Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 - I Still Don't Like It

Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 - I Still Don't Like It

Summary: My intention today was to write a short piece about having loaded the latest Ubuntu Precise Pangolin pre-release onto various of my computers. Not much commentary, because I don't want to "review" software that is still in development, and not much detail because I'm honestly not much of an Ubuntu user any more.


My intention today was to write a short piece about having loaded the latest Ubuntu Precise Pangolin pre-release onto various of my computers. Not much commentary, because I don't want to "review" software that is still in development, and not much detail because I'm honestly not much of an Ubuntu user any more. But then I loaded it on my "main" laptop system, whch is on my desk with an external monitor attached and... well... it's going to turn out to be a bit of a rant.

I have two displays configured on this system - the laptop display and an external monitor. I use them both extensively, with every Linux distribution I have loaded, or have ever had loaded for that matter, and even with Windows. My preferred configuration is to have the "default" desktop on the laptop display, with whatever panels, menus, icons and other decorative bits on it, leaving the larger external display completely free for workspace. But now, after loading Ubuntu 12.04 and telling it not to mirror the displays, I get this:

Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2

Who the heck told anyone that I wanted the Unity Panel and Launcher on BOTH DISPLAYS? Setting aside for a moment the fact that I don't like Unity in the first place, I don't want the Panels and Paraphenalia to be shown on both displays for ANY operating system, period! I've more or less gotten used to Ubuntu's high-handedness, dictating to users what they want, or at least what they are going to get whether they want it or not, but this is just too much. Where is the logic? What purpose is this supposed to serve? For my normal use, the two displays are side by side, does it make sense to have the decoration on both? Another situation where I typically two displays is when I am making a presentation (connected to a beamer) or a slide show (connected to a television or other large monitor). Does it make sense to have the decoration shown on the second monitor in either of those cases? NO! In fact, I'm having a very difficult (impossible) time thinking of ANY situation where it would be a good idea, or useful in any way.

Trying to move beyond this extremely aggravating mis-feature, and accomplish at least some of what I originally set out to do...

This is the first Pangolin pre-release that I have actually been able to load on any of my systems, so I suppose that is progress. Until now, ubiquity (the Ubuntu installer) always crashed when it got to disk partitioning, apparently because it didn't like the number of partitions I have on my disks. This time it got through that, so well done Canonical, you have re-fixed a bug which I first reported and was previously fixed about six or seven releases ago.

So far I have loaded it on this Fujitsu S6510, the Samsung N150 Plus, Acer Aspire One 522 and the HP Pavilion dm1-3105 with no problems. However, it would not load on the Samsung NF310 - it gets to the step where it should want me to choose a picture for my account (or take a picture with the built-in camera) and it just hangs forever. I have no idea why, I've tried to look into it a bit, but it seems to be just looping and eating more and more memory until it hangs the system completely. I also loaded it on the Samsung 305U and it seemed to work ok, but the wireless networking wouldn't connect. That is not unique to Ubuntu, though, I have the same problem with every other Linux distribution I have tried.

A few hours of using it on several different systems hasn't done anything to change my about Ubuntu and Unity. I have seen a number of articles since development of 12.04 started, going on and on about the wonderful improvements being made to Unity, but I don't see much of a difference in it. Thinking back now, it seems to me that most, if not all, of those articles were written by Ubuntu developers, on in interviews with Ubuntu developers, so I'm guessing that is just a publicity blitz by Canonical, trying to deflect the massive criticism that Unity has drawn. My own opinion is that if you didn't like Unity before, this release is not likely to change your mind. Well, at least not in a positive way - I can easily imagine that someone who was willing to tolerate Unity until now might be completely put off by the problem described in my rant above.

Summary. Hmmm. Ok, here's the best I can do. I hope that this is some sort of extremely poor April Fool's joke, and if I try it tomorrow (not likely) it will work properly.

jw 1/4/2012

Update - As noted in the comments below, the "Launcher on All Screens" behavior which I rant about in this post is in fact a new "feature" of Ubuntu 12.04. There is a setting in the Display control to turn it on/off, which I overlooked when writing the original post. My apologies to any and all who might have been mislead by this. None of which changes the fact that I don't like it, I would prefer for it to be OFF by default rather than ON, and as stated above, I still don't like Ubuntu/Unity.

jw 3/4/2012

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Jamie, I was going to try out this Beta 2 for a few weeks ahead of the final release, but I decided to wait until the 26th. I have't tried Ubuntu since last spring (very briefly at that), and wasn't happy with Unity then. In an effort to review it fairly, I'm not going to look at it until it's actually out. It looks like Unity has settled to a state that Canonical is mostly happy with, and this is an LTS release. A perfect time to do my first review of a Ubuntu Linux distribution.

