Ubuntu is about to release a new version of their operating system, code-named Intrepid Ibex. It's due this coming Thursday, October 30.
I've got a list of niggling things that have been bothering me about the current Hardy Heron release. Since the biggest of these issues are related to hooking up a projector or external monitor, and I'm giving a guest lecture Wednesday evening, I decided to test-drive the Intrepid release candidate to see if they've resolved these issues.
It turns out, the answer is yes.
I've been running it for a few hours now, and I have to say, I'm finding a lot of nice little improvements. If you're new to Linux, please forgive the technical nature of a few of these notes... just some random unedited thoughts. Here are some things I'm really liking right now:
- External monitors. Finally, after being promised for the past three releases, I can add an external monitor and configure it through a GUI, without needing to edit a configuration file. I can extend the desktop across both monitors, or clone the screen. For the past year, I haven't been able to do this at all without the video display locking up. Now it's working great. Fantastic!
- Broadband card support. My USB Verizon broadband card works in Network Manager. All I have to do is tell it to connect, and it does--no configuration necessary. Previously I was using gnome-ppp, which took a lot longer to make the connection, and took some configuration.
- Appointments show up in the panel with the right colors. I've used Evolution for appointments for years. I have a bunch of different calendars loaded--different ones for work and social events, and the calendars of my employees. In Evolution, I set each calendar to a color so I can easily see which calendar an event is on. However, until Intrepid, these colors did not get used in the Gnome display--that used some random set of colors. Now they match. Small, but much appreciated improvement.
- Suspend/Resume is much quicker. While suspending the machine has worked pretty well for quite a while, under Hardy there was a lot of load that kept you from getting to work right away. If you had a few applications running, it could take 10 minutes before it was usable again! Under Intrepid, you can start using the applications immediately after starting up. I see that the system is under high load for a similar period of time, but the user interface is no longer sluggish at all, and the load seems to drop much quicker.
- Avant Window Navigator plugins work. I'm hooked on this little launcher utility, but the one available in the Hardy repositories didn't work with any plugins. With Intrepid, they're all there and work great.
- Firefox with Flash doesn't crash so much. Okay, this isn't anything to do with Intrepid, so much as tracking down the nspluginwrapper package, which allows Flash to crash without taking the browser down with it. I found this based on a how-to on getting Flash sound to work.
Which brings me to the problems. I've hit two pretty substantial problems. Both of them are more of a nuisance than any sort of show-stopper, but they are the kind of nuisance problems that might keep some people in Windows:
- Sound did not work correctly out of the gate. I first noticed this in a flash video. Here it is the second release with Pulse Audio, and it still doesn't work correctly without some manual configuration. To get it working, I followed a how-to on the Ubuntu forums, basically installing libao, padevchooser, and some other libraries, removing previous config files for alsa and pulse from my profile, and making libao use pulse by default. This only took a couple minutes, but for somebody unfamiliar with Linux, this might be a big barrier.
- Bluetooth. I have a bluetooth mouse, and hooking it up was a piece of cake. However, it doesn't remember the connection. I have to delete the bluetooth profile, and re-pair it every time I shut off the mouse or suspend the computer. I'm sure there's a pretty simple fix by editing a couple configs, but the point is, it should just remember that I've paired this device and not bother me again.
Those are the only two new issues I've seen appear in this release, so far. And I really only see one other major issue: I'm still seeing memory usage of Xorg creeping up as I use the system, especially after a suspend/resume cycle. It's currently up to 835M, which seems like an obscene amount of RAM for the graphical environment. I saw this same type of memory leak under Hardy, under similar conditions, but to Intrepid's credit, the system seems completely responsive and speedy. So it looks like I'm going to continue needing to log out and back in every couple days to free up the memory consumed by X.
Overall, I'm quite impressed, and not seeing any downsides to this release compared to Hardy, which was already pretty great.