This October is not an exception. 13th of October (sorry, not Friday this time) saw release of version 11.10, nicknamed Oneiric Ocelot. As usual, Canonical, company beyond Ubuntu, releases whole family of systems based on the same core: Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu and Lubuntu.
There is a lot of new in Ubuntu 11.10 version. Especially because it is first system where Unity takes ownership of the system and moves old good GNOME2 fully aside. That's why it needs more detailed review.
I am fan of KDE myself.
I tried to download Kubuntu just few minutes after its release on the 13th of October. When I tried to do so, BitTorrent file with 32bit x86 version was not available on the server. Such a pity, but that pushed me towards direct download link, which increased load on Kubuntu hosting servers. As usual, all Ubuntu releases fit standard 700 Mb size for CD, unless you want to go for DVD version specifically.
ISO image was downloaded, and that was a time for me to attempt boot from USB using the image. Unfortunately, neither command dd nor tool Unetbootin were able to create bootable USB for my laptop. The same fault as with my previous attempt to boot Debian hybrid ISO image. It is a fault of BIOS on my laptop. As a result, I gave up with Live USB creation and burned ISO image to DVD-RW disk.
Reboot. Choose to boot from optical media. Let's go for the Live run!
Boot and desktop
Booting process of Kubuntu remained the same for few last releases. Even same dot-matrix-printer style of fonts on the first screen. This screen allows you to choose between booting Kubuntu, installation, running media checks or continue to boot from normal hard disk. At the same stage you can change system language and adjust some other global parameters.
Of course, my choice was for Running Kubuntu. System continued booting process until next question was asked. This time I had a choice between running Kubuntu in Live mode or start installation. Choice again was made for Live run.
Once booted, Kubuntu lands you in the screen with Desktop Folder layout.
To finish some technical details, I need to mention that Kubuntu 11.10 uses KDE 4.7.1. This is the latest release. Below KDE you get Linux kernel 220.127.116.11. This time you get not the latest version, although fresh enough.
Freshly booted Kubuntu 11.10 operating system takes about 240 Mb of memory, which is relatively a lot.
takes 240Mb on fresh boot
There is a standard panel at the bottom of the screen in Kubuntu 11.10. It has standard layout with KMenu button, only one shortkey "Show activity manager", virtual desktops switcher, taskbar, "Show desktop" button and standard items on the right side like clocks, KNetworkManager, USB control etc.
This is the first time when I saw "Show activity manager" button pushed towards user in such a way. I can't say I liked it a lot. I would rather see more useful shortcuts there, like File Manager, browser and so on. Of course, you can easily customize the panel, but default option is not ideal from my perspective.
Also, placement of "Show desktop" button is strange enough. I've never seen it in the middle of the panel. I would rather move it to the left, next to KMenu button, or to the right beyond the clock.
This version of KDE has an option to "pin" applications to taskbar. There is an option which allows you to quickly build your own dock of shortcuts. It is available by right click on the application button on takbar. Similar to Windows7 style, although with some difference. KDE application is only shown as shortcut when it is not running. Once started, it becomes normal taskbar item.
There are only 2 virtual desktops by default in Kubuntu 11.10. It means you can't make "Desktop cube" immediately. Of course, the number can be adjusted easily.
To be honest, I have not tried enabling/disabling of desktop effect in Kubuntu 11.10. Desktop cube is not enabled by default. If there were any enabled, they worked smoothly for me and I have not noticed any oddities.
Main menu itself in Kubuntu 11.10 is in Kickoff style. Again, there is a difference from previous versions. If you remember, once you start navigating through layers of menu, you get button with arrow on the left hand side, which allows you to come to previous level. Now there is no method to come back to previous level of menu. Instead, there is a navigation path at the top of menu, like in Dolphin. This is new, not sure if this makes life easier. But maybe it's just a configuration or "user training". I have not looked deeper into the configuration, but most likely there should be a method to switch back to previous method of navigation.