    What I have to fight against is the fact that I'm used to Linux Mint, and to a lesser extent Fedora. Although I'm certainly not a new Windows user, this will be the first time in a long time that I use Ubuntu daily, so there's bound to be a lot of stuff I don't even know to look for. Hopefully the website has some kind of "tour" to show off the features that were added over the last 12 months.
  • @Jamie, the two screens was obviously designed to take account of new developments such as Google Chrome Multitask Mode:

    The abilty to use two mice at the same, with Google Chrome Multitask Mode.

    Have to say, its been a little tricky to get my head around, but once my new Logitech (works on glass) mouse turns up next week - I think I'll finally be able to offset the time I waste regarding Windows Update. ;)
  • @Thomas - I will be looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it. Sometimes I think I am not giving them a fair shake... then I try it again, and I don't feel so guilty.

    @Adam - Thanks for the link, I just watched the video... I don't think there is sufficient technology in this world to make up for the time wasted on Windows Update - even on days other than April 1st!

    I'm still holding out hope that if I lose my mind and boot Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 again tomorrow, it won't be exhibiting this bizarre behavior any more...

    Thanks to both for reading and commenting, as always - especially today.

  • multimonitor support has been improved in ubuntu 12.04 and you can choose to show the launcher in one or all the monitors,so your rant is unjustified,and misguided.the whole plethora of positive reviews about 12.04 comes from ubuntu developers ?!!!, this is a blatant lie !!,i have seen and read many articles, shows , youtube channels and independent bloggers , even from zdnet itself, please keep your biased conspiracy theories to yourself or write a decent , fair critique
  • I can't speak for multi-monitor support, however the articles and commenting I have read have made clear that for some people this 2nd Beta is practically ready, while for more than a few others, hardware issues still remain. That was the main reason I decided to wait until the final release.
    If Ubuntu impresses me, I will be pleasantly surprised - but Fedora managed it, so it's not impossible.
    What I meant was to express earlier was that I am not simply a new user from Windows. I know what Linux can and cannot do well.
  • @manolok - If it is possible to configure Unity in a multimonitor setup with the launcher on only one monitor, then it is a well kept secret. Searching the web, I have only been able to find a lot of articles trumpeting the "improved multi-monitor support" and every one specifically says that there is a launcher on every display. Not one says anything about being able to remove it from a display, much less gives instructions on how to do so. I freely admit that I am not a frequent Ubuntu/Unity user, so perhaps this configuration is "obvious" if you already know your way around Unity configuration.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • It's a Joke ?
  • @seb2411 - Thanks for the link, that was what I needed. There is an option to have the launcher on all displays, or only on the "main" display, which presumably is usually the laptop. I don't know why I didn't see this, since it is directly above the option I saw, and used, to change the "sticky edges" setting.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Nobody is perfect. But it is better to check when you write an article about this point :P (or ask someone about that ) .

    Unity with Ubuntu 12.04 is better because we have a really stable version, better performances, optimizations and some visual improvement. it's a good version, but it's more or less the same Unity experience.
  • @"you-know-who-you-are":

    So, to sum up the general feeling of the ENTIRE POPULATION, JA Watson...

    1. is a liar;
    2. is misguided;
    3. is biased;
    4. is delusional, and concocts conspiracy theories;
    5. does not write decent OR fair critiques.

    @ JA Watson:

    It is apparent that you need to get out of this business now. There are obviously many more life-forms out there who know far more than you by virtue of their having seen and read many articles, shows, youtube (sic) channels and independent bloggers , even from zdnet (sic) itself; and whose LOGIC (particularly, the logic), spelling, and grammar indicate their high levels of intelligence.

    Give up now; save yourself any additional embarrassment and loss of credibility.

