Gutsy Gibbon review

Early in the week, I decided to avoid the release rush and go ahead and update my laptop to Ubuntu's Gutsy Gibbon release. Overall, it's quite good, with one caveat I'll elaborate on later.

I'd been having some issues with fonts following a session at ZendCon where I hooked my laptop up to a widescreen display, and the updates fixed all those issues. Most things that worked before continued to work, and often in an improved way. The various new themes available -- from GDM to GTK to window manager themes -- make for some pretty displays, and I've found a new look for my desktop that I really like.

Among the improvements, it installed trackerd, a desktop search tool. I'd tried installing this on my own before, but ran into a ton of dependency issues I couldn't fix. Prior to this, I'd used beagle, which worked okay, but tended to overlook a lot of files. Trackerd, on the other hand, indexed my entire box overnight, and stays on top of new files easily. Couple this with the 'deskbar', and I now have the type of desktop search I've only seen in Macs.

Last night, I stumbled upon a forum thread detailing how to get X compositing working with ATI cards. This was something I've been continually disappointed with; my card supposedly supports it, but every time I've tried using it, I find it unusable -- lots of wierd screen artifacts, and a huge slowdown in responsiveness. After following the directions in the linked article, however, I now have compositing going -- window drop shadows, translucency for inactive windows, etc. It looks really nice, and doesn't seem to be slowing down the machine at all.

No review would be complete without a gripe though, right? And I've got a big one. In the past, one of the strengths of ubuntu for me has been that suspend and hibernate have just worked. With this upgrade, however, they no longer work for me. Evidently, a new kernel option was enabled that is supposed to speed up these operations... However, the available ATI drivers do not support this option, which leads, in my case, to a complete inability to suspend or hibernate, and for others, lockup on resume. Supposedly ATI will be releasing new drivers that will fix the issue, but there's no published time frame for when that will happen. Additionally, ubuntu made no announcements about the issue, and provides no workarounds. To me, this is a huge BC break, and should have been addressed prior to the release, particularly as there were many, many complaints about it in the weeks prior to the release.

Gripes aside, I find the new functionality fantastic, and look forward to ATI's release of new drivers for its Radeon series cards. Perhaps this release will keep me happy enough that I won't keep lusting for a shiny new Macbook too much.

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