Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Beta 1 Review And Screenshots Tour

In case you are still not aware, Canonical (the team behind Ubuntu) has released the first beta of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric. There are several new additions to the family, notably the revamp of the Ubuntu Software Center and the replacement of the Evolution with Thunderbird. Follow us for the full review and screenshots tour of the Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Beta 1.

Let’s get into some of the technical part first. The Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Beta 1 is shipped with the 3.0.0-9.15 Ubuntu kernel which is based on the Linux v3.0.3 kernel. The desktop manager has been upgraded to Gnome 3.2.

LightDM as the login manager

The first screen that greets you after you boot up is the new login manager. The usual GDM is now replaced with the lightweight LightDM.

oneiric-lightdm-login

Apart from its lightweight, LightDM has several advantages over the GDM. It loads faster than GDM (as it has a smaller codebase and doesn’t require Gnome session to start) and is more customizable than GDM.

Unity Desktop

Similar to Ubuntu Natty, the default UI is still the Unity 3D. In case your hardware doesn’t support Compiz (which is required to run Unity 3D), instead of dropping back to the Ubuntu Classic (Gnome with panel), the fallback UI for is the Unity 2D, which works (almost) the same as the 3D version.

oneiric-unity-desktop

The old Gnome (gnome with panel) and Gnome Shell are not installed by default in this release. However, you can easily install it with the command line:

A new Alt-Tab switcher

The “Alt + Tab” hotkey to switch between windows now come with a live preview of the opened applications.

oneiric-alt-tab

“Places” were renamed to “Lenses”

The Unity Places (where you find the files and applications) were renamed to “Lenses” to providing an unifying experience. The Unity Dash, which used to be at the top left hand corner of the screen, has been moved to the first position of the Unity bar. The Dash is now quite comprehensive, allowing you to search for files and applications and filter results according to ratings, range, categories etc. It also comes with a new Music lens where you can search for songs in your Music collection.

oneiric-dash-application

oneiric-dash-folders

oneiric-music-lens

oneiric-dash-filter

Streamlined Appindicator bar

The Appindicator bar located at the top right corner of the screen is streamlined with many of the features integrated into the messaging menu. From the messaging menu, you can now set your IM status, access your mail and Ubuntu One.

oneiric-appindicator

There is also a “Clear” options to clear all your incoming tweets, emails, IM notification without having to open the corresponding apps.

New shortcuts have also been added to the Power icon. You can now access the System Settings, Displays setting, Startup Applications and Update Manager right from the power icon.

oneiric-power-icon

Integration of the window control to the global menu

The title and menu bar were moved to the global menu in Ubuntu Natty. Now, even the Windows control (the set of icons where you close, minimize and maximize the window) is added to the global menu, giving you even more screen space. It will be hidden by default until you hover your mouse over it.

oneiric-window-control

Thunderbird

Evolution has been removed and replaced with Thunderbird email client. Even though Evolution has done its jobs well, this is still a welcome change as the Thunderbird is more customizable through extensions.

oneiric-thunderbird

Déjà Dup

This is the first time Canonical includes a backup tool into Ubuntu and the backup application of choice is Déjà Dup. Déjà Dup is an easy to use backup tool that makes backing up your files a dead simple task.

oneiric-deja-dup

Ubuntu Software Center

Ubuntu Software Center has gone through a UI revamp, making it looks more like the Mac App Store. It loads much faster now as compared to the USC in Ubuntu Natty. For seasoned users, you will be sad to know that Synaptic Package Manager is no longer installed by default. Canonical attempts to replace Synaptic with USC, but personally, I still feel that USC is not ready for the prime time yet.

oneiric-software-center

For those who wish to get Synaptic back can install via the command:

Other applications

Firefox 7 beta 3 is used as the default browser. Totem is still the default movie player (I think there are many other better alternative that Canonical should look into). LibreOffice is still the default office suite, though it still doesn’t support the global menu integration yet.

Is Ubuntu Oneiric better than Ubuntu Natty? The answer is Yes. Switching to LightDM and Gnome 3 make the whole system much snappier. Applications (especialy Ubuntu Software Center) load much faster and the Dash and lenses is much useful than before.

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Beta 1 is free and can be downloaded here.

Current Ubuntu 11.04 users can upgrade their system by pressing “Alt+F2” and type in “update-manager -d“.

The next scheduled release of Ubuntu Oneiric will be the Beta 2 on Sept 22nd and the final stable version on Oct 13th.

15 comments

  1. i agree, 11.10 is much better than 11.04 but really liked all the freedoms of 10.10 as far as customizations and the desktop cube and flip windows worked much smoother. it could just be my older desktop

    • I think it is the Unity desktop that you dislike. Architecture wise, Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10 are much better than 10.10. it is just that the integration of Unity desktop is not up to the standard yet.

      • i like the look of unity,it is a nice change from the ms windows look that has been around since i don’t know when. i am just saying there seems to be some sort of conflict when initiating the desktop cube and flip windows but is something i can live without since it is only used on rare occasions.after testing 11.10 it is very nice.just install it and leave it alone and it works fantastic.i added a few video plug-ins to FF 7 and they work fine and dandy. anyways i am looking forward to the beta 2 update today, i mean if its ready ;-)

        • As Ubuntu Oneiric is still in beta, there are still many bugs yet to be solved. The compatibility with Compiz is one such bugs. Personally I have encountered plenty of Compiz crashes. A good thing is, the recent update seems to have fixed the issue. i am getting lesser crashes now.

  2. Since 10.04 Ubuntu has been gradually testing and transitioning to their full vision of Unity.  Personally I think it is a great idea.  Also great that you can still install classic gnome in you want to customise.  I’m looking beyond 11.10 to a 12.04 release that improves on all the changes seen so far AND also allows flexibility to customise.

    • Yes, I think “customise” is the keyword here. While the Unity desktop looks good, the only thing that keep people away is the inability to customize it to suit their needs. I am looking forward to the day where they make the Unity desktop fully customisable, just like the old classic Gnome.

    • Unity for Ubuntu 11.10 is built on top of Gnome 3, so theoretically, they are the same. They are only different in the user interface and usage.

    • I don’t know about that, I’ve used Unity and the Gnome3 interface and from what I’ve experienced, Gnome3 (the interface) is light years behind unity. I’ve tried Fedora 15 and Opensuse 11.4 both with Gnome3 and to me, Gnome3 is still in the infant stage compared to Unity. I mean they both are in the infant stage, but Unity is far more advanced than Gnome3, so much that it’s not even worth using yet. 

  3. The software center has developed a lot from that of 10.10. But however I am happy with 10.10

  4. Places renamed to Lenses? Very unintuitive.
    I also totally dislike the integration of the windows’ control menu to the desktop menu. Whenever I have small windows open on the bottom of the screen I have to hover my mouse up and down to get to the menu. Stupid design in my opinion.

    • There are plenty of changes and less user control in Ubuntu Oneiric. In short, it is becoming more and more like Mac, and less of Linux.

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