Ubuntu 11.10 'Oneiric Ocelot', Reviewed
Ubuntu 11.10, code-named 'Oneiric Ocelot', launched last October. Although this is the second version of Ubuntu to employ the Unity graphical user interface (GUI), it is the first that does away with the optional GNOME 2 GUI. Unity was developed in-house by Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. While we welcomed a change from the aging GNOME 2 desktop, Unity was not without its kinks.
How tepid was the reception? According to DistroWatch's page hit ranking, Linux Mint, a Ubuntu-derivative distribution, has surpassed the popularity of Ubuntu for more than 12 months. This is largely attributed to backlash from users unhappy with Unity.
Merriam-Webster's definition oneiric is “of or relating to dreams”. Today, we see whether the first Unity-only version of Ubuntu is a reimagined dream or a nightmare to be avoided.
First, let's get up to speed on the latest Ubuntu-related news.
Between the complaints about Unity and tablet-oriented speculation, Ubuntu has made some serious waves over the past few months. Canonical even had a presence at CES this year, where it announced Ubuntu TV.
More recently, Ubuntu's founder, Mark Shuttleworth, announced yet another extreme departure from standard UI conventions. While we don't care for Unity's Mac OS X-style global menu in place of the standard menu bar, we're not sure this is the solution:
But all of this is in the future, and some of it may never even happen. Remember Ubuntu Light and “windicators”?
So, we're back to a verdict on where Ubuntu stands today. Is Unity any better than it was in Natty? How is touch input progressing? How does this latest distribution perform? We have another dissection of the user interface, and we also go hands-on with Oneiric using a touchscreen tablet. And while we typically benchmark the previous release and most recent LTS our Ubuntu reviews, this time, we're going to hold Ubuntu 11.10 up against its competition: Microsoft Windows.
All of our Linux benchmarks are also Windows benchmarks. So, for the first time, we get to see how Ubuntu compares to Windows 7. As an added bonus, at the request of our readers, we threw an Nvidia-based graphics card into the gaming tests for comparison to AMD's hardware. Before we get to the benchmarks, though, let's take a look at what makes this version of Ubuntu different from 11.04. We have a lot to cover: Wubi, Unity, the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu One, uTouch, and a slew of new default applications all play a part in our review of Ubuntu 11.10.