sabato 15 maggio 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx Review

On April 24 Ubuntu released its 10.04 release, I was currently using 9.10 (32 bit) and because 10.04 is an LTS and even because I wanted to switch from 32 bit to 64 and from ext3 to ext4 I've decided to do a fresh install on my HP DV3650.
The HP DV3650 has this spec:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo P8600@2.4Ghz
  • 4GB DDR2 Ram
  • 320 Gb HD
  • Nvidia 9300M with 256Mb dedicated Ram
  • 13.3" LED Display
  • Main Ports: 3 USB, 1 HDMI, Ethernet

I also use an external Philips 19" Monitor via HDMI to DVI connector.

Installation process
The graphic install it's almost identical to the on in Karmic Koala expect from the fact tath by default it doesn't show any option after the boot. If you want to change language or keyboard you need to push any key.
I think that in the mind of the developers this choice should give to the install procedure a much cleaner feeling but as I need an italian keyboard and prefer an English OS it doesn't feel good for me (and probably for anyone who prefers an English OS but lives outside the USA).
By the way if you don't change the keyboard before installing Lucid you can select it during the graphical install.

First Boot
Even the boot time feels about the same as Karmic (maybe Lucid Lynx is slightly faster).
I didn't elapse it because I think the correct unit for measuring the total boot time its the human feeling and not seconds. Why should I care if the total boot time its 15 or 16 seconds?
I don't know if it feels faster because of minor improvements, the switch to 64 bit or to ext4 or only for the exicetment of trying the new Ubuntu.
The only things that counts is that it is fast.
The boot up speed it's comparable to the one of my personal MacBook Pro (se previous posts) and much faster of a tipical Windows XP or Vista (at present I didn't try Windows 7 for real work).

User Experience
The user experience it's wonderful. The system feels really responsive wich is much more important that the boot time.
The new dark theme without all that brown it's a lot better even if the icons still are to orange for my taste. As a mac user I did appreciate that they put the window buttons on the left style instead of the right like Windows. Obvously if you don't like this choice you can always change theme.
One thing to note it that when I tried Karmic Koala on day 0 I've had a lot of crashes (where a lot means for me a crash every 2/3 days) for the first moth. I think that the main problem where the nvidia drivers as the crashed significantly decreased when I switched to the nvidia official launchpad repository.
Lucid instead it's been rock solid from the first day even if  (as usual) a lot of updates appeared on the official repositories especially in the first week (after only five days a new kernel was also available).

I'm having a  little experience issue with Nautilus. In the previous version I could configure it to show the location in the address bar instead the bread crumbs path. I didn't find how to do it in this release...
I can edit it with +L but I can't keep the address visible; Nautilus will switch to the bread crumbs by default.

Hardware and Drivers
First I have to say that Ubuntu recognized and configured correctly almost all my hardware. The only thing that still isn't working correctly is the volume slide on the laptop. It did't work well on Karmic and it still doesn't work well on Lucid. Not a big problem for me as I prefer to use shotcut keys anyway.
Before Lucid was released I've heard a lot of the new nvidia nouveau drivers which are the default on Lucid.
They work; they recognized and configured both the 13.3" monitor of the laptop and the 19" external monitor. You can correctly use the laptop monitor and the external one together or just one at a time.
On the other side the nouveau drivers don't support 3D acceleration and they don't let you run all the effects of Compiz too.
The most notable thing is that they are a lot slower than the nvidia closed source conunterpart. If you are a purist (or a fanatic) you can stay with the nouveau but I warmly suggest you to use the closed ones. The system will be faster and more responsive which is more important than an open vs source flame for me.
I strongly believe in open source but I feel that the difference of the two drivers is too evident not to be pragmatic choosing the more convenient way to work.

Obviously even using the closed source drivers I can use both my monitor without problems.
Developing software I prefer to use only the 19" external monitor and switch the desktops instead of turning my head left and right trying to find wath I'm looking for but maybe the double monitor solution could be userful to you.

Speaking of software I've installed some extra repositories (mainly medibuntu) so I could have all the closed source codecs and google-earth (which I love).
I've installed both google-chrome and chromium (the non branded version of chrome) and they work beautifully. By the way: they are a lot faster than firefox!
I've also downloaded virtualbox from I didn't install the ose version (available from repository) because with that version I could not connect USB devices to the virtual machine. I've downloaded the 3.1.6 64 bit release for Karmic as the Lucid version wasn't available till a few days ago. Now you can find the 3.1.8 specifically packaged for Lucid or you can add the virtualbox repository to your synaptic manager.
Skype has been removed from the medibuntu repo so I've downloaded it directly from skype website. It works perfectly and I can use the integrated 1.3mpx webcam installed on my laptop without problems even if the version was designed for ubuntu 8.10.
I've also installed flash plugin. First I've tried the plugin available from the repository but on youtube sometimes I could not click on the player buttons (if you do a search on google you can find other people having the same problem).
looking in the filesystem I found out that the repository installed the flash 10.1 32 bit version and firefox was using this plugin through the 32 to 64 bit wrapper.
The solution for me was to download the 64 bit native plugin directly from adobe. Uninstall the plugin from the repository and update the symbolic links.
Here are detailed all the (simple) operations needed and you can even find a script which does all the work for you.

The end
In this short review I've used Karmic (9.10) as a meter to evaluate how good Lucid Lynx is. I should say that I'm an Ubuntu user from the beginning and its almost 3 years now that I'm using it intensively. I've tried Ubuntu on a lot of notebooks and even on some "servers" (actually desktops used as servers) and virtual machines. After all
I've to say that after a series of release in descendant quality this it the best release Ubuntu ever had!
Rock solid, fast, an almost perfect hardware detection and a lot of software all up to date immediately available. I don't know what else I should ask for.