Ubuntu 12.04 LTS - Scorecard

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS - Scorecard

Summary: Well, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an Ubuntu 12.04 review, with pictures, videos, step-by-step instructions and everything else imaginable.


Well, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an Ubuntu 12.04 review, with pictures, videos, step-by-step instructions and everything else imaginable. So rather than write yet another, I am going to take a different approach - a quick result run-down and a few comments about installing it on the various computers around here. As I have a fairly wide variety of hardware, in both configuration and age, this should cover a lot of different situations, and perhaps offer hope and encouragement to those considering upgrading (or especially those considering installing for the first time), and consolation to those who might have tried and run into trouble.

I like to start with the good news, so I will lump a bunch of these together:

Fujitsu Lifebook S6510, HP Pavilion dm1-3105ez, Samsung N150 Plus, Asus Aspire One 522: All installed from scratch flawlessly, and everything works. Wireless networking using various cards from Intel, Broadcom and Atheros, graphic displays in resolutions from 1024x600 up to 1920x1280 (on an external monitor), using display controllers from Intel, ATI/AMD and nVidia, Bluetooth, and of course all the routine things like USB ports, SD/MMC memory card slot, HDMI and VGA monitor connections, and whatever other hardware those systems had. All very routine.

Then the not-so-good-but-not-terrible news:

Installing from Live USB memory stick is slow. I mean really, really slow. It takes ages to boot even as far as the "Install Ubuntu" / "Try Ubuntu" prompt, and then ages again after you choose one of those options before it is ready to work. The installation procedure is nearly identical to previous releases, but takes many times longer as well. I don't know what they have done to slow it down, but it is amazing, whatever it was.

Also, on the HP Pavilion dm1-3105ez the infernal Synaptic ClickPad doesn't work properly. To their credit, Ubuntu gets it closer than many other Linux distributions, because you can at least simulate a right-click with a two-finger tap, but that's about it. Click-and-drag is a nightmare, if you can get it to work at all, and of course two-finger scroll doesn't work at all.

The really bad news:

It absolutely refused to install on my Samsung NF310 netbook. This may very well be some sort of problem with the computer, but it is worth noting that I have recently installed Linux Mint Debian Edition 201204 on that system, and it was no problem at all. The problem seems to be something to do with reading the partition table, because it never comes up with the question about importing documents and settings from other operating systems, and while the installation processing actually does start, and seems to run through copying files, installing the system, configuring hardware and such, it always crashes when it gets to importing documents. It's not just the import that crashes, either, it must be crashing ubiquity (the Ubuntu installer) completely, because it is left without GRUB installed, so it won't boot.

I tried quite a few things in hopes of getting around this problem, to no avail. I even went so far as to delete all of the other Linux partitions, and the Extended Partition they had been installed in, so the system was left with nothing but the original Windows partitions, and it still crashed when I tried to install Ubuntu 12.04. So I finally gave up on that, and decided that system could be a good test unit for the upgrade procedure. I reloaded Ubuntu 11.10 on it (which loaded perfectly, by the way, so why won't 12.04 load?), and then went to the Update Software utility and selected the option to upgrade to 12.04. It gave me a pretty good explanation of what it was going to do and how long it would take, and that some packages from 11.10 would no longer be supported, some would be removed, some new packages would be installed, and a lot would be upgraded. It then downloaded over 1,300 packages, and set about performing the upgrade. It has been at that for about an hour now, and appears to be about halfway through. Not bad. If it completes successfully, I'll be impressed, and pleased.

Even more bad news:

On a brand new Samsung NP300E5A notebook (so new that I haven't even written about it here yet - stay tuned), with Windows 7, openSuSE and Linux Mint Debian already installed, when I installed Ubuntu 12.04 and told it to put GRUB in the root partition (not the MBR), it screwed up somehow and left the system unbootable. Not good. I was able to fix it without much trouble, and once I got over that it seems to work just fine, but that is a pretty big stumble.


Once it is installed and running, it seems to be quite good. Be prepared to be patient while it is installing, because rather than the 10-15 minutes it takes to install most Linux distributions, it is more likely to take 30-45 minutes. But installation is a one-time operation (or should be in most cases), and once that is done the boot and operation speed seems quite normal. It is well known around here that I don't like Unity, and I don't see anything in this release that changes my feelings on that in any way. But that's just me, and there seem to be plenty of people who like Unity. Fine, choice is one of the major strengths of Linux. I wish them lots of success with this release - anything that hurts Microsoft is wonderful as far as I am concerned, and more power to them.

jw 29/4/2012

Update - shortly after I posted the above, the upgrade finished successfully on my NF310. It looks like everything is just fine, and it even kept the configuration for things like wireless networking across the upgrade. Less than 1.5 hours total time. I'm honestly quite impressed.


