I've been installing the Karmic Beta release on everything I have around here, and the news is generally good. Some of this I have mentioned before, and some is new; some is significant, and some is trivial... so here we go!
First, in the category of "mentioned before" and "significant", we have GRUB-PC, also known as Grub 2, which is the standard bootloader with Ubuntu 9.10. The last time I mentioned it, I said that by going to the "Advanced" button in the final installation screen, you could choose to install GRUB to the root partition rather than the MBR, and thus not screw up your existing installation. Alas, things have now changed and even if you do that, it still renders the system disk unbootable, and you have to restore GRUB from a LiveCD, a backup image, or some such. So beware.
Second, in the "not mentioned before" category, I have now installed Karmic Beta on the following systems:
- Fujitsu S6510, Intel Core2 Duo
- ASUS N10J, Intel Atom
- HP db2-1010ez, AMD Athlon Neo
- HP 2133 Mini, VIA C7-M
I'm very pleased to report that it appears to work extremely well on all of them. Other than having to work around the GRUB installation, I have not yet found a single device which doesn't work, including all of the various screens, graphic controllers, wired and wireless network controllers, bluetooth, and so on.
One excellent piece of machine-specific news. CPU Frequency Scaling works on the VIA C7-M CPU (HP 2133 Mini-Note), without having to edit the kernel boot line. This is the first distribution that I have seen manage this.
Another item I have mentioned before - Karmic supports several hardware devices properly out of the box, which either didn't work at all or didn't work properly with previous releases. The most significant of these are the Atheros ath9k wireless adapter (AR9285 in my specific case), and the Logitech Audio Hub USB Speaker system.
It is worth mentioning that even though it has only been a week since the Beta release, there have already been a lot of very significant updates to it. If you choose to install this Beta, make sure that you go through System/Administration/Update Manager and install all of the updates. It will take at least two or three passes to get them all installed, because partial updates will be necessary at first, so make sure you keep going back and clicking "Check" until it reports "Your System is Up-to-Date".
Please remember that this is still a Beta test release, it is not intended to be installed on critical systems, and it could well get broken (and fixed) again before the final release comes out.