(K)Ubuntu – Oneiric Ocelot is out… meh.

Ok, I wasn’t going to blog until I’ve finished my thesis corrections, but I’ve spent the whole day formatting protein/gene names correctly, and I’m showing signs of brain calcification.  So, I’m going to do one post that has nothing to do with science.  I’m saving those for later.

Instead, I thought I’d give up a few thoughts on Ubuntu’s latest release: Oneiric Ocelot (11.10).

First, I have a few caveats.  I’ve been using Onieric for several months.  It’s something I like to do: load up alpha versions and watch them develop.  It keeps you sharp: when you have to trouble shoot things, you learn lots about how the operating system works and you get the pleasure of finding new software improvements all the time.  What’s not to like? At this point, I’ve been running alpha and beta versions on my laptops for about 4 years now, and it has been an enjoyable process – well, at least it was until Natty (11.04).

For the past year, I’ve been increasingly disappointed in Ubuntu because more things get broken than fixed as the development goes along. But, I should explain a few things:  I don’t use the vanilla Ubuntu.

First, I use Kubuntu.  I’ve flipped-flopped between KDE and GNOME a few times, but I always find myself gravitating back to KDE.  The ability to customize things so deeply has always kept me coming back. (For instance, I remapped the Eject button on my macbook to the eject command last night in the KDE settings panel, and I think that’s the cat’s pajamas.  I’ve done the similar things to enable my keyboard backlight as well.  Stuff like that just makes me happy.)

Second, I love compiz.  I find KDE’s effects kinda lackluster, whereas compiz has a few modules that make me more productive.  I love scale and the desktop cube, because I think well in terms of a 3D desk, and it just makes it easy for me to remember where I left my windows.

So, with that in mind, My ideal desktop is Ubuntu + KDE + compiz.  A combination that ran REALLY well in 10.10.  Actually, that was the last time it did run well – which is a big part of my beef.

After several months of watching Oneiric evolve, I’m really disappointed. I was hoping for many more bug fixes before today’s release, but I just got more and more bugs.  Here are some of the ones that annoy me on a frequent basis:

  • Compiz no longer runs smoothly in KDE.  Flickering and artifacts that were all cleaned up in Maverick are all back with a vengeance.
  • Compiz has been broken so that it hangs repeatedly whenever KDE panels are used – particularly stuff like the new activity manager, or even just resizing a panel.
  • Compiz itself now prevents panels from appearing when it’s set as the default window manager, so that you must kill compiz and start the KDE window manager on every boot just to see your panels.
  • KDE itself has been broken so that the window manager crashes on EVERY single exit.  You can’t shut down the computer without having to hit close on two separate “KDE window manager has crashed” windows
  • There’s the dreaded “Kernel is taking too much power” bug that was only recently “fixed”.  Actually, it wasn’t fixed, but with a few custom kernel parameters, becomes manageable.
  • Oneiric decided to go with the brcmsmac driver for my wireless card.  The driver works fine, but it’s in developmental stage, so there’s no power management for the driver, making it take up 3-5W of power.  For a laptop, that’s just inexcusable – it’s about 30-50% of my total battery draw (usually 11-15W after a lot of manual tuning)!
  • Something totally botched up the NVidia dual monitor support. Even a month ago I was able to drive a second monitor from my video card, but it now fails to do so reliably.  I gave up the second monitor because turning the second monitor on and off 10-15 times in a row in the Nvidia settings panel just to get it to work is no longer a reasonable solution I’m willing to engage in.
  • Then there is the move to “alternate architecture” – I’m still not sure how this is supposed to work, but try getting skype to work.  It’s “fun”.  (Fun being defined as a pain in the ass that involves manually installing i386 libraries that are automagically removed every time you upgrade a package, because the 64-bit version just plain fails to work at all.)
  • Oh, and now Skype can’t see my microphone, but I’m not sure that’s an Ubuntu problem, although I doubt anything will be fixed now that Microsoft has bought Skype. (Again, not an Ubuntu problem…)

Anyhow, you get the idea.

It seems that KDE isn’t a priority for Ubuntu developers, and worse, I don’t think that Ubuntu devs are even aware of the breakage they’ve caused in compiz and KDE while re-purposing it for Unity.  Lack of testing might be one problem, but I suspect that they’re not really even interested in keeping compatibility – which was always one of the core virtues of GNU/Linux for me: interchangable parts.  I have no interest in switching to Unity, but I wish they wouldn’t break everything else for me in the rush to get Unity working for themselves.

