Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS Review: Now I like Unity!

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is possibly one of the most landmark long term release for Ubuntu and Canonical for a couple of reasons. Number one, it is the first long term release with Unity desktop. Second, first time the LTS is supported for 5 years. Love it or hate it, Unity has now become synonymous with Ubuntu. And after reviewing a lot of distros with stock Gnome 3 as desktop, I now understand why canonical didn't pursue Gnome 3. Unity, at least, is intuitive and easier to use even for a Linux novice. If that right side strip irritates you, simply check the auto-hide option. Agree, customisation is sacrificed if you use Unity, but it looks elegant.

From Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

From Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
The primary issues bothering Unity, in my experience, were high resource usage and instability - the reasons for which I quit Ubuntu to use Linux Mint, which I found to be much more stable. In Ubuntu 12.04 LTS first release, just to load Unity required about 400 MB of RAM for the 32-bit OS. With 12.04.1 LTS, RAM and CPU usage dropped significantly - it took about 280 MB of RAM and 1-10% CPU usage. However, applications crashing in the background (though not shutting down the system) was always a pain even in Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS.


With Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS release my expectation was latest applications, a bit more stability and third, better performance. I could see this update of Ubuntu satisfying 2/3 of my wishes. I tested Ubuntu 12.04.2 on my Asus K54C with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM.

Installation was easy as before and without any issue. I downloaded all multimedia codecs and third party software along with the installation. I did a direct installation from live usb (created using Unetbootin). Sound, resolution, touchpad and wifi - all worked as expected and without any manual intervention.

Applications
Application list is same as before with Firefox and Thunderbird updated to the latest version. LibreOffice is still 3.5 (my expectation of at least 3.6 still unfufilled). GIMP is still 2.6 in the Ubuntu software center (How long should we wait for GIMP 2.8 in the LTS?). Since I downloaded the multimedia codecs and Adobe flashplugin during installation, I could listen to music, watch videos and live streams without requiring to download any other update/software after installation.

From Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Unity in 12.04 still doesn't have web apps or photo lens like in Ubuntu 12.10. Possibly they'll be introduced in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. I seriously wish Ubuntu Precise to have the social network integration of Quantal.

Performance
Notable improvement I could see is in Unity's stability and performance. Under similar conditions and on the same laptop, from 280 MB RAM usage in Ubuntu 12.04.1, it has come down by 20%. Now in Ubuntu 12.04.2, to load Unity with system monitor running, it takes 230 MB RAM and 1-10% CPU usage. Definitely some hard work is going behind Unity and I could see the improvements. In last 4 days of usage, no application crashed in the background, smoothness has increased significantly and now I could actually enjoy working on Ubuntu. However, Ubuntu 12.10 is still a pain and better stick to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

From Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
In terms of Performance, if I compare with comparable Gnome 3 and Cinnamon distros, Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS is in the top 5 for sure. And not surprisingly Ubuntu 12.10 is the bottom.

-->
OS Base Distro Desktop Linux CPU Usage RAM Usage
Pure OS 6 Debian Gnome 3.4.2 3.5.0 1-5% 165 MB
Mint 13 Cinnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.4 3.2.0 1-10% 200 MB
Mint 14 Cinnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 3.5.0 1-10% 221 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.4 3.5.0 1-10% 230 MB
Pear OS 6 Ubuntu Pear Aurora 1.0.5 3.2.0 1-5% 235 MB
ROSA 2012 Fresh Gnome Mandriva Gnome 3.6.2 3.6.10 1-10% 235 MB
Snowlinux 3 White CInnamon Ubuntu Cinnamon 1.6.7 3.5.0 1-5% 260 MB
Elementary OS Beta 1 Ubuntu Pantheon, Gnome derivative 3.2.0 1-5% 270 MB
LuninuX 12.10 Ubuntu Gnome 3.6 with Docky 3.5.0 1-5% 280 MB
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.4 3.2.0 1-10% 280 MB
Fedora 17 Gnome Fedora Gnome 3.4.1 3.3.4 1-10% 296 MB
Zorin 6 Core Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 3.2.0 1-10% 300 MB
Fedora 18 Gnome Fedora Gnome 3.6.2 3.7.2 1-10% 310 MB
OpenSUSE 12.2 Gnome OpenSUSE Gnome 3.4.2 3.4.6 1-10% 310 MB
Pinguy OS 12.04 Ubuntu Gnome 3.4.1 3.2.0 1-5% 325 MB
Ubuntu 12.10 Ubuntu Unity with Gnome 3.6 '3.5.0 1-10% 412 MB


Overall
Ubuntu 12.04.2 is a significant update for the LTS version. I could note definite improvement in performance and stability. Application list is still a disappointment with no updated LibreOffice or GIMP. However, there is a way to add the latest LibreOffice manually without interfering with Ubuntu's stability. But, I would like to see the updated applications in Precise repository.

Anyway, I am happy that my wishes of improvement in Unity's performance and stability are met with the latest update. Now actually Unity is usable. Also, Linux newbies, if you are thinking of starting your Linux experience with Ubuntu - please start with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and not Ubuntu 12.10. Quantal is still scary and it is best to avoid right now. Stay with the long term release!

You can download Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS (32 and 64 bit versions) from here.

34 comments:

  1. Nice work! Much appreciated!

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  2. and 13.04 is another step forward...running it without problems here

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    Replies
    1. Cool. Will try out 13.04 alpha 2 soon :)

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  3. How did you feel the dash? Was it responsive? I have a pretty capable machine and for me it takes ~1 sec to display the dash. If I compare it to say 'Synapse' it's just no contest, 'Synapse' is instant.
    Nice review, cheers!

