Skip to main content

At Work with Linux: Ubuntu 12.04 First Contact, Day 2

Ubuntu 11.10 with default Ambiance theme.
Ubuntu 11.10 with Radiance theme. Note easily readable dark text on light background.

I've got four new screen captures, two from Ubuntu 11.10 (top) and two from 12.04 LTS. I wanted to illustrate some of the differences, some of the annoying differences, between the two. As I stated earlier, and as I've said in the past with Ubuntu versions 7 and 8 (search the blog if you want) upgrading from one Ubuntu release to the next is fraught with some peril. An installation that works fine will wind up with broken, arbitrarily changed, and/or missing features in the next. It's been so in the past, and it appears to be so between 11.10 and 12.04.

What makes this unacceptable this time is 12.04 is a Long Term Support release. Canonical repeatedly stated how important it was to produce a polished release this time. Based on my initial experiences 12.04 isn't polished. I'm better off sticking to 11.10 until such time as 12.04 really is polished and working as well as 11.10. What's the problem with that decision? The three year countdown clock has already started with 12.04. How long will it be before patches and updates make 12.04 as good as 11.10?

Ubuntu 12.04 with default Ambiance theme. Note change to Appearance applet.
Ubuntu 12.04 with Radiance theme. Note text display issues with common menu bar in upper left.

My complaints might seem minor, but they effect usability. I'll briefly outline what's visible with these screen captures.
  1. Resizing by dragging a window border or corner is problematic with 12.04 but works normally in 11.10. As I pointed out in my last post you have to right-click on the window's title bar and select 'Resize' from the drop-down menu. That places the cursor in the left corner allowing you to resize the window until you click the left mouse button to release it.
  2. The Appearance applet was arbitrarily changed between 11.10 and 12.04. I and several others in the office prefer the older layout and see absolutely no reason why the major window elements (screen and wallpaper selection widget) were transposed.
  3. Zoom in on the upper left of the last screen capture where the theme was changed to Radiance and note the text in the common menu bar is poorly rendered, making it ugly and difficult to read. This was not the case in 11.10 (see second screen capture above). As I wrote earlier this should have been caught and could have been caught with a very simple test case. This is a glaring visual flaw that should have not gone out the door on an LTS release.
We'll keep both, and I'll keep looking for updates to fix points 1 and 3. There's no point in fixing 2 because it's a judgement call, but I maintain it should have never been changed in the first place. Changing it wasted time and energy that should have gone into better regression testing and fixing of obvious bugs, like point 3's.

Finally, this is four years after running into these kinds of issues with Ubuntu 7 and 8. Canonical should not be having this happen in 2012.


  1. Nice article again!

    I was having the same artifact issues, but I turned on 3D acceleration for the VM. After restarting, everything was much better.

    The windows are much easier to drag and resize, the funky text aliasing is gone in the menubar, and the expose and alt tab displays are crystal clear.

    1. Thanks. I enabled 3D acceleration and it did indeed correct the window resizing issue as well as fix the text problem with the Radiance theme.


Post a Comment

All comments are checked. Comment SPAM will be blocked and deleted.

Popular posts from this blog

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

vm networking problem fixed

Over the weekend I upgraded to Windows 8.1, then discovered that networking for the virtual machines wouldn't work. Then I tried something incredibly simple and fixed the problem.

Checking the system I noticed that three VMware Windows services weren't running; VMnetDHCP, VMUSBArbService, and VMwareNatService. VMware Player allows you to install, remove, or fix an existing installation. I chose to try fixing the installation, and that fixed the problem. The services were re-installed/restarted, and the virtual machines had networking again.

Once network connectivity was established there was exactly one updated file for Ubuntu 13.10, a data file. This underscores how solid and finished the release was this time. Every other version of every other Linux installation I've ever dealt with has always been succeeded by boatloads of updates after the initial installation. But not this time.

Everything is working properly on my notebook. All's right with the world.

sony's pivotal mirrorless move

I'm a died-in-the-wool technologist, even when it comes to photography. I have always been fascinated with the technology that goes into manufacturing any camera, from the lenses (optics) through the mechanical construction, the electronics involved, and especially the chemistry of the film and the sophistication of the digital sensor. It's amazing that the camera can do all it's asked of it, regardless of manufacturer.

Of all the types of cameras that I've really taken an interest in, contemporary mirrorless (again, regardless of manufacturer) are the most interesting because of the challenging problems the scientists and engineers have had to solve in order to build a compact but highly functional camera. In particular I've followed the sensor advances over the years and watched image quality climb (especially with μ4:3rds) to exceed film and rival one another such that there's very little difference any more as you move from the smaller sensors such as 4:3r…