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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  • I've been using it for several days now, and you know what? It seems fine. I actually find Unity to be not nearly as bad as I had feared. That is a combination of "Ubuntu really improved it" with "I am used to several different desktop UIs". I have quibbles, but they are very minor.

    (one of the bigger annoyances is that Firefox now won't let you right-click on bookmarks to bring up a menu of choices (like deleting the current bookmark). I only had that issue before with Opera, and never before for Firefox on any version of Linux. What's going on?)
  • Ubuntu rocks, not matter what
  • I installed Ubuntu 12.04 from when it was an alpha version, and everything works flawless, except for a few bugs that has been fixed until now.
    Your long time installing experience is very surprising for me, because I've installed Ubuntu Precise on my laptop and desktop pc only from usb stick and it didn't take much time.
    In short term, I am in love with Ubuntu's new look and speed, so microsoft windows 7 seems for me like an ancient dinosaur after Ubuntu Unity experience.
  • I also used the USB stick and didn't see any issue with it taking "ages to boot", it actually seem very quick and easy.
  • I also am impressed.
    Two days ago, I gave my wife one of my HP MiniNotes (4GB SSD, 512 MB Ram, 1.0GHz ViaC7-m), and wanted to give her an OS to which she would take kindly (she does not suffer fools gladly, particularly the ones who offer "...the latest, the greatest, the best cartoon-interface, the one which 'even your mum can use'").
    I loaded Ubuntu 9.04. She loves it, as do I ( the introduction of 9.10 is what drove me to Linux MINT, after reading a blog of yours).
    Total load time? 15 minutes, worst case.
    Ain't progress wonderful?

    Warmest regards...
  • I actually had a borked installation of Arch on the machine (crappy old Dell Inspiron 1525) and, lacking any spare discs, live-booted Ubuntu 11.10 in order to download Unetbootin, make a bootable USB drive (with 12.04), and boot from that to install.

    The entire experience was smooth and fast. Not a hitch. Install was a breeze, and probably my favorite graphical installer ever. It was a Kingston Datatraveler, but I don't know much beyond that.

    I will note that on one of my roomie's Toshiba Satellite laptops (some other old-old model I don't know), Ubuntu would hang at the logo splash screen when either attempting live boot or install. Hope we can resolve that soon, or maybe use something that's modern enough to be sane. Once installed, it's sexy, if not graphically as snappy as it could be on that intel integrated graphics hardware. I'll build something new soon.
  • I too installed Ubuntu 12.04 over the week end and was pleasantly surprised with the improvements from when I last tried Unity. However, I'm still more comfortable with the Gnome 2 hierarchical environment, so I also installed Gnome as well. I do seem to imagine that I have a bright clearer image. Everything so far works.

    Yes, it did take me a long time to install but this was mostly down to the absolutely appalling Internet performance I'm experiencing at the moment since I chose to update during installation. As an aside and particularly since I live in London, I wondering what effect the Olympics is having now and will have during the games.

    I have two ISPs, both rated at 10Meg the freebie TalkTalk which now is just very very slow and Virgin cable which is faster but constantly stalls during downloads etc. I chose the slower connection as it is, at least, stable.

    The one criticism I do have with Unity is that applications (ugh!) cannot be selected by type, e.g. Office, as in Gnome 3 and of course the drop down menus in Gnome 2. Searching through all the applications if you're not sure what you are looking for is most unsatisfactory.

    Fortunately, the icon layout on the launcher bar has been improved and icons can be resized.
    The Former Moley
  • Hi Moley,

    Slightly OT, but nonetheless... I did have a look into the likely effect on broadband during the Olympics, but no one seems to be in charge of communicating disruptions in a centralised way to businesses or consumers. Hence, your comment of what effect it is having already and what it will have is an important one!

    Ben Woods
  • @All those who posted above, and those whom I am sure will follow - I am very pleased to see so many people who are pleased with, and often passionate about Ubuntu, Unity and HUD. It is not for me, as I have said, but if it is for you, then that's great, use it and enjoy it and encourage your family and friends to do the same.

    Thanks to one and all for reading and commenting.

  • Hi Ben.

    I did read your earlier news item and was somewhat reminded of this:-

    "Whose Job Is It?

    This is a story about four people named Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No-one. There was an important job to be done and Everyone was expected to do it. Everyone was sure Someone would do it. Anyone could have done it, but No-one did it. Someone got angry about it because it was Everyone’s job. Everyone thought Anyone could do it, but No-one realised that Everyone wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everyone blamed Someone when No-one did what Anyone could have done.”

    On the question of OTT, I was not exaggerating. I'm frequently (regularly) surfing and downloading at analogue speeds and have commented about this several times and, yes, Virgin cable was constantly stalling when downloading the 12.04LTS CD ISO. I have always put this poor experience down to the ISPs and the wider Internet being totally overwhelmed, hence my concern about what will happen with the considerable increase in demand in connection with Olympics.

