Well it’s time for my generic review of the Karmic release of Ubuntu, 9.10.
This release for me is not an LTS and I wasn’t expecting massive stability. Plus I did something which I normally never do, I reinstalled the first week. Normally I wait a month before doing that and in the past waiting served me well. I think I might go back to doing that.
So there were a couple of problems with the release from the start:
The first problem was that my lovely gdm theme was not only gone, but could never be gotten back. I really liked the blue and green, very calming. I was horrified by what I saw as it’s replacement, a black and white poorly compressed gradient ultra art, some of a post modernists best work. But certainly not my taste. I saw it as not only ugly, but an affront to the millions of colours my computer is able to display, it’s 8 bit grey scale colour pallet so clearly illustrating why you should never use gradients with gif files. I think the technical problem of colour count is fixed in updates, it seems to be a lot smoother on the eye.
The second was the Ubuntu Software Center, my main problem with it was as a teacher. It’s different, very different. I used to teach my students that all you needed to do was think of the Add/Remove programs menu item as an expanded view of the Applications menu it’s self. Where you can see all the same categories and pick items you want to see in those categories.
I’ve had a number of local users come up to me and complain that they can’t add or remove programs any more. I ask them to walk me through what they’re looking at, and invariably it’s a problem with the design of the new center. They can’t find the button on the right, nor understand how the flow of it works. I’ve posted an image of design thoughts to the right. I’m not yet convinced that anyone is listening on the UI front, but before I post another blog about that. I want to wait until after UDS, I want to first talk with the Canonical UI team and with Mark about his vision for Ubuntu design. Hopefully he’ll be able to dispel my current negative interpretation of Mark’s design community ideas.
Things I like about Karmic, well I like the background changer, it’s moved forwards so you can now have a selection of items. this might make it easier to integrate the gnome wall changer without the hacks I currently employ to get around crontab/xorg/gconf conflicts. We’ve got a much better selection of backgrounds too, really well done.
I like the new version of inkscape, very functional. I like that evolution still works with google mail and calendars. Although is still a pig using sqlite instead of proper backend full text and field indexing. The notifier is ok, I tend not to notice it much and it’s not something I’ve ever cared much about. Design wise, it’s ok. Use wise, I like being able to use the notify python lib to prod notify events over the network to my students. I do like the new improvements to xorg, even if the nv driver doesn’t suspend any more. The new icon theme has grown on me, I think it’ll be better for advocating to people who expect a more serious operating system.
So in conclusion, I think Karmic is a solid stepping stone forward, but it’s not quite there with some things. More resources are needed to pull of the kind of magic that the Ubuntu community and I think Mark himself wants to see. I’m thinking some economic involvement from users would go a long way towards speeding up development and being able to spend more time on fixing problems as they crop up.
So how am I doing on my highly fantastical wish list for my own computer?
- Working calendar that I use, DONE.
- File system level field and full text indexing, NOT YET.
- System level online service integration, NOT YET
- Internet status, NOT YET
- User data handling, NO
- Data source handling, NO
- Data pattern standards for configs, NO
- Hardware viewing with user contributable data, NO
- Face recognition pam and gdm modules, NO
- Face change password authentication, NO
- Encouragement to contribute money or time to projects, NO
I have some very strange ideas, it’s true. But you gotta aim high for your dream team.