Enterprise Linux Log

Apr 11 2011   5:00PM GMT

Ubuntu 11.04 beta testers divided over Unity

Nick Martin Nick Martin Profile: Nick Martin

In the short time since the release of Ubuntu 11.04 beta, the OS has received mixed reviews. Some testers say it is the worst Ubuntu beta release ever, while others say they are impressed by its new features.

What there seems to be little disagreement about is that Unity may take some getting used to. One of the biggest changes for 11.04 is that Unity, and not the GNOME shell, will be the default desktop interface. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth explained this change last October when he said the GNOME shell was heading in the wrong direction. Unity was originally released with Ubuntu 10.10 as an alternative interface for netbooks leaving some to wonder how it will perform on a desktop system.

Ivan Wright has been an Ubuntu user for the last 18 months, and didn’t waste any time installing the 11.04 beta on his system – and then posting his experiences in a series of YouTube reviews.

“Initially I didn’t like the new Unity interface in 11.04, particularly in the early stages of development it was very buggy and slow,” Wright said. “I thought the space saving features, which were great for netbook computers, would be wasted and cause inconvenience on a desktop computer. Although once I actually started using the system I found it was absolutely fine and easy enough to use.”

As can be expected with any betas, Natty Narwhal does have some glitches, and Wright runs into many of those hiccups in his videos. Even so, Wright also says his past experience with Ubuntu betas makes him confident the issues will be resolved before the full release.

Another 11.04 tester, Antoon Freche, has also come across his share of glitches. Many of 11.04’s troubles are already well known (nVidia support problems), but others continue to frustrate Freche and other users.

“I’ve had quite a few programs crashing. Those popped up with the opportunity to provide feedback, but I’ve had these feedback forms crash on me too … It’s kind of annoying. The system that should be there to gather problem information just fails to get relevant data,” Freche said.

Freche also has mixed feelings on Unity.

“Unity itself doesn’t always do what I expect. This might be related to wrong expectations or me just not understanding the ideas behind this new desktop interface,” he said.

Wright and Freche’s feelings on having to “get used to Unity” may come to typify the experience of 11.04 converts, and we may not really know how Natty Narwhal will perform until the final release, but it appears the developers have some work to do before launch (which is scheduled for later this month).

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