Ubuntu Natty, First Impressions

This release of Ubuntu is probably the most ambitious release of Ubuntu.  Ever.  This release represents the roll-out of Unity to the regular desktop user.  It also is the merging of the Netbook and Desktop environments, so there’s only one distribution of Ubuntu.

I installed beta 1 last night and was unable to actually use it until this morning.  There are bad and good things about it, and most of these problems will be fixed by the full release.  This is the first beta, and is not really fit for standard consumption.

That said, here are the issues I have:

  • Compiz crashes.  About 3 times, mostly when doing alt-tab or trying to deal with windows.
  • Gwibber crashed twice.  Not sure if this is related to me running Natty or running the daily build of gwibber.
  • Empathy crashes.  Seems to crash mostly when I’m trying to interact with the program via the indicator-applet.  It’s segfaulting for some odd reason.
  • No clock.  I think this was a problem with the install, as I had to install indicator-datetime after the upgrade.
  • No weather applet.  I installed weather-indicator and I’m good.  It crashed once.
  • Having a second monitor makes it wonky to work with the launcher.  It’s hard to explain, but I run the second monitor to the left of my main laptop, and the launcher is on the left of the screen.  I have to try to hit a certain spot on the main monitor to get the launcher to show.  This is because of the way I use my monitors, I’m sure.

I’ve filed three bug reports already, and that’s the reason I’m running the beta.  They need all the help they can use to get this working properly.  I’d rather have a couple of issues (which DID NOT bring down my machine, by the way) and help make Natty an awesome release.

Note that two of my issues were taken care of after installing two packages.

Now, the totally awesome things:

  • Clean.  This desktop is devoid of any clutter.  I like having an auto-hide launcher.  I should have done this with Docky.
  • Speedy.  They’ve improved Unity enormously from Maverick netbook.  I really really really see the speed improvements.  Some are from using Compiz, I’m sure, but some are from squashing bugs.
  • Indicators.  I love them.  ‘Nuff said.
  • LibreOffice.  Finally.  I’ve turned so many people onto this software package, it’s insane.  They’re all like “it’s free?!?” and I’m like, “yes!!”  Then we install it and it opens almost everything under the sun.  It’s awesome.
  • I really love the way you switch desktops.  It’s a little bit different from what I’m used to, but, it’s very slick.  It looks really cool.
  • I love the auto-hiding of the launcher.  Oh, I mentioned this already?  I really love it.
  • I’m loving the global menu.  Yeah, I might be crazy, but I do like it.  I didn’t think I would like it.
  • The blue envelope icon for new messages is different, and I think I like it.
  • Compiz settings.  There’s a default setting that allows for the window snapping like you get with Windows Aero.  Now, I’m sure Ubuntu will be accused of copying, but hot damn, that’s one of the most awesome things from Windows 7, and I’m quite pleased that it’s default in Ubuntu now.
  • Firefox 4.  It. Is. Awesome.  (Though I’m still using Chromium; I go back and forth.)
  • Network Manager Applet has gotten a revamp and it looks great.

How about a screenshot?  Yes, I think that’s a good idea.


This is the whole screen including both of my monitors.  Notice the launcher in the middle.  It’s actually on the left on my laptop screen, but I have my second monitor off to the left.  This is a clean desktop.  I’m using the Radiance theme with the standard icons.  The art team has done an awesome job with the look of the main themes (Radiance and Ambience).  I love them both, and I go back and forth between them depending on what wallpaper I have.  The wallpaper is from SimpleDesktops.  I’m running the aforementioned weather-indicator, empathy, and gwibber.  I’m also running Tomboy Notes (which I cannot live without), as well as Chromium, gpodder, the movie player (I’m listening to podcasts), BOINC, and Xchat.  My panel has been extended across both of my monitors.  Not sure if I quite like that, but it makes it easy to deal with windows on each monitor.

Oh, I almost forgot.  The system settings have all been added to a “program” where you can get at everything.  See here:


Control Center.

Overall?  This release of Ubuntu is pretty exciting and different.  I would not advise using the beta right now, unless you’re interested in filing bugs.  If you want to upgrade, either go get an iso here or hit alt-F2 and type:

upgrade-manager -d

and let it run through the updates.

BE WARNED: I got an error after I upgraded to Natty when I ran:

sudo apt-get update

The error is:

GLib-GIO:ERROR:/build/buildd/glib2.0-2.28.4/./gio/gdbusconnection.c:2279:initable_init: assertion failed: (connection->initialization_error == NULL)



You’ll have to use the Software Center OR Synaptic to do updates.  I don’t know what this error means, but it’s documented here.  So, just be forewarned about that.

Go out and upgrade if you’re game.  Enjoy this release, and report some bugs!