said before but after the disater that was KDE 4 would it not have been easier to miss a release and finish off Unity.

    When will developers realise that the one thing users hate more than anything is being used as a proving ground for incomplete or bug ridden software.

    By releasing software that is unfinished you damage the reputation of Ubuntu and of Linux in general. If its a development release PUT A LABEL ON IT don't try and pass it off as a finished product.

    Not only that Unity and Gnome 3 have both broken Compiz one of the best pieces of eye cnady on any computer and the one thing that makes new users go wow even if it is not that useful.

    Total Fail.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    When it's properly customisable...

    I may give it another chance.

    Tried it, didn't like it - doesn't work the way I do.

  46. Antoinette Lacroix


    is all about configurability. The Bling can be turned off by unloading modules.


    Unity is just a Gnome shell with Compiz instead of the default WM. You just have to replace 4 packages to get a regular Gnome Desktop.

    1. SMPASS

      You can switch interfaces at the login screen!

      You can select 'classic' interface over 'unity' at login if you want a traditional Ubentu interface. This needs no technical changes at all.

  47. Patrick 8

    Freetards having trouble running without lockups?

    Shame... you know its ironic that Apple hardware kit has been running these lockup free and without issues....

    says something about being a cheap bastard doesn't it?

  48. Cyfaill

    Old Debian user

    I have been a straight up Debian user for years. Met Mark Shuttleworth a while back and was fairly impressed with what he is attempting to do.

    Make a McLinux for everybody. I can't complain too much as I don't use it so it's particulars are somewhat removed from my experience as I am now an aptosid user ( another Debian, based on sid ). Linux can be very stable... in the extreme like an enterprise system its so stable its dead (no change to anything.. all bugs removed)

    At the other end there is aptosid ( a rolling release were everyday is a new day and change is the only constant ) that is what I use.

    And then in between is the island of Ubuntu. and it is an Island. unto itself.

    Based loosely on Debian.... but it is just barely so. Kind of like closed course were spec cars race. you can tune them different ways, some but it is still a spec car.

    There are Hundreds of distros out there... Ubuntu is but just one very noticeable flavor. It has its fans and it is a good thing to be so popular as a Linux, it helps bring in new people, but keep in mind it is just a flavor with its particular look and feel and its own aspects of stability.

    I am sticking to aptosid as it's config and behavior has more to do with my capabilities rather than a canned version does.

  49. Uwe Dippel
    Thumb Up

    I really love Unity - at least on my 10" netbook!

    ... though I might hate it on my 24" monitor. I'll see after the upgrade.

    It is really the best and most real-estate-efficient surfaces I have ever seen on traditional desktops.

    I particularly like:

    - the menu appearing as overlay on the titlebar at mouse-over

    - the auto-hide launcher panel that allows me to start applications and switch between them, on the left (and not top or bottom!)

    - the global menu that allows me to switch between desktop, launcher and menu (and grays out what is not accessible)

    - The Desktop in the background, and that all items are still configurable (Gnome 3 anyone??)

    - Yes, I also love the hanging scrollbars. With some hand-eye coordination it saves extra real-estate.

    It clearly shows the intention: moving to touch-screen times. Expect even the top panel to go away and make it come up like the 'activities' in KDE or just some screen edge, respectively a touch button. I for one don't need it all the time. I know my login-name, keyboard layout, etc. without the display.

  50. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    To Jono

    Surley the number of comments here and on countless other forums says one thing.

    Unity is not ready for general use.

    As a Software Developer for almost 40years my view on 11.04 with Unity is that it is nice for an Alpha release. It is most certainly not ready for the mainstream.

    Didn't Canonical learn anything from the release of KDE 4.0?

    I guess not.

    I can only hope that there are not the same issues with Fedora 15 & Gnome 3 when it is released later this month.

    If this is also a UI Disaster then I fully expect the head honchos in Redmond will be very happy indeed.

    Mines the one with the latest version of Slackware on a USB Stick in the pocket.

  51. Shannon Jacobs

    Wrong funding model--more testing DESPERATELY needed

    I'd love to see Ubuntu succeed and seriously dent Microsoft. However, after several years of using Ubuntu, I am now convinced it will NOT do so. I don't think minimal survival should be confused with real success. Ubuntu peaked out a couple of years ago, and I'm convinced it will just continue to slide into the depths--and that belief was reaffirmed by my problems with my first upgrade installation.