Alas, while I’m going to keep using Kubuntu for a little while longer, my love for the Ubuntu distros is fading.  I love bleeding edge, but I’m not a fan of this rampant (avoidable) breakage.

So, my advice – stay away from Kubuntu Oneiric Ocelot – it’s not worth the pain.  With any luck, some of these bugs will be fixed for the LTS release Pulverized Penguin Precise Pangolin.  But I won’t be holding my breath.

9 thoughts on “(K)Ubuntu – Oneiric Ocelot is out… meh.

  1. I’ve been working for two days to solve this, and thought it tied to issues with the Intel video drivers. I’m pained to hear that it’s greater than that. I, too had this set up beautifully on Maverick, and I skipped Natty and installed Oneiric only to run into this crap, and Emerald window decorator pulled from the repo!

    I may be losing my love for K/Ubuntu, as well. I’d love follow up here from you if you get anywhere .

    • Hi Sean,

      Which element in particular have you been working on trying to solve? I’m happy to follow up, but it would be useful to know which bug has been affecting you too!

      Anthony

  2. Pingback: Compiz running on Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric) | blog.fejes.ca

  3. Hi,
    You’re brave to install Alpha or Beta releases. I don’t. I’m too busy with my own alpha and beta releases, my 5 and 3 year old children ;)

    I have to to agree. Oneiric is a dog. I love Ubuntu, but she is becoming a bit of a bitch.
    I have a laptop at home that is my testbed PC for new builds of Ubuntu. I devised that strategy after Unity broke multi-monitor support on my HTPC, so Ubuntu 11.04 was deleted and Linux Mint 11 installed.
    My workstation at work is still 10.10. It works like a charm and I dear not taint it with Unity or Gnome 3. I would rather be doing science than browsing the Ubuntu bug forums.

    Unity is so horrible for fast window switching. I find myself relying upon Alt-Tab to go between my R session, R graph window, Eclipse, spreadsheet, pdfs, etc. I also live in hope that the next LTS version will be better.

    • Yeah, being a grad student (for just a bit longer) gave me a bit of leeway – I don’t think I’ll be doing much more of this in the future, though. Particularly because I’ll be giving away my desktop machine at home shortly, which has always been my fall back. (Btw, having kids is definitely a good reason not to waste time playing with alpha releases!)

      Here’s to hoping we’ll finally get a reasonably stable, not bursting at the rims full of bugs release for the next one. (-;

  4. Just took the plunge and “upgraded” to oneiric myself. My god what a steaming pile. Found your blog as a result of googling my problems. They broke booting moving /var/run to /run and removing fsck.ntfs, they broke sound, they broke compiz (no emerald, gotta google on how to get title bars back), the whole gnome3 train wreck. Multimonitor support and running well on ATI hardware? Funny. In fact, I have yet to find anything not broken.

    Looks like I’ll be reformatting for Arch or vanilla debian shortly. I’ll give unity a try in 5-10 years or whenever we’re all running on pads instead of desktops, but until then I need a working distro.

    • Oh, and the best part?

      PID USER PR NI VIRT RES SHR S %CPU %MEM TIME+ COMMAND
      1490 root 20 0 467m 163m 85m R 96 2.7 12:14.98 Xorg
      2733 leo 20 0 674m 152m 35m R 91 2.5 11:41.14 firefox
      2892 root 39 19 295m 240m 5636 D 84 4.0 0:29.64 update-apt-xapi

      That’s right, 2 cores maxed out constantly with Xorg & firefox. Kwin will join the party with 100% cpu use as well (I run compiz instead), as will flash. So for those playing at home game, about 4 cores completely maxed at an idle desktop with just firefox and a flash ad running. Stunning!

    • Oddly enough, I’ve got just about everything working in Oneiric, at this point, with the exception of compiz and two strange oddities that involve sound any my mouse dying when I use mplayer…. Otherwise, you might want to try with a clean home folder (e.g. create a new user) to see if that helps. I certainly don’t have the same problems you do, depsite taking the same (I think) upgrade path.

  5. Pingback: Compiz works with KDE 4.8! | blog.fejes.ca

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