Wednesday, October 01, 2008

First Impressions of Intrepid Ibex



When Hardy first came out, I was somewhat disappointed. I was experiencing a large number of bugs and unusual system instability. I even listed some of my main complaints here and here.

I've continued to use Hardy, but I've had my eye on the next version of Ubuntu, code-named "Intrepid Ibex", which comes out at the end of the month (October). Rather than wait until it is entirely ready, two nights ago I decided to go ahead and update my entire system to Intrepid and file bug reports when needed.

(Although it is not recommended on production machines, the process of updating to the next version is really easy. It can be done running the following command: sudo update-manager -d)

So far, I've been pleased with my experience. There is nothing revolutionary about Intrepid, but it does feel a lot more stable than Hardy (ironically, even in its present alpha stage). In all honesty, it is the experience I was hoping for with Hardy. Better late than never, I guess.

For one, the whole distro seems to function better as a integrated whole. In particular I had lots of problems with PulseAudio in Hardy: crashing, applications not being properly configured to work with it, or worse yet, applications not even supporting it. Many of these problems seemed to have been fixed, although I'm still pissed with Audacity lack of PulseAudio support (come on Audacity developers - get with it already!).

One of my major complaints with Hardy was the continued instability of Flash on Firefox. I could hardly watch one or two videos on YouTube or CNN without my entire browser crashing. And its been 5 months, and it still hasn't been fixed in Hardy! But so far my experience with Intrepid has been a lot better - I've been browsing heavily for the past day and a half - watching lots of Flash-based video - and Firefox has yet to crash once. Bravo for fixing this! (Shouldn't you backport this fix to Hardy? Seriously.)

Regarding new features - there don't seem to be a great deal. They largely consist of the normal version updates on the applications included in Intrepid. For example the new version of Gnome is out, which offers tabbing in Nautilus among other things. Here are some other application updates I really like: VLC, Network Manager, and of course a newer Linux kernel. Nothing new really jumps out at me.

As of the version that I'm now testing, the Ubuntu developers have yet to finalize the artwork and theming to be included with Intrepid. They have updated the background to a darker grayish brown (which is ok, but nothing special) and they do include a new dark theme that I haven't really been able to get used to. Again, very incrimental.

There are some things that I was hoping would make it into this release but I'm doubtful will. OpenOffice 3 for one (though release candidate 3 just came out, so it might be). It has a bunch of new features that would make a nice addition to my Ubuntu experience, but even so I hope they don't decide to go with it anyway if it's not stable, like they did with Firefox last time.

I was expecting for more of a facelift of Ubuntu, with the addition of lots of good art and theming (or at least the ability to get themes easier). That said, I remain hopeful that more will make it in this release than is presently included.

I would also like major improvements to come to the Evolution client one of these days (though this is mainly work to be done for Gnome developers). In particular, I would like to see:
  • Two way syncronization with Google Calander and Contacts
  • Tab support
  • Better integration with other programs (e.g., Alarm Clocks support of birthdays should be able to access the ones in my contacts)
  • A list of other issues I've already mentioned here.
Overall, though, Intepid is a nice improvement over Hardy. In fact, my hopes for the Hardy release are now being satisfied by Intrepid. Kudos to all the Ubuntu developers!

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