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    Replies
    1. Responsiveness has improved definitely. I didn't note any lag in showing the dash with Ubuntu 12.04.2. It was instant for me on Core i3 machine.

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    2. By the by, thanks for liking my review :).

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  4. I am glad that I read your review prior to my desktop upgrade.
    At work Ubuntu is the distro of choice, and I need to upgrade 10.04 LTS when it runs out of support in April.
    I will give Unity a try on 12.04.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Ubuntu 12.04.2 is working much better now. Even Unity is a lot more efficient.

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  5. Thanks for another excellent review, Arindam. I'm also noticing significantly faster performance with 12.04.2. I love Unity. It uses vertical space on small screens more efficiently than any other DE (compare side-by-side with maximized windows), and it makes for very fast workflow once you learn it, especially the keyboard shortcuts.

    By the way, you can easily and automatically keep up with the latest Gimp (it's 2.8.4 on my machine right now) via a ppa. See http://www.ubuntugeek.com/how-to-install-gimp-2-8-2-in-ubuntu-12-04-precise.html

    I also highly recommend Jupiter if you have a laptop. It really improves the battery life. There's a ppa for it on the webupd8 site.

    David

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    Replies
    1. I heard they stopped development for it. But it's still a great applet!

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    2. Yes, Jupiter is no longer being developed. Nice app though!

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    3. arindam babu, do you know any alternatives for jupiter for my eeepc.
      and Thanks for the review. It was really informative.

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    4. Try Fuduntu Ratikant. It saves a lot of juice, I use it on my EeePC and battery lasts for more than 5 hours.

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  6. Where is Crunchbang!!! if it has been included sure it got first place!

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    Replies
    1. I don't think that Crunchbang comes with a Cinnamon/Gnome 3.X/Unity desktop

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    2. Crunchbang comes with Openbox and is diff distro than Ubuntu. By the by, I am working on a study comparing all available openbox distros (incl. crunchbang) and will publish it soon.

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    3. I can't wait your openbox (Crunchbang)review
      Thanks advance

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    4. Planning next weekend to do a detailed comparison of available Openbox distros like Crunchbang, Archbang, Manjaro, Sparkylinux, Slackel, SalentOS, etc. Hope you'll like it.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  7. Hi Arindam, the latest LTS Ubuntu still uses older 3.3x version kernel and not the 3.2 as listed on your comparison chart. Great review btw, I started with Unity and the initial 11.04 was a bit laggy but by 11.10 things were improving rapidly and with the latest 12.10, Unity simply rocks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Arup,

      Thanks for reading my article. I guess for 12.04.1 it was at the time when I tested to record the specs. I maintain a log of the distros I test and whenever reqd reference from it. :).

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  8. ...you made me want to try Ubuntu once more. now it's on my mom's machine, and just added it next to my Kubuntu 12.04.2 (which is my favorite--yes even over Mint KDE).

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  9. But for the screenshots I'd guess you were using Unity 2D. What about the standard Unity? I'd use Unity 2D but it will remain only in 12.04 :(

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    Replies
    1. I used both standard Unity & Unity 2D. Screenshots are a bit mixed comprising of both. My review is for the standard Unity only.

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    2. Oh, cool :)
      I'm using 12.04.2 at the moment and I'm really loving it... I love Unity now as well, let's hope Raring will be better than Quantal!

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    3. Raring's unity looks more attractive and I am also hoping for an improved performance. Lets wait and watch :).

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  10. I have saved this page! So awesome review. There is a table, so easy to understand. I rarely find this on another web, even OMGUbuntu. Thank you. Thank you from Indonesia.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for liking my blog and tabular comparison of Linux distros.

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  11. I switched over from lucid to precise in My of last year. Took awhile to get used to unity, even though I still prefer gnome 2, I am quite used to unity (with all it's little quirks). I run precise on a vanilla Dell 1545 and it runs quite happily.

    Alternatively, I run xubuntu precise on an old Athlon 1800+, that I use as a download and media server. That being said, I much prefer ubuntu 12.04 over xubuntu.

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    Replies
    1. Ubuntu looks better than the default interface of Xubuntu. But I find Xubuntu to be more resource efficient. Also, whatever advantages you are getting from Unity can be easily fulfilled by a docky as well.

      Anyway, it is good to see Unity getting better with every release and there is a clear increase in stability and performance from where it started with 11.04 Natty Narwhal release.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  12. Hi Arindam,

    Thanks for the review. Good One. I agree with the use of Jupiter. Now, my battery usage is as good as what I get on Windows 7.

    If only there was a way to update the BIOS/Firmware through Linux (Thats my Vendor's problem, not Ubuntu's), I would be off Win 7 :)

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  13. Hi Arindam,

    Thanks for the review. Good One. I agree with the use of Jupiter. Now, my battery usage is as good as what I get on Windows 7.

    If only there was a way to update the BIOS/Firmware through Linux (Thats my Vendor's problem, not Ubuntu's), I would be off Win 7 :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Peripetual:

      Thanks for likng my review. Absolutely, Fuduntu is the max juice saver among all Linux distros I have used. But, on the bios update problem, I guess Ubuntu wiki mentions ways to do it - this is for Dell https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DellBIOS

      Similar links are available for other brands as well. I am running Linux only in all my laptops without any issue for last couple of years, though I haven't updated BIOS yet.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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