Monday, February 13, 2012

Ubuntu 11.10

The look has not changed much in Ubuntu 11.10, but the features sure have. For those unable to use Unity 3D, Unity 2D is now available as well. The login manager is now LiteDM which is fast and efficient. A new window switcher has also been added and there have also been improvements to the lenses feature. Ubuntu as always, is free to try, and remains one of the top choices for Linux newcomers. For a long time Ubuntu was the most popular choice among Linux users, but for the time being the position may have been respectively passed on to Linux Mint. At least temporarily…

Ubuntu 11.10 Features
3.0.0-12.20 Ubuntu kernel, based on Linux v3.0.4 Upstream stable kernel.
Improved performance for ext4 filesystems.
With a few simple commands you can upgrade from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10.
A music lens which is integrated with Banshee has now been added to the dash.

Ubuntu 11.10 Applications
Banshee Media Player 2.2
Firefox Web Browser 7.0.1
Shotwell Photo Manager 0.11.4
Transmission BitTorrent Client 2.33
Totem Movie Player 3.0.1
Brasero Disc Burner 3.2.0
LibreOffice 3.4.3
Tomboy Notes 1.8.0
Empathy Instant Messenger 3.2.0
Thunderbird Mail Client 7.0.1

Ubuntu 11.10 Installation
When first booting the Ubuntu 11.10 live CD you will be prompted with a welcome screen asking if you would like to try Ubuntu with no changes to your computer, or you can begin installation. You can also change the language used for the Ubuntu installer. If you begin installation you will see a checklist for basic requirements, and a few options for updates and third-party software. Next you can manually or automatically configure your partitions. Then simply choose install now and the files will begin copying. You then have time to choose your location, your language, and input your user information. A brief slide show will entertain you while the installation finishes, then you can reboot.

Ubuntu 11.10 Desktop
As I said above, LightDM is now the default login manager and uses the Unity greeter. Gnome classic is no longer available, only Unity 2D or Unity 3D. After logging in you will see your primary panel with your system notification icons. And you will have your Unity launcher on the left side of the desktop. All applications can be found inside the Dash, and several launchers are available inside the Unity panel. The whole desktop is left quite clean, though I am still not very fond of the default wallpaper, or theme for that matter. Things are now far more stable, and as always the speed is certainly up to par.

Ubuntu 11.10 Menus
You can quickly search for all of your applications, music, and files using the Dash. The dash contains a search bar, and launchers for many of your applications. You can open the Dash by clicking on the Ubuntu logo that sits on the top of your Unity launcher panel. And now you can use the enhanced lens feature to narrow your searches. You can select one of the small icons at the bottom of the Dash to search everything, only your applications, only your music, or only your files and folders. There is also an advanced search feature that is accessible by clicking on the filter results button on the right side of the Dash search bar.

Ubuntu 11.10 Panels
A key feature of Ubuntu 11.10 is the Unity launcher located on the left hand side of the desktop. Launchers for all of your favorite applications as well as open windows will be located here. And you can add your favorite applications to the panel at any time simply by right clicking on an application inside the dash, then selecting keep in launcher. Items can also be dragged from the Dash into the Unity launcher. The launcher will often be hidden from view when you are working with full screen windows but you can always find it again by moving your mouse to the left side of the desktop.

Ubuntu 11.10 Software
Much has changed inside the Ubuntu software center. The interface has been re-designed for improved navigation. The toolbar has been upgraded, and top rated applications are now highlighted in the main window. Also the ability to filter software by top-rated, name, or date is now available. A stylish new banner has also been added to the top of the Ubuntu software center window. This banner is meant to inform users about new and popular applications. As always Ubuntu uses Debian packages, and users always have the choice of DPKG, APT, or Aptitude for installing software. But unfortunately the Synaptic package manager is no longer installed by default.

Ubuntu 11.10 File Manager
And not much has changed regarding the file manager, users will still get the speed and reliability of Nautilus. Nautilus of course is a great choice for new users because of maximized default functionality. You can launch Nautilus by clicking on the file manager icon inside the Unity dock, or click on a specific folder inside the dash. The Nautilus window is easy to navigate, and very user-friendly. All of your files and folders can be seen on the right hand side of the main window, and as usual there is a bookmarks panel on the left. A few important folders on your system are located inside the bookmarks section, and more folders can be dragged into the panel at any time for convenience.

Ubuntu 11.10 Themes
Using the Dash you can search for appearance settings to find your themes. Unfortunately only 4 themes are available by default, and you can no longer customize your themes directly through the user interface. Sadly that was one of my favorite features. The Ambiance, Radiance, High Contrast, and High Contrast Inverse themes are available. The Radiance theme can be seen in the screenshot, this is the only theme I find especially pleasing.

Ubuntu 11.10 Wallpapers
You can also change your desktop wallpaper from the appearance settings window. And thankfully there is a vast selection of beautiful backgrounds to choose from. Most are scenery and landscape wallpapers, but they are vivid and quite unique. Surely more can be added probably by dropping them into a wallpapers folder, but it seems the convenient interface options are gone. The interface seems to have been reduced and simplified to a point that it lost much of what made it great in the first place, of course that is my opinion. As always I’m sure things will continue to improve.

Ubuntu 11.10 Synopsis
I first installed Ubuntu during the 7.04 release, and it has been the primary distribution used on many of my systems since then. But for me at least, the Ubuntu days are numbered. Many of my systems are currently still stuck on the 10.10 release, at least until 10.10 becomes slightly more outdated. After that I may finally make the move to Linux Mint as my primary choice. Be sure to share your opinions.

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