Karmic Koala Beta

ubuntuIt’s that time of the year again. The 10th month means lots of things: start of spring,  silly birthdays and a new and shiny Ubuntu release. And it wouldn’t be the same without me recklessly updating to the beta a couple of weeks before release.

What’s fixed? What’s broken? And what about the rest? Read it after the cut.

First of all, for all users with Intel chips who haven’t found a way to enable UXA acceleration (covered in length on this blog), this release provides good (but not up-to-par with 8.10) intel performance. Full screen flash still is a little jumpy and don’t get the accelerated bells and whistles out, but it’s a huge improvement, which you’ll surely notice if you’ve been using stock Jaunty for the last 6 months. To me, shipping Jaunty with broken EXA and unstable UXA was a big mistake from the Canonical dev team.

My wireless and wired connection for my netbook (Asus EeePC 1005HA) work out of the box now, too.

There’s new Gnome, new Firefox, new OpenOffice, new everything. But not everybody has returned: Pidgin has (unexplainably) been replaced by Empathy as the default IM client. New to the family is the Ubuntu One file-syncing service, which I haven’t been able to activate yet … still in beta, I suppose.

A lot of work went into the new booting process too: due to the 2.6.30 kernel’s new mode setting feature, the kernel can configure the display to a higher resolution at boot, and the new graphical boot makes use of that. After a nifty boot screen (which I disable because I like the scrolling kernel text – oops!) you’re dumped into new and shiny GDM, which was practicly rewritten. It all looks nice and shiny, but not a lot of configuration options.

I noticed a subtle, yet welcome change: the ubuntu-desktop metapackage seriously cut down on dependencies. This is no shocking fact, I know. But it’s good news for people who want to strip down their Ubuntu desktop environment to the minimum. In the past, when you tried to remove a standard app like Ekiga (softphone), Transmission (Bittorrent client), or any other app you’d like to get rid of or replace with an alternative, you broke the ubuntu-desktop package dependency. No big deal, but you had to re-install all the applications again when upgrading.  Not anymore! :)