Quick Look: Karmic Koala

First, bear in mind that this is a first look, and I have not spent lots of time with this new version. I have stopped downloading most Linux betas because they don’t last long, and I can sit back and wait for the end product, where once I was not patient and thought it was necessary to see the work in progress.

The install went very quickly, until such time as the installer let me know it was downloading all the various language files. I was somewhat peeved, as it was taking longer than every other part of the install, and also, I was given no choice to not install the files. I certainly need nothing other than English and perhaps French, as those are the two languages I read and (sort of) speak.

Still, the setup on my (de)Celeron 1.5GHz laptop was fairly quick, completing in less than an hour. I really saw no major difference in setup between Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10. Perhaps for the owners of non-antique hardware there is a major speed difference. (I’d hate to think that most of the reported differences are due to solid state drives being used.)

The menu systems seem to be truncated, with fewer choices, and further looking as though to do any real changing you’ll have to open a terminal window. There are, however, hierarchical menus in Karmic Koala, a definite plus versus Windows 7.

No one is going to comment much about the color scheme, as it is still the same Bandini brown that is one of the first things I get rid of. It is (to me) more annoying than the Kermit green of Open SuSE. I really do wonder why the designers of the default interfaces choose such horrid colors.

There is a glitch in the video routines of the latest non-beta Open SuSE, which does not play nicely with the ATi RS480 chipset on the laptop, and I was holding fingers crossed hoping that Karmic Koala would not emulate the latest from Open SuSE – it did not. The screen came up in the right perspective at the native resolution of the laptop.

A little glitch that was keeping a D-Link USB hub (with an Ethernet port) from being initialized on a warm boot has been fixed, and now it does not matter how the machine is started, the many things I connect to the notebook’s USB ports come up correctly identified.

By the way, the set-up routines are very nice. They look really professional and the only set-up routine I find superior is the one in Open SuSE. I like things that are business-like and the SuSE installer looks as though it was made for IBM. The Ubuntu installer is getting that way – another improvement.

I am thinking that the look will not win any friends from the start, but that with a little work, it can become quite nice. Very usable, and certainly easy enough for anyone to quickly pick up. Perhaps I don’t use this enough, because I can’t say it is greatly changed from Jaunty Jackalope – not that that is a bad thing.

I am thinking that the Gnome desktop is partly clouding my experience. I am not a huge fan, and I think that I will now download the KDE version of the desktop, or perhaps Xubuntu, as when I tried Zenwalk Linux, I really liked XFCE.

If you are looking to make a switch from Windows XP, I can say that I believe that Kubuntu is the best bet, because it looks more like XP than anything that has the Gnome desktop.  Dual booting for the transition period is very easy, and the one time that the bootloader was futzed, it was easy enough to use GPartEd to fix things. (As someone who does this a lot, I’d say that almost everyone should have a copy of GPartEd on a CD close when doing any operating system changes. I know how much effort it saves me, and I also remember what a pain it was before its wide availability.)

The download is starting now, I’ll probably erase the Ubuntu partition and put Xubuntu in its place. I am expecting a gain in speed, plus the look is more my speed. I’ll be reporting on the speed differences, the menu changes, and if anything doesn’t work as it should.

If anyone has anything to add to this, such as anything in system changes I’ve missed (I’m sure there are many), please feel free to comment. Any tips are appreciated, for I am hardly the expert with Ubuntu.

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the more I play with it, the more I see it…

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Opera, the fastest and most secure web browser

the first install on the Karmic Koala partition! Can’t live without it!