What I think of Ubuntu 10.4
I’ve been using Ubuntu since the 6.06 beta. It is my main operating system on my desktop at home, computer in the lab, and my laptop. Normally, I do distribution upgrades. This shields me from a lot of the changes happening around me; the user experience doesn’t change that much when I’ve already got everything setup how I want. However, I just had to do a fresh install on my desktop. While my home directory is backed up, I am currently looking at a default user desktop. So, what do I think?
To be honest, I am not all that impressed with 10.4. Why you ask?
Font rendering in Firefox is broken
The first thing I notice with fresh Linux distribution is both the choice of default fonts, and the default font rendering. This is no problem, Gnome’s appearance dialog lets me easily configure anti-aliasing and sub-pixel smoothing how I want. There’s just one problem: Firefox completely ignores these settings!
To be more specific, it ignores the font smoothing settings and does it’s own, dog ugly version. There is a bug report for this here. By the looks of things, there is a workaround, but I haven’t tried that yet. The workaround involves removing config files in /etc, and running a console command to reconfigure fontconfig.
This is a ridiculous oversight when Firefox is one of the flagship applications shipping with Ubuntu.
Update Manager thinks it’s the most important app on the system
This technically was introduced in an earlier version, I’m just surprised they haven’t changed the default behaviour by now. See, Update Manager pops up it’s main window if it finds updates it thinks you should install, on top of whatever you happen to be doing. This is both intrusive, and annoying. I don’t have any data, but I’m willing to bet users are more likely to dismiss the dialog instead of installing updates when it gets in their way.
This is a similar problem with Windows deciding it needs to reboot after an update, nomatter what you think to the contrary. I understand the Ubuntu devs are worried that the bright red icon in the notification area isn’t enough to get people to click. However, putting it in their face is even worse, as Windows has shown with the Cancel/Allow UAC dialogs. People don’t read dialogs! A much better solution would be to put the lovely new notification system to use. Just a subtle notification message every 10 minutes or whatever would be much more affective, without getting in everyone’s way.
Nautilus’s Address Bar is missing!
What the hell!? Stop with this Apple induced breadcrumb navigation nonsense. I want to type a path into an address bar. In previous versions of Ubuntu, there was a button to toggle between breadcrumbs and textual address bar. In 10.4, that button is gone. The only solution is to enter the following into a console:
gconftool-2 --type=Boolean --set /apps/nautilus/preferences/always_use_location_entry true
Of course, you need to enter a similar command to get back to breadcrumbs. Here’s what I really don’t understand: Ubuntu is a distribution that specifically tries to remove the need to go to the command prompt. By removing a single toggle button, they have removed the ability to enter paths directly, something that most of the people migrating to Ubuntu (Windows users) have always been able to do. Just put the button back.
My iPod doesn’t show up in Banshee
Arg! I’ve been having this problem intermittently for a while. I also admit that Banshee isn’t a program installed by default. But I don’t like Rhythmbox, and would really like Banshee to work again.
Window controls on the left
I hate this on Macs, and I hate it here too. Please give an easy option in Appearance Properties to flip the location of the buttons. Luckily, New Wave, my theme of choice still has the controls on the right.
The mish-mash 10.4 theme
I love the look of Ubuntu in 9.10. The grey was a cool getaway from the orange. 10.4 kind of builds on this, and in other ways pulls it in another direction. Now there’s added purple!. The login screen is the ugliest Ubuntu login screen ever. The default Ubuntu theme seems to be a mashup of three different themes: The cool black stuff from 9.10, the new purple stuff, and the old orange Human theme. Pick one, and refine it please.
Still need to open gconf-editor to get Computer, Home, Trash icons on desktop
If you aren’t familiar with gconf-editor, it is basically regedit for all of Gnome’s settings. Apparently in Ubuntu 10.4, you still need to use this to get icons such as Computer, Home, and Trash to appear on the desktop. This is incredibly confusing to new people (I just happened to remember what keys needed to be set). In my opinion, opening gconf-editor is worse than using the console, something the Ubuntu UI guys are dead against.
While we’re on the topic, the way you change the massive icon size on the desktop is to edit the Default Zoom Level in Nautilus’s settings. This is also incredibly unintuitive.
Is there anything good?
I like getting new versions of all the programs I use every day. Again, Ubuntu 10.4 doesn’t disappoint here. Everything is nice and fresh. There’s nothing really surprising here.
This is my least favourite default Ubuntu install since 6.06. I feel some of these things are so obvious it’s almost strange mentioning them. I’ll again point out that Ubuntu is my OS of choice for actually getting work done. I have a Windows virtual machine for the sole purpose of running Office and Photoshop. I use Ubuntu every day, and really want to see it get better. I speak up, because I care. So with that, please keep the flaming to a minimum, and sorry about the rant.