I recently installed Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal on my desktop system. It’s a multi-boot setup along with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS and Windows XP. One of the first things I’ve noticed after the install was the Grub menu is no longer visible. I’m getting a “signal out of range” error.
The Grub menu still works however. If wait long enough, after 10 seconds, the default Ubuntu 11.04 installation is launched. Choosing another option is like throwing darts in the dark. You don’t really know what you’ve selected until after the operating system is launched. The “signal out of range” error means Ubuntu has selected an incorrect screen resolution or refresh rate for Grub.
You can correct this by installing the “Startup Manager” and choosing the correct resolution. I’ve set my resolution to 1280 x 1024 and 24 bits. After setting the correct setting, you will need to reboot. The Grub Menu should be visible. If not repeat the process until the menu appears.
If everything goes according to plan, Canonical is set to release Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal tomorrow, April 28. There will be some drastic changes to the desktop with Unity replacing Gnome 3 as the graphical environment. LibreOffice is also replacing OpenOffice for the Office productivity tools. In addition, Ubuntu is also set to release the Ubuntu Server, Xubuntu, Kubuntu among others.
It should be a fun day tomorrow. I will be downloading and installing 11.04 on a virtual machine. By the way, I have been using Unity on my Ubuntu 10.04 desktop system for several days now to get a head start with Unity. I can’t wait to get my hands on Natty Narwhal to see the latest and greatest from Ubuntu.
The neat thing about Linux is you can test certain features of the distribution before they become part of an official release. Unity is such a case. You can install and play around with it before it hits the store. So to speak. Unity is the future default desktop environment for Ubuntu starting with Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. It will replace the the steady and unflappable Gnome 3.
My first impressions were not good. Although navigation and the overall feel of Unity were very positive, I had one big issue. Opening any of the new browsers (Firefox or Chrome) in full screen mode, resulted in a blank white screen. Minimizing the browser seem to work.
So, I abandoned Unity, swearing it still needed a lot of work. After all, Unity is still under development, just to be fair. A few weeks later, I came back to Unity. The full screen browser mode seems to be fixed. Now, I can really test this new desktop/netbook environment.
Working with Unity is like driving a new car, and driving on the left side of the road at the same time. It takes a whole lot to getting used to. One major impression I got with Unity is, it really is geared towards netbooks. Every application seem to start in full screen mode. This is fine if you own a netbook.
If you have a desktop, applications tend to be stretched out. I have a desktop with lots of screen real estate. I don’t need every application to start in full screen mode? And where is the minimize button when you need one?
It’s going to take a while to get use to Unity. It has its advantages. Switching applications seems to be easier. The icons of every active application are laid out on top of the bar. Clicking on any of the icons switches the user to that application. Clicking the Ubuntu icon clears the screen and displays the Unity menu.
After a few hours with Unity, I miss Gnome badly. I’m lost at times, and that happens in a new environment. I will test it for a few days, perhaps two weeks before coming down with a final verdict.
The next Ubuntu release, version 11.04, code name Natty Narwhal, will be so drastically different than any Ubuntu release, that you may not recognize it at first glance. The changes are going to be so dramatic. First of all, the Gnome Shell we are all accustomed to seeing, will be replaced by the Unity interface, which is already the standard in Ubuntu Netbook releases. Here’s a sneak peek of the Unity interface.
The Unity interface’s main strength is having easy access to applications. The familiar Gnome pull down menu taskbar at top of the screen will go away, to be replaced with Unity’s icons on the left side of the screen. The Unity interface comes with social media in mind. Unity users will be able to access Twitter and Facebook straight from their desktop.
In terms of office suite, LibreOffice will replace Open Office as announced earlier by Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu releases. In addition, Firefox 4 will be the default browser, along with Banshee, which will replace the Rythmbox Music Player.
Finally, here’s a sneak video of Ubuntu running the Unity interface.