    In a sense, I don't blame them. The big charity economic model could work if the donor is rich enough (which he isn't) or if the donor makes perfect decisions (which he doesn't). At least that's the theory, but I can't think of any real world examples of note.

    My suggestion is an increased emphasis on project planning with a different economic model that favors small donors. Make sure the project budget includes sufficient money for adequate testing and documentation and make sure there are enough users willing to put their money on the project.

  52. Ceiling Cat

    Posting from a USB install of 11.04

    The current problems I'm having with the new Ubuntu are :

    - Dock/launcher is absolute shite.

    - Unity does nothing to improve my workflow.

    - Very counterintuitive approach to UI design.

    - Currently does not support use of the proprietary ATI drivers (supposedly ATI's fault).

    Do... not.... want.....

  53. ici.chacal

    Just tried the LiveCD...

    ...and to be honest, I quite like this new Unity thing. It is certainly different, and although I can't vouch for its similarities to OSX (*spit*), it does remind me of the way the Windows 7 desktop works, which I also like.

    As for its Fisher Price factor, I didn't think it was too bad, because as we all know, nothing can trump Windows XP in that regard.

    And as far as productivity goes, just load up the launcher bar thingy with the stuff you use, and away you go...

    I only played around with it for half an hour or so, so I have yet to run across any of the niggles that other people have mentioned.

    And the great thing about this being Ubuntu/Linux, if I get bored with it I can just load up another desktop instead... Sweet..!!

  54. Carol Orlowski
    Thumb Up

    Slightly unfair review!

    So Ubuntu 11.04 is no good simply because of the scrollbars, and it didn't have a release candidate?? Bit harsh.

    And I'm totally confused by all this Unity hating. I'm using it right now, and it's great!

    Lots of people seem to be complaining that Unity is dumbed down. I'm finding the opposite. I want an interface that's fast and that I can get around with using the mouse as little as possible.

    Gnome2 required too much point-clicking. With Gnome 2, it was Alt+F1, hopefully find the right category for the app, move up down with the keyboard to select the category, then move up and down to select the right entry, and finally hit enter. With Unity, I tap the win/meta key, start typing what I want to run, it appears and I hit enter. What more could a power user want? And guake still works fine if I want a terminal up.

    Unity is smart, it's stable, and it just works. I've got more screen space, it gets out of my way, and it's fast. Gnome 3 on the other hand is slow, to switch apps I have to click some 'Activities' menu, then find the screenshot of the program I want, then click on it, and finally hopefully it's the right one. Why on earth would any power user not use Unity? It's the way to go. And if this is only the first release, I think it's gonna rock within a year.

    Everyone seems to initially hate Facebook for making radical changes, but eventually they realise how awesome and common-sense those changes are. With Unity it'll be the same.

  55. Turbo Beholder
    Jobs Horns

    brain worms which crawl from Apples

    Another "of many features that reflect the influence of Apple's user interface" are gray-on-gray-with-contrast-lowering-shine "aluminium" icons we see in the first screenshot.

    They like Unity? Could make one more flavour-clone like Kubuntu or Xubuntu.

    Want something other than Gnome, there's already polished compiz. Want something more... lightweight - xfce is already built into Xubuntu. Why this sudden jumping?..

    Soapy gray icons + knowing better "what the user needs" = a reliable way to discern where learning on other people's mistakes ends and gushy Apple fanboying begins.

  56. Mark Greenwood

    Not just Ubuntu

    As the author says, the whole thing is horribly reminiscent of the KDE4 debacle. But to be fair it wasn't just (K)ubuntu that made that mistake. I was a Mandriva user at the time and their initial KDE4 offering was, if anything, worse than Canonical's. It made me switch temporarily to Ubuntu before finally switching to Kubuntu about a year later when KDE4 started to work. A bit. It's also probably worth pointing out that a great many of the KDE developers were very unhappy about what they saw as unfinished software being put into a mainstream release. This last point would not seem to apply to Unity.

    The whole thing is startingly reminiscent of my entire career of 4 jobs at various software companies for whom releasing the thing on the date they said they'd release it was much more important than actually making the thing work. All those companies have since ceased trading. Makes you appreciate the Debian approach. Or, for that matter, the Microsoft approach.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree

      Companies should wait to release until the SW works.