    Warmest regards...
  • @zdnetukuser - I surrender to the bacteria...
  • Having been with Ubuntu since the days of the Fawn when, even then it knocked thr dpots off anything in Gatesware, and I could never afford a Mac, i have been impressed. Certain things have ben difficult and I though the early HUD was going in the wrong direction, but I simply didn't want to have to go back to Gates, for not only was it very unrealiable and had huge bugs in it, it was very epensive. In 12.4 Sufflebottom has surpassed hisself, and software one day, unsung and forgotten will slide down the throat like so much ice-cream on a hot afternoon.
  • @ JA Watson--

    Ummm..., not quite what I had in mind. At least bacteria are smart enough to adapt...
  • completely biased review...how come you didnt mentioned the HUD feature. You dont like Unity, use linuxMint..that is why they are getting so famous man.
    I use Ubuntu because of Unity only bro. Its innovative,useful and cool.
    Yes, i am also biased because I am not reviewing.
  • Sigh... Multi-monitor configuration never worked quite right in Ubuntu. I have tested every release since late 2008. It's getting better, but it's not there yet. In Windows it works right out of the box. So I ended up installing CentOS inside VMWare Player and it gets the job done.
  • Alright..... I'm not sure how somebody having a tantrum about a small flaw in a pre-release version of an operating system counts as news, but whatever...

    This whole article pretty much is about one small and minor glitch where Unity apparently shows up on two monitors after the user specified it to only show up on one. The two screenshots you've provided show no proof whatsoever. How do we know you're not lying? You don't have the display properties window open to show us the settings you have for the two monitors. I'm sorry, but after having had a bad relationship with a girlfriend, and having been robbed 600+ dollars from one of my "close" friends, my rule of thumb now for ANYTHING is "I'll believe it when I see it."
  • My favorite kind of comments are those from people who have obviously read none of the original post and very little of the comments... but be that as it may, I still really do appreciate everyone who takes the time to visit and comment. Let's just not let it get completely out of proportion, shall we? I have already said, many times, that I don't like Unity and by now it is absolutely clear that I never will. I have also said that my opinion in this case doesn't amount to a hill of beans, because I am not the market that Ubuntu is aiming at with Unity. I sincerely hope that they are very successful with it, because anything that increases use of Linux and decreases use of Microsoft products is wonderful in my opinion.

    @Jaya Shankar Singh - This was not a review. In fact, I specifically stated in the first paragraph that it was not a review, in part because I don't want to review pre-release software and in part because I don't want to review something that I personally dislike and don't use enough to be able to do it justice, even in a negative review. Oh, and use Linux Mint... what a great idea, I'm so pleased that you stopped by to suggest that one, I would never have come up with that idea myself! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    @Vitaly Kravchenko - Unfortunately I have to mostly agree with you, in most ways and compared to most versions of LInux, Windows today does a better job of multi-monitor support. However, Linux is catching up, and if you have ever tried to use multiple monitors on Windows Stupor Edition...

    @Tommy O'Neil - This wasn't a tantrum, it was as I said at the beginning "a minor rant". Stick around for a while and I'll write about Windows Update, then you'll get to see a tantrum. How do you know I'm not lying? Well, you don't, but if you had read the original post you would have seen that I didn't say the displays were supposed to be configured to have the launcher on only one monitor. If you had read the comments, you would have seen the one where someone gave a link to a description of how to change that, and you would have seen my followup comment that said thanks, I had tried it, and it worked just fine, it was my own mistake in overlooking that setting in the Display Control screen. But thanks for reading and commenting, anyway, and my sympathy for your hard times.

  • I hate computers and I feel like my mind is completely fried. like every time I try I only take a couple of steps backwards. When I just build up enough faith, and I'm talking true faith the stuff that's capable of holding together my universe. One small thing doesn't work. That's why I bought a chromebook, nothing goes wrong with it, but still the need to ubuntu is a love that keeps me from living so much so that I can't move. it's either that or try to berry the feelings deep inside my soul. I spent around 200 on my old computer to get this and even as I type I'm scared that I might move the wrong finger, or say thing wrong thing. Dear ubuntu please fix the wifi icon so that it doesn't change when connecting to the internet.
  • I'm not massively keen on Unity, either. If I can adjust it so that it never 'pops-out', then I may warm to it more.

    What about fallback mode? I'm curious to see if that is any good. I have configured 10.04 on my 8 year old Thinkpad T40 so that gnome2 works like a dream. Specifically I use alt-1/2/3/4 to flick between the various workspaces. Is this possible in 12.04 fallback?
    duncan j murray
  • The issue on the Samsung NF310 sounds like it is related to a known bug that causes the system to hang during installation while attempting to use a webcam to generate a profile picture (Ubiquity bug 909179). This is marked as "high importance" and should be resolved by the release date. Also, there is a workaround offered in the bug report for adventurous beta testers.