I recently installed Ubuntu 11.10 – Oneiric Ocelot – on my work laptop, upgrading from Ubuntu 10.10.
I had read about how many people criticised it for making Unity the default window manager, but I had expected it otherwise to be quite a straight-forward upgrade.
It turned out to be quite a nightmare, however. Basically, it seems to be an odd mixture of annoying the power users, while allowing so many errors that ordinary users cannot use the system:
- My wireless card, which had worked flawlessly in earlier versions, didn’t work out of the box. Eventually I found some advice, namely to remove bcm43xx from blacklist.conf, and it’s now working fine again, but non-techie users would probably not have worked this out.
- The built-in webcam has stopped working, and I cannot find a way to make it work (although Ubuntu 12 beta testers report it should be working there).
- After I installed Skype and minimised it, it completely disappeared, and I had to kill it and start it up again to get the window back. It turns out Skype by default is blacklisted in the notification area. It was quite easy to fix, so long as you know how to edit notification area blacklists.
- Bash autocompletion is broken, and to fix it, you need to make a change to line 1587 in the system file /etc/bash_completion.
- Different from most flavours of Linux, Ubuntu 11 assumes the computer’s internal clock is set to local time rather than UTC. To fix that, you need to edit /etc/default/rcS.
- Most of the system preferences have disappeared, so you cannot by default change the default font size, make windows get the focus on mouse-over, or many other small details that were easy before. To get the same options as before, you now need to install either gconf-editor or gnome-tweak-tool, but if you’re not aware of these tools, you’ll be seriously annoyed for a while if you don’t like the default settings.
- Synaptic is now a separate install – by default you have to use the software centre, which means that many programs are unavailable by default.
- Also TEX Live is completely outdated – the included version is the one from 2009, not 2011, so if you’re serious about TEX, you need to install it separately.
I’m sorry, Ubuntu people, but this just isn’t good enough. You can’t remove all the power tools but still require users to know how to edit system files by hand.
I’m hoping Ubuntu 12 will be better, but otherwise I’ll be looking for another flavour of Linux next time.