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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.


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