A (very) first impression of Ubuntu 11.04

Just installed the latest Ubuntu, “Natty Narwhal” (version 11.04) on my laptop. As has been written already many times, “Natty Narwhal” is a significant departure in terms of User Interface from previous versions. There has been heated discussions between opponents and proponents of the new interface, but from what I can see I think I am going to like it. It offers a good looking interface (yes, however irrelevant it might be, I do like some eye candy) with easy access to your applications and open documents. Also installing indicator applets like CPU frequency is better implemented I think.

Perhaps most important, installing was a breeze. It took less then 20 minutes to install and everything is working out of the box, including wireless internet connection, bluetooth, camera and microphone.

An often heard complain is about the default programs. I for one don’t care much. It really can’t get much easier to install your favourite program from the Ubuntu Software Centre. It really functions very similar to the much touted Apple app store or Android market, but with of course virtually all programs available for free.

One of my problems with Ubuntu is that it does not always offer the latest versions, especially GRASS GIS and QGIS. I therefore started to install these from source to optimize them for my system and to be able to stay with the latest version. It does make updating Ubuntu a bit more tedious and I have yet to find out how things will go this time. I’ll write an update when I have installed both.

It is just a first impression, but it is a good one nonetheless. It will take a little bit of getting used to, but at the end it might actually do as advertised; simplify day to day work on the computer.

Update: One of the things that needs most getting used to is the global menu or AppMenu. The AppMenu is an applet which removes the menu from the application windows and places it on the top panel. This results in more vertical screen space, but might require more moving up and down with the mouse. I’ll have to see how this works out in practice, but what I really found annoying is that by default, LibreOffice doesn’t uses the AppMenu, making it inconsistent with the rest of the desktop. You can change this, see this page how to tweak / fix this or a whole lot more things.

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About pvanb

I am a tropical forest ecologist with a focus on spatial and temporal patterns and processes at population and ecosystem level. I am furthermore very interested in issues related to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and natural resources under current and future climates. I have worked in the Middle East (Syria and Lebanon) and South America (Brazil) and in Eastern Africa (Kenya).
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4 Responses to A (very) first impression of Ubuntu 11.04

  1. andrew says:

    I you want to avoid installing from source you can also install up to date GIS packages using the UbuntuGIS PPA (https://launchpad.net/~ubuntugis). Not all packages for Natty have been built yet(Quantum and a few others are available in the unstable repository), but they should be done in the near future.

    • pvanb says:

      Yes, I tried that some time ago. Problem as I remember was that it didn’t contain very updated versions, but that might have changed of course. Another reason I preferred (at the time) to install from source was that using the PPA I had no clue about the installation settings. E..g, does it install with ‘enable-largefile’, which version of gdal, etc… I guess I could figure out, might do that if installing from source turns out to be too painful.

  2. Jan says:

    Hi Paulo

    Nice, you made a clean install?

    Greetings from tropical Arnhem

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