So I couldn’t sleep last night so I installed ubuntu karmic. First impressions: boot is not significantly faster, but it gives less feedback that the machine is booting. It takes a long time for some logo to come up. I wonder if having such a graphic intensive logo plus moving mouse throbber doesn’t take up some of the startup time. Anyway since I haven’t done any timing not sure if it is relevant.
Anyway, my first thought was: the new gdm is ugly. There’s definitely some missing functionality and seems to be very rough around the edges. After logging in (into a new account) I noticed that it is still true that to turn off the computer means you have to click your name. Except now there’s not even any sort of button that would indicate so. I’m also still not clear on the whole idea of seeing my user name on the screen all the time. Now it almost looks like I’m part of some chat application and I can set my “status”. Meaning it is one more “status” about me that I’d have to set if I wanted my “status” to be “not wrong” (the other ones are skype, gmail, facebook, linkedin, and some I am forgetting because I don’t really care).
Otherwise, what’s cool is that all the interface bugs due to the buggy intel drivers seem to be gone, gl apps seem to work correctly and at reasonable speed, and fullscreen video seems to sort of work too. flash is still slow as hell fullscreen, but less flickery. I do like the lack of menu icons by default and the tool bars with text next to icons to save some space.
I also used gnome-shell, and I’m not particularly impressed. Yeah it slides around and looks cool, but it doesn’t seem to be a very streamlined interface. It takes more clicks to get anywhere. My mouse has to run around to launch an app. It’s impossible to navigate the thing with a keyboard. Things that before required one or two clicks of the mouse, now require several it seems. Well I’ll see where it goes, but I don’t really see a huge improvement, in some cases it seems like it makes simple things hard, without making anything actually easier. And none of the widgets used in gnome-shell look like widgets, it looks like web designers took over my desktop. It seems that “it looks cool” is prioritized over “being consistent” and “discoverable and logical interface”. These are my problems with Vista (and likely Windows 7). I can’t ever figure out what is a button, what is a label, what am I supposed to click and what can I do with that clutter of things that’s on the screen right now.