A “Ported” post from L1 to here haha. Enjoy!
I have a boring story with linux. A user of 10 years now, with many of those years distrohopping. I’ve been between systems that had precompiled packages, debs, RPM’s, installed an RPM on a debian system made in china, all sorts of stupid shit. In recent years I wanted to experiment with the most up to date I could possibly be, and arch was it. I like arch, actually. I like having the newest kernel, I like having the newest apps, the aur is god damn amazing, and if I gush anymore I’ll need a wipe. But there is one thing…. Updates make me a bit paranoid. And by that I mean if I have to do something that is relatively important to me, I do not want to go down for any reason. Ever. Arch is prone to these issues, so recently I have been stepping back to ubuntu, and at some point I may go to slackware and bring the kernel up to date. If I could NEVER update I would be happy.
So with that, I took a look at the newest ubuntu version, 17.10, over the last week. Now I will admit I have had limited seat time as I live on a farm and no one knows how to leave anyone alone around here, but still I would like to talk about it before the forum gets stuffed full of people bitching about unity.
Because I know that will happen.
So the first thing I really want to talk about is that… Well, plainly.
WAYLAND. WAS. SHIPPED.
And YET no one is blowing up about it. No one is talking about it, game devs aren’t jumping on it, openGL people aren’t really doing anything with it, its just…. There. Which is a shame really. At the start of 2016 Netrunner Rolling was an amazing thing in more than one way. It was arch, still is, but it had Wayland as its rendering system, but X as its display system. Not xWayland, just a really weird hack. It worked great, as a matter o’fact, and it was probably the happiest my little R7 370 had ever been on the ATI driver stack. Very little frame stutter, games ran great. So with Ubuntu I was looking forward to that being even bigger and better. However it doesn’t look like much work really went into that (which is why I am sticking around on 17.04 for the moment on my main machine). At that, theres some window system issues that still haven’t been completely fixed, some DE’s still don’t work… If there was a new linux sucks it would probably be based on how lavy devs have been with Wayland, which is a shame. I know what its capable of and xWayland is just the lazy answer it seems. But if you aren’t a gamer / streamer like me, wayland is amazing! Little bit of a pain in the ass, but oh well.
Next, snaps. I haven’t really played with them at all, though they have been in ubuntu, or at least usable, since 14.04. Neat! What are they? Short answer, yet another package to throw on the pyre with .debs and.rpms. BUT, they work differently. Example: The ubuntu mate devs were at the ubuntu rally and were asked to come up with a snap that they could ship in with the 17.10 release. They chose a terminal version of pavucontrol, something out of the way, but there if you need it. As it turns out, that newest and most up to date package can be used in 17.10, 17.04, 16.04, and 14.04. Perfectly fine on all systems. Not only that, but it works on Fedora, Slackware, all systems you can use snaps on. So it might be that you could go back to 14.04, update your kernel, install snap, and just install all your apps that way. Then you can shut up about unity, hopefully.
I find this amazing personally, and definitely the future of modular package management. For non-modular though, I’ll stick to pacman and the AUR for that magic. The fact that devs could just have one package though…. No more random bullshit would be nice. The software center for Snaps in 17.10 currently only has slack based apps in there like a Mail Client, Slack itself, and Discord. Theres some other stuff in there like Atom and LXD, but I’ll be excited when I can just make a script that pings out for all the snaps I want installed. Pinning to the ubuntu mate thing from earlier, Ikey of Solus is working on a snap of steam that should be relatively up to date, if not constantly, that should work across systems and get off of that wretched 12.04 base. So if you don’t know that, you should be a bit excited about that.
Last major thing is the switch to gnome. Holy fuck are people freaking out as much as possible about their precious unity. Even the deaf ones that decided to crawl out of the wood work or people who never even used unity. If you’re fake fanboying about it, fuck off. Just go away. While I don’t really like gnome very much, I could use this perfectly fine and be happy with it. Its very much supposed to be Unity, and after about 10 minutes of use you won’t really notice a difference unless you really really like to use scopes. I never really used them though. As long as I can hit a button and find my app or file that I need, I’m fine. The only thing I don’t like about Gnome is that I have to get an extension for a normal task bar / window lister. Otherwise, this is really kinda cool and if the fanboys tried it, they would probably like it.
Although it IS very annoying that there isn’t a wifi menu and that I have to go into the power menu, go to wifi, and then after connecting theres a power menu there. I don’t like gnome because it adds steps that don’t need to be there. I would rather modify my DE with the OCS store rather than fiddling in some stupid extensions store Mozilla style.
Anyways…. I’m just a curmudgeon…
Just…… Just try it. Just shut up and try it.
As for everything else, what matters to me is what I’ll talk about for the rest of this review. Those being: Terminal, Installing stuff, Package Manager, File Browser, Window management, and wifi. The above things are what I think are the biggest thing. If you want to know about default apps, they’re the same as before. Still have Rhythmbox, still have all the apps you would expect.
First – Terminal. Last time I really used ubuntu prior to my current Xubuntu install was Late 2015 early 2016 (january – feb, distrohopping times) and it was meh. I always have loved terminator the most but I like the theme. I’ll stick to terminator I think, but its pretty ok as it is.
Installing Stuff. I’m either stupid with .debs or they hate me. I have to use dpkg -i to install apps, but once I do all that magic, its done. Its a one and done deal too, vers-us the mess that the AUR can provide. So its between being up to date on arch or just do it once and forget. I don’t know which I like better really. PPA’s are still everywhere. Pretty OK. Though installing Lutris was the first time I ever added a repository. Just a side note there, I just didn’t know that was a thing I could do. Neat.
Package Manager. Its apt. I don’t like apt. It has too many terms in with it and its meh. Put pacman in it.
File Browser. I never really liked the new Ubuntu file browser TBH. I really like Thunar. It has what I want in it, and it shows everything. No hiding shit. I don’t like that I can’t see all of my drives and have to hit an extra button to see my other hard drives. Its a pain in the ass when it doesn’t need to be. Install Thunar, better. Meh.
Window Management. Like you would expect, its gnome. Theres some things added and removed that I haven’t really had the time to play with like autosnapping, but its handy enough. I’m annoyed that there isn’t a set of window buttons on the top bar and that I have to alt tab all the time, but I am used to XFCE and Gnome 2 as well. I have more to play with concerning this, but I always liked the default themes and buttons. Icons have always been trash though, sorry ;]
Lastly, Wifi. I find this important. I made my wifi menu comment earlier, but I have had wifi connect problems in the past with Atheros cards in Ubuntu. I tried multiple chips in my Thinkpad and all of them gave me issues in the past. None of them gave me any issues except one which I thought was dead and was anyways. Great! I’m excited about this. This means I can use it with just about any of my hardware, including a 2006 imac I have been trying to make a place for, and more than likely not have any problems.
If I missed anything, as I said earlier, I haven’t had much seat time with it. I wish I had more use time with it but I want this out as soon as possible. Overall? Great update. I think its weird that they did it on the beta cycle for the LTS release, but I can understand Dev circles and timing on certain things getting messy.
Verdict? Yeah, its great. Snaps are great, WAYLAND SHIPPED, IT FUCKING SHIPPED AAAAAAAAAA (oh yeah xorg is still in there but wayland y’know kekekeke), gnome is ok even if its not my favorite, all the tiny shit that I am worried about is there, even if meh to me. Yeah. Use it.
No scores, fuck you.