Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Netbook - fails to impress

I've recently bought a new netbook, and with the new Ubuntu Netbook edition coming out, I thought I'd take it for a test. Unfortunately it completely failed to impress me within the first 30 minutes.

Disclaimer: I've been a big fan of Debian, and now Ubuntu (stability of Debian, but with ease of use) for a while. I believe Ubuntu is a great system, and it is still my Nr.1 Linux distribution of choice. All the problems listed below are no challenge for a technical person, but Ubuntu aims to support the casual user as well.

Disclaimer 2: The following is my personal definition of a netbook: It is a laptop

  • with a small screen
  • and little processing power
  • focussing on quick time-to-Internet
  • and long battery life

As my netbook currently runs a proprietary system, I used WUBI to install.

Blocker #1: WUBI downloaded from the WUBI page still had only Ubuntu 10.4 (that was on oct.11, where 10.10 was one day old). Only when accessing the Ubuntu download page i got the newest version. The main page now redirects there.

Ubuntu installed fine, at some time it rebooted and

Blocker #2: Windows boots up! The installer can create a boot menu entry, but it cannot set it to Linux to finish the installation?

Finally Ubuntu booted, I selected the "netbook" session and

Blocker #3: failed to start because my card did not support the necessary 3D features! Why does Ubuntu need a 3D graphics card on a Netbook? This collides with long battery life and low processing power. BTW: My Nvidia card is supported just fine, once i could log in the desktop session, install the proprietary driver, etc.... Why wasn't this done at install time?

As said, I had to log into the desktop session and

Blocker #4: got a cryptic error message about missing language packs. It gave me two choices: Either I install them now, or I have to do this later (hidden in some menu you instantly forget). This brings me to two questions: 1) Why wheren't those installed before? I did select my language. 2) Until this point I was never asked for my WiFi credentials, which would have enabled me to do the immediate install. After all, this is my portable, and I expect it to work without wires.

After setting all these up, I finally rebooted and

Blocker #5: was asked for a username and password! While this is fine for laptops and desktops, its a most-people-don't-want-this-on-a-netbook feature. I want to turn it on and surf the web, not wait, enter my password, and then have to wait again for the window manager to load.

Try finding the setting in the netbook remix window manager, guess what:

Blocker #6: Settings are only available in the Gnome (desktop) session.

Conclusion: Ubuntu still has ways to go before they can close Ubuntu Bug #1.