Canonical and Ubuntu Needs to Settle Down


I am not averse to changes. I like experimenting with new applications and features every now and then. I have no problem with that. But that is not the case with majority of Computer users out there. For them, Computer is just a tool to get things done in a much faster and efficient manner. The sooner Canonical realize this, the better.

Canonical and Ubuntu Needs to Settle Down

Changes Are Good, But Polish Needs to be a Priority too
Just consider the last three Ubuntu releases. Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx(LTS), Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat and Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. Each of these three releases brought in tremendous amount of changes. With Lucid Lynx came the new theme, complete brand Ubuntu makeover and a number of new applications that include PiTiVi Video Editor, Me Menu, Ubuntu One Music Store among others.

Then came the Maverick Meerkat, perhaps the most widely accepted Ubuntu release to date. The changes with Maverick were even bigger. Revamped Ubuntu Software Center, new sound menu, new installer, new applications to name a few. More on it here.

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal dwarfs all its predecessors in terms of the amount of changes it brought to the table. Official GNOME and Ubuntu parted ways and both went on to develop their own UI experience. Ubuntu Unity was Canonical's answer and they pulled it off pretty nicely IMO. We even reviewed it as one of our favorite releases ever.

It's Not All That Pretty
Optimism apart, there are things that needs to be sorted out. I have been using Ubuntu 11.04 for about a month now and some issues have started to creep in. First and foremost, Unity desktop is not anywhere near stable. There were more than 3 instances where Unity will simply crash(without even a desktop freeze) and go into login screen mode(like while you restart x). Stability is something Linux is very famous for and the issue needs urgent attention.

Though many attributes of Unity is in tune with smaller devices, it is not really a "light" OS in terms of performance. Boot time remains pretty much the same(if it has not deteriorated a bit) and memory usage is quite big too. Not the ideal characteristics for an OS aimed at smaller screen devices if you ask me.

The other important problem is the lack of overall UI fit and finish. Rough edges are galore. There were instances when Unity launcher just wont auto hide even when a window is maximized. When you  search for something in Unity Lense, even though the first item is automatically selected, there is no visual cue for it. Unity Lense itself sometimes load very slowly. Global menu won't really work as smooth as you expect it to be.

Canonical and Ubuntu Needs to Settle Down
Which brings me to my point, Canonical and Ubuntu needs to settle down a bit and sort things out carefully. Just consider the new features for upcoming Ubuntu 11.10 Oneric Ocelot. Even more drastic changes are on its way, like say replacement of GDM with LightDM for example. There were even discussions on replacing Firefox with Chromium during UDS 2011.

Ubuntu require a feature freeze real soon and all the resources should be concentrated on polishing the Ubuntu experience in my opinion. Rough edges needs to be cleared and Ubuntu urgently needs a performance boost in terms of boot speed and the overall UI slickness. As I have made it clear before, I adore Unity and the changes it brought along. And I want Ubuntu to build on that. Reactions from long time Ubuntu users towards new Unity have been less than ideal and the next release is going to be critical.

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