      Except that's exactly what Nokia have done with their S60 latest kit - and look at the bad press they are getting.

      Samsung release any old pap without proper testing and get along fine.

      Life's a bitch.,

  57. Kurgan

    Why do we need to change?

    Why do we need to change the way the UI works? I want to to WORK with my computer, not waste my time trying to guess where I have to click or what key combination I have to use to do what I need to do.

    Unity is a complete loss, useful for a kiosk, useless for a PC.

    Maybe it's time to use Debian also for desktop use, and not only for server use?

  58. Someone Else Silver badge


    "Since Apple is adding the same detached-scrollbar trick to some of its new applications, it must be a good idea."

    Either there's a missing <sarcasm> tag, or, just plain Puh-LEEEEZE.

  59. Ari 1

    not bad, but needs work

    I just upgraded to Natty, and must say that I like the direction in which it is heading.

    That said, there is clear room for improvement. Some behaviours are strange, and consistency is seriously lacking.

    The Unity concept seems somewhat undercooked.

    It doesn't properly show what is going on (programs starting and such) and the way in which All Programs are displayed MUST be fixed. Control panel has to be integrated properly, and default behaviour for the file browser shortcut on the launcher is very strange. The file browser shortcut is named "home" yet its behaviour is identical to that of the Finder on Mac; it starts a finder window if none is open, if one is open it makes that active. The problem is that the behaviour on Mac isn't really that nice AND that the name "home" suggests that the home directory should be opened. A more sensible behaviour for that shortcut (with that name) is to start a file browser window in the home directory if no file browser window is open with that directory being displayed.

    I can't drag folders onto the launcher... The drag/move function on the launcher is weird (having to drag an item off the launcher and into the launcher in another place). I get the reasoning, but it isn't intuitive or particularly nice.

    And a bunch of other niggles.

    All those negatives aside, the upgrade went fine (except having to click a "continue" type button a few times during installation. Please have those at the beginning and/or end of installation so the installation can be started and needs no revisiting).

    The system worked nicely, all hardware worked perfectly, my programs work without a hitch, most defaults were good and it didn't mess with my custom stuff. Looks good and is a step in the right direction. This can become a distro which I can teach my grandma to use, yet I can use it for myself for most of what I need to do on a second computer (as well as my scrap-built kids computer) which resides in my living room.

    It took me a couple of minutes to find some stuff (control panel and such) and figure out the UI, after that I've had no problems. I didn't read any tutorials or help docs, but just explored.

    That said, I think that an "All Programs" shortcut with a visual menu with apps grouped into categories AND a search feature would be nice. The little plus sign thing just doesn't cut it.

  60. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Developers versus users

    "When will developers realise that the one thing users hate more than anything is being used as a proving ground for incomplete or bug ridden software."

    The same time end users realize there are long term releases that specifically avoid this situation.

    Anyway.. I have no idea if I'll like Unity or not. But so what? That's why there's a choice of window managers and desktop environments. Just like how ppl in the Windows world could choose a 2000-style interface if they didn't like XPs, and can choose probably both 2000 or XP style interfaces if they did not like Vistas or 7's.

  61. cjwatson

    Mount point selection

    Sorry about the mount point bug in the installer, which several people have mentioned in comments. We did notice this shortly before release, but we were already past the point of no return.

    Evan has committed a fix, which will be in the next release; but given how many people have mentioned this, I may look into preparing some kind of updated images with that bug fixed.

    1. ici.chacal


      Yes, updating the images themselves would definitely be the right thing to do. The installation experience needs to be flawless; any other issues can be fixed later through Update Manager...

  62. Peter Mc Aulay

    Unity works quite well, actually

    If you're a light user who knows nothing of computers and treats PCs as appliances. If you just want to run a web browser or media player and don't actually ever use a file manager or bother to customise your desktop, this is the thing for you.

    Most such people would just buy an iPad, though.

    Unity is strangely restrictive and unsatisfying to operate if you want to do anything at all more advanced than surfing the interwebs. It's not "revolutionary" at all, it feels like a Chinese pirate knock-off of OSX but less powerful, and is also nothing like either Gnome or Windows 7 - although whether this is good or bad is a matter of taste. It reminds me of the Xandros abomination that came with the original eeepc 701, if anything.

