Ubuntu 11.10 First Look (Oneiric Ocelot)

A couple of weeks ago I downloaded the upgrade to Ubuntu 11.10 - Oneiric Ocelot. The word Oneiric relates to dreams, and I'm not sure if this is wishful thinking on the part of Canonical, or if it hits right on the money.

Oneiric Desktop with Lens (and my own spiffy wallpaper)
 If you switched to the Unity desktop in Natty, then this upgrade will not be much of a shock for you. Indeed, Oneiric's version of Unity is a lot easier on the eyes than the previous release, and continues to refine the experience. Unity's "lenses" get an upgrade, making them more usable as well as more attractive. If you didn't switch, then get ready to, as there is no longer an option to switch back to Gnome. Gnome 2.x has been fully replaced with Gnome 3, and Unity is the only front-end that ships with Oneiric. Of course, you can find the Gnome 3 desktop on your own or use XFCE.

If you do, you'll be using the improved Ubuntu Software Center. (Unless you're a die-hard who still perfers Synaptic - which you will have to get on your own, as it's no longer installed by default) The Software Center continues to get better and faster, including a "Top Rated" section that makes use of social rating. The Software Center also supports OneConf, which lets you sync your applications across several machines.

Canonical continues to tweak small things as well; the shutdown button has changed to a gear, and includes a bunch of other (confusing) options. Also, there is no restart option on the menu itself - you have to select "Shut Down" and then you'll see it on the popup. The Dash button has lost it's place on the top taskbar and moves to the top of the dock Unity Launcher.

Classic Menu Indicator
(Ubuntu Studio)
 The Dash and its Lenses are better and faster, but are still not as intuitve and the Gnome menu or apps like Gnome-Do. While I had switched to Unity with Natty, I also use the Classic Menu Indicator package, which puts a nice button on the taskbar and re-creates the Gnome-style menus. Also, Evolution is gone, replaced by Thunderbird as the default mail handler. (I use Gmail for everything, so I don't really care.)

There are a couple of quirks, most notably (and annoyingly) with the notification balloons. They never bothered be before, but they do now. When I unsuspend, my wireless connection picks right up, but the notification system doesn't seem to get the message. I get the "disconected" balloon, and it won't go away for a long time, unless I manually close it out. Minor, but annoying. Also, there are occaisions when I have to click a button on the Launcher more than once. Other than that, it seems pretty bulletproof.

All in all, a minor but functional upgrade. If you're still using Maverick and waiting to test the waters, it's safe to jump in. If you want to wait, the next LTS release will be 12.04 (Precice Pangolin) in April '12.


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