    The Former Moley
  • Jamie - can I ask for a request? You are right that there are a million (mostly positive?!) reviews of Ubuntu 12.04 - BUT no-one has reviewed 12.04 with a view to people who don't want Unity OR Gnome 3. As in can you do a review of 12.04 in fall-back mood, which is meant to be pretty good now, and if you have time, maybe look at MATE.

    I would do it, but my wife has banned me from upgrading the X-series from 11.10 until I've written up a paper.
    duncan j murray
  • Try clicking on 'filter results' on the right of the dash. That seems to bring up the categories (at least it does on my 11.10 installation).

    duncan j murray
  • @duncanjmurray.

    Seems I had a big Oopsie moment. I didn't fully understand how it worked and wrote in haste. You have to deselect categories as well as select them. Still I think I don't really like the feature. If we have to have change from Gnome 2 then Gnome3 does it better and is, in my opinion, nearer to the computer paradigm.

    Despite the improvements, I think I'm still with JW on this one, it's not for me just now.
    The Former Moley
  • @duncanjmurray

    I just installed MATE on Ubuntu 1204LTS. First impressions are very good. Better than the fall back mode.
    The Former Moley
  • @duncanjmurray - I'm happy to do what I can to help, but your question isn't as simple as it sounds. First, what are you thinking of as "fall-back mode"? If you are thinking of Gnome 3 "Classic" mode, which has been included in previous Ubuntu releases, that is now gone, it was dropped from this release. The only fall-back is "Unity 2D", which is just the same as "normal" unity, but with less graphic effects, specifically intended for systems with very limited graphic capability. If you don't like Unity to begin with, you're not at all likely to like Unity 2D.

    If you really want Gnome Classic, that is actually a reduced mode of the Gnome 3 Shell, so you can install Gnome Shell, and then select "Gnome Classic" on the login screen. However, I find Gnome Classic to be a rather poor substitute for Gnome 2. Although it has some resemblance to the Gnome 2 desktop with top and bottom panels, the configurability and customization are very limited, it doesn't work the same way as Gnome 2 in a lot of areas, and I invariably ended up shaking my head and deciding that I would rather learn to use Gnome 3 Shell than to subject myself to Gnome Classic.

    MATE, however, is a different story. Although I haven't tried it on Ubuntu (I can't even find it in the Ubuntu Software Center), I know that there are instructions on how to add the necessary repository and install it available on the net. I have used MATE quite a bit on other distributions, and I have found it to be very nice. As far as I am concerned, it is very difficult to distinguish MATE from Gnome 2 - it works the same way and it is configurable in the same way. If you are determined to use Ubuntu and not to use Unity or Gnome 3, then MATE is probably your best choice.

    Hope this helps... Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • I found Ubuntu 12.04 so fast and so good that I installed it on three desktop machines without any problem. Adding MATE desktop from the command line (worked very well), and I now have the toolbar at the bottom, just like in earlier Gnome2 versions.
  • @jamie - thanks for the reply - it was this forum posting that's had me interested...
    http://tinyurl.com/cyn7vbh (ubuntuforums) - which looked promising. MATE also looks promising - I heard that it was initially a bit buggy, which is what put me off... Maybe someone will do a proper gnome-shell which runs on GTK3/gnome3 in the vein of gnome2?

    @moley - to me gnomeshell and unity are in joint second place behind gnome2! I find gnomeshell irritating to use, particularly when using more than one desktop, or trying to quickly get to files and folders. Unity is no better with workspaces, but it does at least try some sort of OS method of getting to files and folders. I've nothing against the Unity paradigm of a dock on the left-hand side, and appreciate the concepts of the 'lenses' (potentially a powerful tool), and particularly the HUD. If they can improve the efficiency of the code and implementation, I see it as a desktop with potential. I don't even mind the menu bar in the title bar, being a previously long-time Amiga user!

    At the moment, though, gnome2 is excellent. If I could add application search (i.e. the windows button, type, then press enter), HUD, snapping windows, then I'd be pretty happy.
    duncan j murray
  • @duncanjmurray - Have you tried Cinnamon? It is the closest thing currently available to what you are describing - Gnome 3 based, functionality generally like Gnome 2, and more. There are plenty of instructions on the Internet for installing Cinnamon on Ubuntu, so I would encourage you to give it a try. If you install it and decide you don't like it, you can always just select one of the other desktops before logging in.

  • @jamie - had a look into cinnamon, but haven't actually given it a try. It didn't look like it would resolve the issues I had with G3shell, but it did look like an improvement.
    duncan j murray
  • @jw

    I installed Cinnamon this evening after reading your suggestion to duncanjmurray. So now I have lots of choices in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Perhaps there's a way forward now with all these choices and a five year support and upgrade cycle. The idea of a five years support cycle which also provides software upgrades is very appealing.
    The Former Moley