Ubuntu 13.04…… Why so social???
One of my personal favourite distributions of Linux, Ubuntu had launched day before yesterday, and being the Linux geek that I am, I wanted to try it out first hand. While I did not enjoy the Unity interface when it launched a few years back, being too alien to my Window-Task-bar-Start-Menu centric thought process, I had certainly warmed up to it, and surprisingly, it is quite apt (forgive the pun) on small screens with low resolutions such as my Asus EEE PC. Unfortunately for me, the experience was not what I had expected…. at all!
Running this Operating System on a netbook, I had no other option but to boot the downloaded ISO file from a USB drive. I used the old and trusted UnetBootin application, and hit a snag from the very beginning….. before Ubuntu had even booted! The UnetBootin process went well, no hitches there. It did its job and showed my the now-familiar Black and Blue Boot Menu….. I selected Default, and lo behold, it could not find any kernel! I mean seriously??? No kernel??? The third Option of “Try Ubuntu without Installing” worked well, and I was finally logged in to the graphical Unity Desktop. The Ubiquity Installer felt the same as 12.04 and 12.10 editions, with updated slides.
Coming from Ubuntu 12.10, I decided to install it afresh, leaving no remnants of my previous installation. The system has certain cosmetic changes, compared to the previous version, but it very aesthetically pleasing….. The Unity Icon has subtle accents, enhancing the overall look. The icons are mostly the same, though Nautilus, the file manager gets a fresh icon. I disliked the default icons and pimped up my system with the beautiful Faenza icons giving some much required Jazz! Unfortunately, the Unity Lens has some buggy code and has ugly flickers in the new Background Blur Mode, especially in my Intel GMA 3150 system. Nothing major, but definitely distracting. As in 12.10, the Unity Interface is deeply integrated to Amazon search and shows titles selling everything from books to CDs when used for searching apps, which is a serious eyesore. The shutdown dialogue is nice, maybe a bit too flashy, but definitely innovative.
The file browser Nautilus had changed too. It did not carry the usual upper menu bar, but had a single button to access various features, placed on the right hand side of the location bar. It reminds me severely of Google Chrome Browser and the new Epiphany browser for Gnome 3! Why everyone is aping the “latest hot product” is in fact beyond me! It looks like the only ones going ahead with genuine innovation is Mozilla, especially with Firefox and Thunderbird.
The default Ubuntu installation does not come with the requisite multimedia plugins installed, so no MP3s, H.264 and other fancy multimedia stuff was enabled out of the box. However, similar to previous editions, but both Totem and Rhytmbox downloads the requisite packages when faced with the an unknown codec. Similarly, one has to download the Flash plugins to view YouTube videos too.
I had read about Ubuntu going social and stuff, but I did NOT realize things would be bad, almost to the point of insanity. I decided to set up Empathy the chat client for some Facebook chat. It simply asked me to configure my account and so I did. After the username and password page, this cropped up….. Now WHAT THE FUCK IS SUPPOSED TO MEAN BY THIS??? “Ubuntu would like to post to your friends on your behalf.” This does not look cool. In fact it reeks of Marketing and User Control at best and phishing and social engineering at worst. Moreover, not agreeing to the above state does not configure Empathy for Facebook Chat. Who is Canonical to hijack my Facebook or social media account and use me as a billboard?!? Unfortunately, this We-Know-Best-and-you-all-can-Fuck-Off attitude makes not just me, but most people mad. And this comes not from the small players but the leaders in business! Case in point – Microsoft and that hideous Windows 8 interface; the new Gmail compose which boils the formal aspect of sending emails down to inane web chat and finally this! I am not a 15 year old who needs to regurgitate his nondescript life through Failbook and Tw@tter posts! My message to the big players out there (Google, Microsoft, Canonical)…. These kids ARE NOT your core buyers. They might be a sizable one, but if you piss off the core users, you are basically ignoring your best customers.
Enough of my rant! Overall, the Operating system is responsive, and uses only 370 megs of memory, even in 64 bit. There are no hiccups as such and everything gels with each other nicely. The boot time has also reduced considerably, even on my SATA HDD Based setup, so no complaints there. Canonical decided to reduce the support from 18 moths to 9 months, forcing anyone not using the LTS version to upgrade to the next version. In the end, this is rock-solid, stylish and stable implementation of a Linux Desktop.