Shiny New Ubuntu

Dr Whobuntu
Click for bigger image. You know you want to.

That’s what my desktop looks like right now. Well, not right now, obviously, as I’m typing this into Opera running full screen, but I reckon you’d much rather see a picture of Dr Who and Kylie (ahhhhhh, Kylie……..) than a load of open webpages. I know I would :) This is a promo shot for the upcoming Dr Who Christmas special. I love me some Dr Who, and this one looks to be terrific! Incidentally, if you missed the Children in Need Dr Who special, it’s up on You Tube. Short, but fun. Mentions the Master’s wife too; I reckon she was the Kamelion, a shape-shifting android from the Doctor’s past. It’ll be back, along with the Master’s ring. So he’ll be back too. All good stuff.

Anyhow. Where was I?

Oh yes. Ubuntu. If version 7.04 was the release which you’d be happy to put on your granny’s computer, 7.10 is the one you’d hack around with on your own machine. While it’s not quite as stable as it’s predecessor (read: more cutting edge, but that comes at a price) it’s still ten thousand times better than any version of Windows. In the few days since I’d upgraded I’ve had one complete system lock-up which required a reboot and disk recovery to fix, and had to recompile the graphics drivers to get them working at a decent screen resolution. That’s one lock-up too many for non-Geeks, and I’m surprised the drivers needed such drastic action. They worked pretty ell out the box on 7.04. Ah well. I guess sometimes progress can take a wrong turn too.

Those niggles aside, all is good. After the upgrade I had more free disk space, meaning less code bloat. The system uses less memory and the CPU is running cooler too. That all adds up to better power management, so the laptop lasts longer (thanks to the improvements in the kernel too) on battery. I reckon I get just over an hours’ more juice out of Ubuntu than I do in Windows, on the same system. Scary, eh?

I had intended to go “back to basics” and revert to the default Ubuntu look and feel. That’s this:

ubuntu 7.10

I lasted all of 30 minutes before changing it around. Having two panels (one at the top, another on the bottom) just seems like a massive waste of screen space. Add in the title bar (assuming you run your apps full screen. I do) and you’ve spent almost 100 pixels on stuff that’s not interesting. That’s 10% of your screen, gone. Silly, I call it.

Anyhow. I tossed one of the panels and put a tiny one along the bottom containing just a menu, a few links to my most-used apps (a terminal, Opera and a text editor), the window list, battery life monitor and a clock. Anything else is just junk, as far as I’m concerned :) I’d kill for a decent Gnome fuzzy clock though. KDE has one. Gnome needs one too.

This layout mimics Windows closely for a reason. It’s a good use of screenspace. Given the choice though, I’d rather put the bar at the top and lose the window titlebar completely. I’m sure there’s a way to do that in Gnome. I’ll go looksee.

All in all, Ubuntu 7.10 is a Good Thing. There’s an extra layer of polish to the Gnome interface but nothing has been lost in terms of performance. All in all, it’s a quicker, smarter version. I like.

Oh, and the funky Dr Who desktop wallpaper? You can get that (and others) here. Enjoy!

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