    But whatever, most people don't run an OS, they run applications. Personally I think Unity does Linux no justice and I wouldn't run it on my desktop, but for a netbook for occasional use it's just fine.

  63. Gian

    I'm very excited with this upgrade, instead!

    Yes, I can say that I already imagined this exact solution for the following reasons:

    - Gnome evolved very wildly adding inconsistently the functionalities of windows, mac, motif. etc. : so you had all sorts of widget, icons, menus, at the 4 corners of the screen. A mess.

    - X-window is an old wrack: it was created for the '80 tech, when client & server where fisically detached and connected via ethernet, nowadays we're running C&S on the same machine, with a lot of message passing. This is evident in the lag (and hangs) of the windows, with killed windows that leave the client app running. Obsolete.

    - After spending more and more time with my wonderful Android phone, I really feel the need of a touchscreen on my laptop. But all current window managers are built for the mouse. Unity was designed with this destiny: being finger friendly.

    So I can understand only those of you IT manager, that maybe have still many windows 98 installed, who face the nightmare of organize training.

    Evolutionary wise it's the way to go.

  64. Steve-SCB

    I need a new distro

    I'm hitting the escape key. As an Ubuntu user since Gutsy Gibbon, I've been a keen fan of the distro, until the last year or so. Its been suitable for a range of requirements, from a PC for a 7 year old up to power user professional use.

    Ubuntu was the most sanely configured distro I have tried. However over the last 18 months an increasing number of irritations have crept in. The awful notifications that pop up, cannot be canceled and cannot be responded to by clicking on them, window buttons in the wrong place followed by the removal of the % indication from the battery notification, all retrograde steps. It seems that the premature forcing of Unity upon the community is just symptomatic of the increasing arrogance of Canonical in telling me how I should use my computer. Additionally on the same hardware set the Ubuntu UI has appeared to be becoming increasingly less responsive, as Canonical appear to have become less responsive to the community.

    I agree that the desktop OS should be unobtrusive to the end user, who should only have to deal with applications. It has to improve to stay/become relevant to ordinary users (in that respect the iPad and Android are showing the way). Unity, or a later derivation of it, perhaps running on Wayland, may well be the answer for a general purpose laptop, tablet or PC, but in its current form it should have been released along side a more conservative Gnome 2 version, until it has been tried and tested enough by real users.

    Hopefully Ubuntu will once again become a sane distribution, after all Canonical has done a fantastic job until recently, in the mean time I'm looking around for a workable alternative to moving to 11.04. I'll either have to move back to the last LTS or more likely to another Debian derivative or maybe even Suse.

    1. J 3


      "The awful notifications that pop up, cannot be canceled and cannot be responded to by clicking on them"

      I don 't know what's more retarded: that someone thought that that notification system was a good idea, or that it hasn't been fixed yet after so long (which means someone DOES think it's a good idea, I guess).

  65. Jacqui

    hanging scroll bar

    Isnt that directly from tablets and phones?

    Its inuitive for almost all schoolkids today who use a touch screen.

    Perhaps this is an indication that touch screen systems are an ubuntu target.

  66. nederlander
    Thumb Up

    Works for me

    Any unfamiliar OS paradigm takes some getting used to. God knows I've never got over the hump with OSX which is supposed to be intuitive.

    I'm finding some things a little slower so far with Narwhal, like I find the global menu confusing because it's not what I'm used to, but everything else works, its very fast, it hasn't crashed and its new and shiny - for those reason's I will give it a chance.

    Also the 'windows button' function is totally great - searches so many categories so fast. If I type 'gimp', not only do I get to launch gimp, I also get a list of recent files from gimp, each with a thumbnail - very handy.

    I'm sure there are a few wrinkles yet to iron out and I look forward to seeing that over the coming months. Congratulations to the Ubuntu team for this innovation (or at least for stealing some good ideas.)

  67. Rambler88
    Jobs Horns

    The good thing about premature releases...

    I'm glad Canonical released this now, rather than waiting until they got it "right". Don't forget that if Apple wasn't so good at getting stupid ideas "right", they would have eaten Microsoft by the early 90s.

