Today, I upgraded from Ubuntu 11.10 with the irritating Unity desktop to 12.04 with the significantly less irritating Unity desktop. If they keep going, it could become actually pleasant to use.
Sadly, at work I have a machine with 11.04 and cannot upgrade at all. Kinda locked in place until Ubuntu fixes things so you can skip non-LTS versions. Any day now.
I did find one problem while upgrading that I thought could be a showstopper for people not used to systems like Ubuntu. On clicking the magic upgrade button, it did some preliminary setup stuff, then downloaded all the files it needed. At one point it wants the MySQL root password. No problem. After that it was doing preparation of some sort (don’t remember the exact name). 20 minutes later, still sitting there like it is in lockup land.
I notice a button like + Terminal (not that color). This usually lets you watch what is changing in updates. Whatever, maybe I’ll find cause to reboot or abort. Click.
A terminal pane opens inside the updater. Its asking a question about restarting some services and is waiting for me to click [OK] or not. Aaaarrgghh! Oh well, [Enter], things proceed. It would have been nice to show that sort of thing. Some small notice.
But that was the only problem. As I watched the endless scroll of activity, I realized just how hard the people who make the upgrade process alone have to work. Add to that all the developers doing kernal work and application work, and everything else. Thanks guys. You did an awesome job.
12.04 starts faster, and Unity is much smoother to use. In 11.10 I could not find a way to shut down the computer from inside the desktop (you had to log out first). In 12.04 – got that fixed up. I’ve only just started so can’t say what else has changed. In 11.10 I was thinking blow it all away and get Xubuntu or Mint with the XFCE dekstop which is quite pleasant as a developer’s desktop. But having seem real improvements in unity, I’ll stick with it and see where it goes.
The downside of Unity is that is seems to be optimized for people doing just one thing at a time. As a software developer, I might have a half dozen tools up (multiple terminals, ide, browser, maybe even the gimp) and its a bit of a pain to always have to mouse way to the top of the screen to do things like click Tools->Web developer or File->Open. An improvement is being able to right click on a terminal window and at least get the File menu.
So I am hopeful Unity will work out. If it gets too irritating I can just set up 12.04 Xubuntu or Mint 13 in a vm and use that without having to start over. Its all good.