Friday, April 27, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin: The HUD effect

To begin with, I won't go into much of technical nitty gritty - you can check it from the ubuntu website itself.

My blog is from end user perspective. I'll share some cool screen shots of ubuntu and highlight the essential improvement ubuntu has made in it's cool new distro.

Unity interface was bad in Ubuntu 11.10 to be honest and I didn't like it at all. I preferred staying back with Ubuntu Natty 11.04 which I thought was the best Ubuntu distro released. Till I came across Ubuntu Precise.

Unity looks really good in Precise and doesn't feel heavy (like I felt while installing 11.10). Menu is redefined like 11.10 which many users didn't like.
Agreed it may be unsettling initially but once you get used to it, the left side tool bar and the new menu option is quite handy, especially if you have installed too many programs.

Bundled Softwares

AisleRiot Solitaire
FreeCell Solitaire
Mahjongg Mines

Document Viewer
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Desktop Sharing

Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Sound Recorder

Document Viewer

New Features

  • HUD
  • Video Lens
  • Linux Kernel 3.2.*
  • UbuntuOne with a control panel

I have kept HUD at the very last intentionally. HUD is really futuristic.

Regular Features

Firefox 12.0 is the default browser but you can download Chrome from Ubuntu Software Center.

Adobe Flash is not installed by default but you can download either from Software center or from the Adobe website itself.  Similarly some handy internet tools like Skype, photoshop softwares like Gimp, etc. needs to be downloaded after installation.

Office productivity suite is LibreOffice and after using Office 2010 in my work computer and the amount of time wasted in opening and saving a document, I prefer LibreOffice more than Office 2010. Functionality and productivity options are same in both, you can automate both using VBA; but LibreOffice is very fast, loads within seconds and is easier to use. Now you can save your documents in LibreOffice format and open in Office 2010 as well!

LibreOffice has Writer (like Word), Calc (like Excel), Impress (like Powerpoint) and Base (Access) along with Draw (somewhat like visio). All in all, a complete office suite. No need for anything else.

For viewing media, however, I don't like the default player. VLC is my preferred choice and you can download VLC from Software Center or directly from website. VLC plays any and every kind of media.

Instant messenger softwares are in abundance for Ubuntu and you can choose between pidgin or empathy. Gwibber is a good Facebook & Twitter client and Thunderbird is a really good email client.

Functionality-wise Ubuntu always has been a complete package. Coming on to the eye-candy part - Ubuntu too is in the Apple mode. Like Mac OS X has a docky, the side bar has similar functionality. You can put your most commonly used programs there. Plus all open programs would be visible there.

Some linux experts simply hate Unity. But users like me, whose Windows desktop would always be full of shortcuts, definitely dig this idea. Instead of going through a long list of menu, the Unity side bar kind of helps increasing efficiency.

I like Ubuntu 12.04 LTS for it's cool transparent looks and Ubuntu has created a new identity from a boring linux desktop (of course, you can make it look like anything, from Mac to Windows, like I made my 11.04 desktop look like a Mac) to a true competitor to Mac and Windows - it has come a long way. And in HUD, it has surpassed it's competition.

Now I guess Ubuntu can capture some market share from Linux Mint :).

All the results shown above are after booting from a pen drive. Now I am installing Ubuntu Precise to my desktop. Already my Asus Eee PC 1101HA, from which I am typing this entry, has Xubuntu 12.04 LTS and it is the fastest OS I ever had on my netbook. Why I installed Xubuntu? I wanted to try it and I wanted something less resource intensive. That's it!

Once I install Precise to my PC, I'll update this blog entry - hopefully tomorrow.

HUD, finally

28th April 2012, 12:45 PM IST:
Ubuntu is installed to my system, without any hassles. Only I had to blacklist poulsbo. It connected to my earthlink broadband without any problem and downloaded some 400 mb updates with new linux kernel.

I am unable to run Unity 3D due to system limitation but Unity 2D gives pretty decent performance. Of course, I have installed xubuntu-desktop as an additional backup.

The best thing I like about Precise is HUD. Going away from the standard menu that we see across all OSs and coming up with something so different is absolutely path-breaking. I hope I'll come to see more on this line in future versions.

All in all, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is a neat distro which can take on any operating system in the world with it's path-breaking Unity and HUD. Kudos to the developers for coming up with such a refined OS.


  1. I still don't like Unity. I prefer old GNOME desktop with the addition of a Cairo Dock, so that it doesn't look boring. GNOME's way more customizable than Unity.

    Precise might snatch some market share from Mint due to Unity lovers, but I believe that would be nullified by GNOME-aficionados who will most certainly switch to Mint.

    1. I agree with your views Darshak. Initially Unity seemed very attractive but a true assessment is that it is not required the way I thought. Cairo dock or docky is more handy with GNOME. Unity is not at all customizable. Customization is the most important reason for me to shift to linux from Windows and like me, many users. If that is lost, then what is the charm of using Linux? Of late, ubuntu is pursuing imac's path, it seems.

    2. Well, never used Mac, so I can't comment on that point...

      But I haven't used the other Ubuntu flavours either. Are they, according to you, customizable?

    3. I am using Xubuntu Precise in one of my netbooks and it gives me gnome feel. It is customizable with cairo dock/docky and conky. I haven't tried customization beyond that, to be honest. Further, it uses 20% less RAM and CPU compared to Ubuntu. Also, you may give Lubuntu a shot as well. You can also change the look and feel there without compromising on the performance. It is the lightest of the Ubuntu clan and runs very fast.

    4. Thank you.

      I too have an old desktop with 1.25 GB RAM and 1.6 GHz CPU, running Maverick (I dumped both Windows and Oneiric), and according to some of your posts I've read, either Lubuntu or Peppermint seems perfect for it. :)

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