If you used to see lots of nice artwork in Kubuntu to be used as desktop wallpapers, you will be very disappointed this time. At least, I was. I was only presented with one standard desktop wallpaper which you can see on screenshot above. As a bonus, there is a button which allows to download more, but unfortunately they are not shipped on CD together with Kubuntu 11.10.
Keyboard layoutsIs Kubuntu 11.10 good with multilingual users? It would be strange if it was not. I was able to configure Russian keyboard layout in its usual place - Input Devices item of System Settings panel. Usual configuration steps, and everything works as expected.
Should I drop my notes about keyboard layout support in different Linux OSes? I have not seen any oddities for long time now. Let me think about this...
Network activationMy test was running on Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pi 1505 laptop. It has Intel 3945ABG card for wireless network. I was not surprised at all when I saw my network card configured automatically by Kubuntu. There was a little circle in the right corner of taskbar, which indicated the network manager was ready for my actions. Of course, my network was found automatically and I only had to enter security key. Few keystrokes, few seconds of waiting before connection is established, and I am on-line.
Once connected, I tried to use my external network drive. Package smbfs is not included in default system, that's why command sudo mount -t cifs -o guest,nolinux failed initially. I had to install smbfs first. After installation (sudo apt-get install smbfs) mounting went OK with correct support of Russian characters, even without mentioning of iocharset in mounting parameters.
BrowsingKubuntu 11.10 has one browser included. It is Rekonq. This is KDE-specific application, based on WebKit. This is platform beyond Google Chrome (-ium), Safari, Midori, Arora and some other browsers.
I saw Rekonq in some other Linux distributions before. It was very small and not feature-rich. Now Rekonq has grown up. List of useful functions increased. For example, it now has feature to show preview of tabs. But unfortunately Rekonq is still not very stable. It crashed several times for me. As usual, crashes happened in very important moments.
Usual browser for many Linux distributions, Firefox is not included into Kubuntu 11.10. Instead, there is a link to installer in the Internet section of menu. Unfortunately, installer did not work for me in Live mode. Same was valid for Google Chrome installation. It stopped at the phase "Installing dependencies". I guess the reason was lack of space in /var directory in Live run, and system could not record installation log.
There was a problem for me. Neither of "decent" browsers could be installed, and the only present browser kept crashing from time to time.
Other that Rekonq and Firefox installer, Internet section of Kubuntu 11.10 menu lists some standard KDE tools: Kopete etc.
Let me here note another difference in Kubuntu 11.10. Many applications (Dolphin, Rekonq) do not have menu line. Instead, they have wrench icon on the right side, which opens menu. Is it latest fashion in applications - attempt to save some screen real estate for user? Unfortunately, or fortunately, this is not consistent. Some other applications still have classical menu line (Dragon Player, LibreOffice).
MultimediaAmarok is deafult audio player in Kubuntu 11.10. Dragon Player is also available, if you, like me, prefer simpler options.
Unfortunately, MP3s are not supported out of the box in Kubuntu 11.10. Instead, Amarok suggested me to search for the plugin. If you hoped for easy install, you should be disappointed. From the first look, search for additional plugin with codecs was successful. Pop-up window said "Do you want to install following plugin". But names of plugins were not listed. Bugga? This bugga continued when Amarok claimed that codecs were installed. MP3 still could not be played.
Dolphin file manager in Kubuntu 11.10 has preview panel for the files, and you can play music files right there. But for me it was not possible. Dolphin still had same dialogues for codecs installation, which didn't help.
The root for the issue was that repositories to hold necessary packages were not activated by default. You have to activate them! And, there is no note anywhere in the system about this. The easiest way (unless you want to edit sources file manually) is to call corresponding function in package manager.
Muon is package manager in Kubuntu 11.10. After activation of Universe and Multiverse repositories, dialogue window in Amarok actually listed a lot of packages for installation. And, of course, everything worked after proper installation, both in Amarok and Dolphin.