    As a long-time Mac user and frequent Windows user--that's using them for real work, and fighting them every inch of the way to keep them out of the way of my wetware--I was looking forward to an alternative. Ubuntu was looking like it was becoming what I'd been waiting for. I'd installed Maverick, and was waiting eagerly to find time to really learn it and start using it.

    I'd have felt like quite the idiot if I'd put in that time, only to find out with the next update that Shuttleworth has Job's disease, and had decreed that henceforth all UIs shall be optimized for handhelds--i.e., that henceforth, computers shall be toys.

    I have better things to do with my time than invest it in new products put out by new sets of unstable people. I waste enough as it is on the new products put out by the entrenched wackos. To me as someone who uses computers as tools, this not only discredits Canonical--it discredits Unix. Gnome's embrace of the same philosophy strongly reinforces this. It strongly suggests to me that Unix people are still basically what they were a couple of decades ago--geeks for whom the computer is an end in itself, with no respect for or comprehension of the reasons why the world buys computers.

    Ubuntu was the only distro that looked like breaking out of that mold--the only one that looked like it might eventually become popular enough to run the applications that I now need Mac/Windows for. (You know--that software that "lusers" use.)

    Now that Jobs has left the solar system entirely, I'm left with the prospect of relying on Windows for the rest of my life. (I'm old--I came on board with a Radio Shack TRS-80 with 48 kilobytes of RAM and no hard drive.) Ecccchhhhh!

    Eventually, an OS will be developed that is capable of supporting industries that aren't declining. It's looking like the documentation will be written in Chinglish.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    New flavour

    Maybe we just need to have another flavour of ubuntu with the Gnome interface, Gubuntu anyone?

    I'll get my coat...

  69. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Gie' back the old stuff...

    Yup, the upgrade went painlessly.

    Everything's working, barring the screensaver locking the PC up. Disabled it.

    This reminds me of Netbook Remix. Will be playing around with it and see if it works as it should, but I can tell ye that Firefox doesn't like it rough.

  70. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Down

    Bloody awful!

    I updated from 10.10 and 11.04 keeps crashing and as I have an Nvidia graphics chipset I get the phantom "white windows" bug, maxing a window suddenly blanks it white, resize to get the contents back. Some apps when started from command line, like rdesktop, have no borders and with no running apps bar anymore you can't kill it. I restarted without Unity and things weren't much better. Gone back to 10.10 until this blows over.

    Seen lots of forum posts about people dumping Ubuntu over this and checking Fedora and other distros, Canonical need to get some damage limitation done very quickly.

  71. Steven Raith

    Stevens Vision Of The Future

    Unity-based devices running Unity in tablet mode, and perhaps a more traditional UI when docked.

    No technical reason why it can't be done if you take X out of the mixture and drop in a totally new display engine that could be written to support hot UI switching - I wonder if Weyland does?

    Seeing things like the EeePad Transformer makes me wonder if this is what Shuttleworth is thinking.

    It's either that or I'm really, really bored waiting for a call back from a software vendor and I've let my mind wander a bit...

    Steven R

  72. Gian

    You can install GNOME if you like.....

    Guys, don't get so nervous; if you want you can just install gnome from Software Center. I'm doing this now.

    Actually, when I heard about Unity, some months ago, I installed it on 10.10 and used both.

    Hope this can cure the nostalgia, no need to change distro.

  73. Big Bear


    Touchscreen laptops - wonderful idea, terrible in reality. The constant moving of the arm gets irritating as unlike a phone or table, the arm has to move substantially to be not obscuring the screen you have been manipulating, so all interactions entail large movements from the shoulder, which gets a bit tiring. Moving a hand to the trackpad moves from the elbow or wrist down, and the nipple/nub/trackstick involves little movement but slightly less precise tracking.

    And the smears on the screen really pissed me off after a while...

    On a phone things are different - a slight movement of the wrist moves your fingers out of the way, and since the phone will be held in the other hand, the usual way is to move both out of the way of each other. Tablets are similar, but with a slightly larger movement range.

    What I don't get is why, oh why, is a single GUI so desirable? A touch friendly interface designed for a phone is not going to work on a 20 inch monitor! It's like trying to have a phone run a Core i7 and Radeon GPU...

  74. SilverWave

    Ubuntu Natty Narwhal 11.04: Stunning and Beautiful.

    yeah I like it :-)

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