Monday, October 29, 2012
Thoughts and observations on 12.10
I have been using 12.10 daily builds on and off on my testing system for well over a month. For the last week I have been using the final release and applying daily updates. Things are getting better every day but it's still not at a point yet to replace a 12.04 install.
The thing that has really impressed me is how hard the PowerPC developers are working to get everything fixed. There have been updates every single day ranging from 2 to over 10 per day. This includes kernel, application and system utility code updates. I am contemplating becoming a Lubuntu developer myself which will also inspire me to get started on my Puppy Linux for PowerPC project. I really love both but Lubuntu is already available for PowerPC so it's a good place to start so I can transition from OpenBSD to Linux development while still helping the progression of an OS I fully stand behind.
The advantages to 12.10 do outweigh the negatives but the issue for now is that the negative are big enough (for me at least) that I am not ready to embrace it yet as my main Linux install until some things are fixed. I will now summarize the good and bad from my perspective which I hope can help people figure if they are ready to replace 12.04 or not.
This has been renamed 'Software Updater' and it actually works on the PowerPC builds now. It has crashed once on me but other than that one occasion it works perfectly. This is a much simpler and user friendly way to update for those that are confused by Synaptic.
Aesthetics and uniformity:
Everything in the GUI has been updated in the default Lubuntu theme. The LX menu button is now a sleeker squared shape. All the system and application icons have been cleaned up to be more sleek and less colourful or tacky, depending on how you look at it. I personally prefer the Industrial theme with the Lubuntu window borders.
A few of the default apps are at newer versions that are not availible by default yet on 12.04 even after updates. Transmission for example is now at version 2.61 vs. 2.51 on 12.04. Apps like Audacious, GDebi, System Profiler and several other system utilities as well have been updated. One important update they have put through on both 12.04 and 12.10 is the Firefox updates which is now at 16.02. There was an issue with the profiler app at first but this has now been fixed.
Not only is the desktop installer a little better now but Canonical has finally made an OS upgrade option that works perfectly. I was able to run the updater without issue by upgrading 12.04 to 12.10 with the DVD rather than a clean install. This works just as well as a clean install in my experiences and it also retains all your accounts, apps and settings from your 12.04 install.
I have tried several videos in both Mplayer and VLC and they failed to play far more than they did. VLC especially for me has been very troublesome. Because I'm a video super nerd this is a big issue for me. There are still radeon driver issues so I'm sure it has to do with that because the system seems incapable of playing multiple frames a second. The CPU is never saturated when this happens so thats not the issue. I would like to hear any playback experiences others have in 12.10.
I would estimate about a 10-20% drop in overall performance compared to 12.04 on the same machine. This is on a 400 MHz Sawtooth though so that drop in performance would shrink on a faster system. I'm sure that with the heavy frequency of updates the performance will be improved over time. Two months from now I'm sure everything will be close to 12.04 performance.
These happen too often for my liking. It's not that they are always there but its often enough to be intrusive at times. This is no shocker in this early stage but it may not be what you want to tolerate. Give it a couple months
If you like to be part of testing and discovering bugs then this is for you because the more who help with this the faster everything will be fixed. If you want a well behaved stable system with optimal usability then stick with 12.04 for now.
The main current install issue with 12.10 is video driver based for the most part. For information on how to resolve this please refer to this Lubuntu documentation page. For other 12.10 issues please refer to this info. That last link doesn't deal with Rage 128 GPU so if that is what you have please refer to this fix from the KnownIssues page on the Ubuntu PowerPC wiki. I would include this info here but it takes away from the efforts of those who made it. It would also make the post very clunky as there is a lot of text for those two issues.