Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

The next release of Ubuntu, October 2011, is Oneiric Ocelot.

Reviews are here and here. Release notes are here. The Ubuntu home page is here. The conventional Download page is here.

The Unity (mobile phone) desktop is mandatory now with no alternatives. Thunderbird is now the default email client. ‘Dash Home’ is the circle at the top left of the screen: click it to open menus. There are additional drop-down menus activated by clicking your login name or the On / Off gear at the top right side of the screen.

The best way to install is to download the .torrent file which we got in about 10 minutes. Torrents are much faster than conventional download due to server load issues, especially the day of a new release. The .torrent and conventional .iso files can be found here. Burn it to a USB memory stick with System/Administration/Startup Disk Creator and when you insert it into a computer with Ubuntu already running the computer will announce that it has found media to upgrade and ask if you wish to so do.  Alternatively burn it to CD with a right click on the .iso file and select Write to Disk. When installing say ‘no’ to update from the Internet — we ran into some missing files when we let it do that — update later.

My first hack at it was to simply insert the USB drive while Natty Narwhal was running. It autodetected the availability of upgrade files and I let it start. Regrettably, I had to walk away for a bit as it was 3AM and I was falling over asleep, so I closed the laptop lid and went to bed. At 8:00AM the laptop was still running, but the screen was faint white and I couldn’t bring it out of sleep or whatever it was doing. So I did a clean install / format in the same partition as the original system. My thoughts as I configured that system after its first boot follow.

Install was painless — took about 20 minutes while I read the comics on-line. Login screen was kind of neat — a floating box with my login in it over an edit box for my password. Tried to see if filezilla is installed by typing a command line “apt-get install filezilla” in the search box at the top of the screen — click the round button at the top left corner of the screen to open up the menu. Nothing.

OK, so I have work to do, and I need a command line to get it done efficiently. Control-Alt-F2 to switch to a new login. Login there, then immediately “sudo passwd root” and set the password to something I know (Ubuntu always starts the root password as something random you don’t know so every command you have to put up with “sudo” and entering your password. Most people figure out rather quickly that they can “sudo passwd root” once and save a lot of messing around. “su -” and now that I have a command prompt and I can get some work done.

Install FileZilla “apt-get install filezilla”. Perfect, no problems, installed. Switched back to my GUI with CTL-ALT-F7. My gibberish in the search box is still at the top, but there is a seriously blurred out login box in the middle of the screen. I re-entered my password and it let me in. Need to kill that screensaver thing, or at least set the timeout to a reasonable time. The touch pad on my HP Compaq 6910p laptop no longer is working. The buttons by the touch pad that I use to click are also dead. I can move the cursor with the eraser in the middle of the keyboard but can’t get a response clicking with either set of buttons. The pop-up hint boxes show up when I point at things. Weird. Back to try more after I eat a bowl of chocolate pudding.

Killed XORG. Logged in again on the GUI. the touchpad now works. OK, so was this from switching to another terminal with the CTL-ALT-F2? Try it again. Switched out with CTL-ALT-F2 and back with CTL-ALT-F7. Nope. Everything is fine.

Now I need to grab my .thunderbird folder from my desktop to initialize my notebook. Got an error creating the folder on my notebook, which is to be expected as it already exists. I grabbed the .bluefish and .Skype folders and some documents and projects while I was in there too. The throughput is impressive even for being on a 100M network close to my desktop: everything under a gigabyte long is transferring in sub-second speeds while gigabyte size files are travelling at about a second a gigabyte. I know the NICs are 100MHz but I thought the switch was 10/100: must be 10/100/1000. It doesn’t take me long to eat a bowl of warm chocolate pudding, but the files almost were done before I finished it.

So the file transfers were awesome. Now to close FileZilla and see if I can connect using Nautilus to pull over the .filezilla folder. I might get away with it using FileZilla, but I want to know if there is still an equivalent to the “Connect to Server” we used to have. And there it is, at the top. The menu appears on the top task bar ONLY when you mouse over. File / Connect to Server.  Used ssh2 protocol. And no problem. Find .filezilla and copy it. Use CTRL-H to reveal the hidden dot files. CTRL-drag to copy, and it asks if I want to merge because there is already a .filezilla folder, I say yes. Blink. That was it? Open FileZilla: (upper left corner) Home circle, then Internet Apps, then FileZilla. Wow. All my customers are in there all right. Connect to a web site. Everything works: no problem. Try ThunderBird. Some thing, no problem, everything is there: mail, accounts, filters. Awesome. Truely awesome.

