So what's "oneiric" anyway?
I still don't really know, and as far as I read on the Inet I indeed share this fate with many native english speakers. Nevertheless I upgraded my home PC to Ubuntu 11.10, the "Oneric Ocelot", just some days ago and will collect my impressions here without further ado:
What I like:
- Yes, the interface got snappier and faster on the whole. Not that I really regarded Natty as slow but the improvement is felt and appreciated.
- Revamped system settings, now more integrated and "dumbed down" for good (in the most positive way I am able to say something like this). Many advanced settings missing of course (compiz!) but these still can be found on the dash
- Installer. Helped to sanitize a shipwrecked Natty update on the PC of my daughter with its own "upgrade" option. It actually installs the system anew but tries to keep all the settings (at least this is what I assume it did). Also intelligent enough to directly install the usual proprietary enhancements (mp3 decoder and the like) and not to crash&burn when it cannot reinstall all the applications that were there on the previous install. Instead a nice and "speaking" error message comes up and the process is able to proceed. Thats the most MacOS-like user experience (again ,as positive as I...) I ever had with ubuntu. Overall a nice piece of work.
What I'm indifferent about (but shouldn't be):
- Improved dash. Well, duh. Might be better than the Natty thing but the concept still does not really gripe. The "lenses" buttons on the bottom are very small and unimpressive so you're most likely to forget about lenses altogether. I appreciate the easier way to filter applications, but still think that it is a too long way to get there. I would really like to disable the display of yet-to-install apps, so the installed ones get more display space directly. Why would I really want to install any application via the dash? I do not see any information about it here apart from the title and icon. Before I install it I want to be sure that it really qualifies for what I want to do, which I can't tell from here. Wouldn't a single small link "Install more x apps from the software center" make more sense here?
- Tray area rearranged once again. Will this ever get to rest someday or will we continue to find yet another "definitely right way to do it" every six months? It not really got worse but many things are at a different place again. The "Me" menu, introduced with much noise a year ago, is gone. Some new menu entries actually may make sense (Updates, Connected Devices), some maybe don't (Online accounts? I added my google account there, but what does it actually do?) .Whatever: Please please please let there be a "right" version one day whose concept keeps being right across time apart from fine-tuning.
- Revamped software center, may be a bit nicer than before but actually not really visually appealing for me, The new installation history actually would be of some value if it didn't operate on package level and I were able to undo installations from here.
- LightDM login screen. It can be clearly seen that LightDM is a platform which can deliver a better/more modern login screen experience. However I don't really like it's current theme. I find the "carousel style" user name list to be simply ugly. Additionally it reacts to slow on user selection. User icons are gone here, but still configurable while nowhere seen. The background is boring, but you can change this using a niftly little tool introduced over there at OMG! Ubuntu. Positive: It boots faster.
What's simply annoying:
- DVDStyler stopped working :( It still lets you arrange your DVD to create in every detail, then dies horribly upon ISO generation. Hope they fix this. According to me this is the only really straight-forward and self-explainatory DVD autoring tool around on Linux. [Update: Fixed since 27. Nov]
- According to what people say they broke multi monitor support in Oneiric. This is why I refrain from updating my "workhorse" notebook to this release, as multi monitor support ist most important to me. So I will keep an eye on the corresponding bug reports before considering any further updates.
Well, all in all I can recommend Oneiric mainly because of the snappier UI, and only if DVDStyler and multi monitor support is of no importance for you. It may generally be a good advice to just wait some more weeks to let things improve. They say there will be a final Unity SRU release in the next days so things may get better after that.
I still consider Oneiric being a good inbetween step between Natty and the new LTS if they spend a large amount of the available time now by ironing out the small inconsistencies and missing links which still exist. As can be seen on my list I regard many of the "killer improvements" that Oneiric does feature to be of lesser importance and impact. I think the focus should get away from these (maybe except the dash) and instead be on those minor improvements that are needed for a more consistent Unity UI:
- More customizing possibilities for the launcher, including its position (left/right) and its launcher items. Especially a way to add custom launchers to it. I personally would like folder-like launcher items where I could group apps that are there for some special purpose (Office tasks, Design, Sound Studio apps, freq. played games etc).
- Maybe even be able to disable the launcher completely, so people can continue to use their favorite dock replacement.
- Better ways to navigate applications. The dash lens would be ok if it would have more space to display installed apps and would come up directly with the filters instead.
- Make generic UI improvements like global menu and hidden scrollbars work better. Global menu still does not work for all main apps. Hidden scrollbars crash some apps (Eclipse) and generally seem to annoy many people (not me). You should be able to switch them off.