The new version of Ubuntu, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot (apparently oneiric means “Of or relating to dreams or dreaming”, so now you know), came out last week, and, after waiting a few days to allow the servers to recover from the initial influx of downloaders, I took the plunge and upgraded. As I wrote about 6 months ago, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the last version, 11.04, at least at first. I will admit that the Unity interface grew on me a lot as time went by though, although it still had flaws that bugged me. And it still does. It hasn’t really changed all that much, the main difference is that instead of the launcher having two separate buttons, one for Applications, one for Files, it now just has one, which launches a combined application and file finder thing. I’m still not convinced it’s any better, or even as good as, the old application menus it replaces, and not once did I use the file finder thing on the last version because I never have trouble finding my files; I store them in these things called “folders” which I then give a name relating to what’s inside, such as “Music” or “Photos”. It’s old-fashioned but it works.
A lot of the other changes are behind the scenes, but another immediately obvious change is the new log-in screen, which I quite like. Some other changes relate to new default programs, which doesn’t really affect me. I stopped using Rhythmbox for my music and switched to Audacious ages ago, so the fact that Rhythmbox has been ousted as the default player and replaced by Banshee doesn’t bother me. The same for Evolution being replaced by Thunderbird as the default email client, I do all my email through Gmail. The Synaptic package manager isn’t installed by default any more either, but it’s no bother to install it if you want. For new users I think that’s actually a good move, as you can easily screw things up by messing around with Synaptic, and the Ubuntu Software Centre is more than good enough for most people’s needs.
The downside to the new version is that I’ve encountered quite a few bugs since upgrading, as many as when I upgraded to 11.04 (i.e. a lot). A few of them have been fixed via updates over this past week, for example one which caused a window’s title bar to be un-clickable after the window had been minimised. But there are still some annoyances, the bar at the top of my screen is currently showing two battery indicators for example. I’ve also had problems trying to customise some things to the way I like them (and the way I had them in 11.04), it seems really easy to break something, so much so that I’ve decided to leave things the way they are for the moment. But by far the most annoying bug I’ve encountered is one which somehow restricts my laptop’s wireless connection to about 100KB/s. I’ve never had a problem with my Wi-Fi in previous Ubuntu versions, which makes this bug somewhat unexpected. Having read around a bit, it seems some people have had a similar problem that can be fixed by turning off the 802.11n support in their wireless driver, but that doesn’t apply in my case. Instead I think it’s this bug, which actually goes back over a year, and following some of the advice there has helped fix my problem, or at least make it bearable. I’m considering doing a fresh install to see if it helps with a few of the odd things I’ve encountered, but I’m lazy and I’d rather not, even though I have a separate
/home partition which means it should be quite straightforward. I think I’ll give it another week or so to see if a few more updates improve things, and in all likelihood I’ll report back here.