Just though I share some first impressions about my upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). The upgrade process itself wasn’t the best experience ever unfortunately. After the upgrade, I couldn’t even start up anymore. As it turns out, during the update process my GRUB bootloader got corrupted. After a bit of searching, I found an easy solution: the Boot-Repair disc. Simply download the ISO and burn it on CD (yes, you do need access to another computer). After booting my computer using the CD, Boot-Repair let me fix the issues with a simple click.
Having that out of the way, I could finally have a look at the changes. Precise Pangolin is a long-term support version, which means it will be supported for the next 5 years on both desktop and server. Apparently there are some significant improvements to the stability and speed of the Unity interface, but to be honest, I don’t really notice much difference besides some smoother visuals.
The main new feature is probably the Unity’s new head-up display feature (HUD). The HUD is a combined search box and application launcher that provides similar functionality to GNOME Do or Spotlight on Mac OS X. When the user presses the Alt key, a search box pops up from the Unity launcher and presents different actions, based on the input. This happens as the user types.
An interesting concept. For now it is too far from my usual way of working, i.e., I simply never think about pressing that Alt key. On the other hand, I got used to the the Dash menu fairly quickly.
Talking about the Dash menu, that got a few additional lenses (customized search filters that are available when users click on the Ubuntu logo at the top of the launcher or use the super key / Window key). Besides the default lenses there are a number of other lenses available. The two I found particularly handy are the Recoll lens (proving an alternative interface to the powerful Recoll desktop search engine) and the Dash-based Calculator (providing a handy alternative interface to the default calculator).
I mostly use the default programs from the Ubuntu software center or ppa‘s. However, the latest versions of GDAL, QGIS and GRASS aren’t available or in the configuration I want, so I compile those myself. It is always a question whether an update of the OS will break dependencies. As it turned out, it did. But simply running the whole ./configuration – make – sudo make install again solved the problems.
So was the upgrade worth it… well, the changes aren’t world shattering, but it does include a few new potentially handy features. And of course it is always good to keep your software updated. But probably next time I will wait till I have some time to do a completely clean install, to avoid problems I have been experiencing this time.