Flash is not included into Kubuntu 11.10 either. Of course, installation is pretty simple. Adobe site has all the necessary information and necessary package. Of course, after installation of Adobe Flash, you can watch YouTube and other videos.
|MP3 and Flash are supported |
fter installation or relevant packages
Other applicationsGraphics section of Kubuntu 11.10 menu contains more or less standard set of tools: LibreOffice Draw, Okular, Gwenview and KSnapshot. Unfortunately, no GIMP in default delivery.
There is only one game in corresponding menu section. This is KPatience.
Office tools in Kubuntu 11.10 are represented by LibreOffice 3.4.3 (very fresh version), and also some KDE-specific applications like KOrganizer and Kontact.
There is a standard set of System tools, like KPartition Manager, System Monitor etc. I'd like to separately mention here that Muon is not only name for Package Manager, as I wrote above, but also new name for Software Centre. Other than name, there are not many changes from Software Centre in previous Kubuntu versions from first look.
Of course, Kubuntu 11.10 comes with set of Utilities: KCalc, Kate, Ark etc.
As usual for Ubuntu and its derivatives, there is a tool for Startup disk creation. Basically, it is a tool to copy ISO image either from HDD or from CD itself to USB stick. This Startup disk creator did not work for me initially, but worked after reboot.
Yes, I had to reboot Kubuntu! It basically froze Live session after few attempts to install Chrome and some other applications. Not a good sign... I still think this is due to lack of space in /var directory. But I may be wrong.
Running from USBAnyway, startup USB was created. I tried to restart again, and this time I was able to boot my laptop from USB stick. Boot time is the same, which is confusing. I don't see particular reason why Kubuntu performed on USB run with same speed as when running from DVD. To be perfectly honest, I found very little win in speed compared to DVD version, not only in boot, but in other operations too.
Unfortunately, neither DVD-running nor USB-booted Kubuntu managed to switch itself off correctly. Both times it stopped at phase "Killing all processes [failed]". I believe it was linked to mounting of smbfs partition. Error is very similar to one I faced in (K)Ubuntu 11.04, and that's a shame it has not been fixed yet. Although, error wording is different.
Why do I think this is still the same error? Because I tried to boot from USB again, without mounting of network drive. And switch off went OK that time.
Persistence did not work properly in Live USB for me either. At least, WiFi connection was not remembered. Browsing history was not saved. That is quite strange... As far as I remember, persistence worked in previous releases of Kubuntu.
Laptop-specific hardwareHow did Kubuntu do with my laptop's semi-hardware buttons for volume and brightness control? Unfortunately, not better than most other operating systems.
Brightness control buttons (Fn-F7 and Fn-F8) worked fine.
But volume controls (Fn-F5 and Fn-F5) did not work. They again stuck on the low or high position, and then stopped responding at all.
What is my general feeling of Kubuntu 11.10?
I believe this version of Kubuntu is worst I've ever seen so far. At least, when it concerns Live run.
Yes, there are some positive signs:
- New version of KDE which has lots of nice features (like quick "docking" of application to taskbar).
- New version of LibreOffice.
- New kernel.
Instead, there are some annoying issues which are likely to affect users:
- Browser which keeps crashing, with no option to properly install any other in Live mode. Why Firefox is excluded?
- Lack of artwork - only one default desktop wallpaper.
- Issue with (un-)mounting of remote partitions after switch off the WiFi still persists.
- Issue with adding or even running of different tools on Live run.
- High system requirements.
Will I have same or similar issues with Ubuntu 11.10? Or they will be different? Let's see it next week! Stay connected, and subscribe to this blog!
Have you tried Kubuntu 11.10 already? What are your feelings?
If you have not tried it yet, but still want to try, why not order your own CD using Buy Linux CDs service?
Update: want to read more my findings about Kubuntu 11.10? Try this link.