The menu bar that hides off the left side of the screen as if on a cell phone made itself annoying as I tried to use TBird: every time I got close to the left edge of TBird to change mail folders the stupid menu things would jump out and cover the folders up. It would be OK if it either stayed on the screen, on top, all the time or stayed out of the way unless I pressed the Window key, but the hide and seek behavior is annoying. Just noticed TBird was still running on my desktop when I copied that folder.

I decided that I didn’t need ten years worth of email on my notebook, so I right click Local Folders and pick Settings, then set TBird to delete messages older than 120 days. There was a bit of weirdness: the window OK and Cancel buttons were off the bottom of the screen and when I tried to drag the window up by its title bar it kept maximizing the window. Another annoyance, but so far the good is much more than the bad. I’ll see about changing some annoyances in CompizConfig Settings Manager later.

Need my code editor, so CTL-ALT-F2 again and install BlueFish. “apt-get install blusfish”. Perfect. Hmm. It’s no where to be found on the menu though.

Start FireFox, set my home page to jdnash.com,  and add the Web Developer plugin. No problem.

Add some accounts using the GUI. The System Settings icon is the wrench over a gear at the bottom of the hide-and-seek menu bar. Open User Accounts. That dialog box works a bit oddly — the right side of the box appears to be just text showing the Account Type, Language, and Password HOWEVER if you mouse over then the text becomes a drop down combo list box or edit box, as fits the item.

Now I need an antivirus program, so I tested the “Software Center” which is on the hide-and-go-seek menu at the left side of the screen. The Software Center looks like a shopping bag with bubbles foaming out of the top. Colorful “suggestions” of which programs I would like to install pop up, and I see right off that FileZilla is there but it is marked that we already installed it. that is as it should be. I also noticed GPartEd, VLC Media Player, The Gimp Image Editor, and Chromium (Google) Web Browser which I want,  so I installed them. Click, click. I also cruised down the Highest Rated list and installed some more tools that I normally use.

Now, getting the things I use constantly on the “hide-and-go-seek” Launcher bar. I use Chromium constantly, and FileZilla, and BlueFish, but I rarely use Software Center and never use Ubuntu One (cloud) because I really do not want any private data exposed, and I know a ‘cloud’ is just a sales name for  a file server. I right clicked on the ones I want to remove from the ‘hide-and-go-seek’ launcher bar and unchecked ‘Keep in Launcher’ to remove them. To add programs to the launcher simply start the program so that its icon appears in the launcher, then right click that icon and check “Keep in Launcher”. Done.

For the most part it looks like this can be made to work. We we see as I do web development. I’m not ready to erase my desktop and commit to it quite yet. We’ll add Skype and a camera later and add to this report. I tried the work around to restore the Zoom functionality to the desktop that I reported in http://jdnash.com/2011/05/zoom-in-ubuntu-natty/ but it no longer works. You can get something like the Gnome desktop back by installing it as “apt-get install gnome-panel”. Refer to TomBuntu at  http://tombuntu.com/index.php/2011/09/11/install-the-classic-desktop-in-ubuntu-11-10/ for details. I still need to research how to activate the fingerprint reader to authenticate.

If you have experiences with Ubuntu, feel free to register and leave a comment.

NOTES: Unity interface is Mostly Harmless. So far the only significant annoyances for me:

1. No Zoom functionality. There are web blogs that claim it, but I have not got one to work yet.

2. Hide and Seek launcher bar. Jumping in and out to cover up stuff is annoying. Either stay on the screen all the time or stay off the screen unless I press the Super button.

3. Lack of a long launcher bar to hold all my typical apps is annoying. The time needed to find each app in the menu system is wasted. The intent was no doubt to better organize programs, but it makes it awkward to locate and start anything not on the small launcher.

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