I haven’t had time yet to rebuild my main system with Ubuntu 11.10, so I did a fresh install on my netbook to try it out. My Eee PC 901 originally shipped with Linux, but it was very Ubuntu unfriendly until 9.04. Since then, all the hardware has been well supported by Ubuntu.
As usual, I ran the installer from a bootable USB drive created with Ubuntu’s Startup Disk Creator. Ubiquity, the Ubuntu installer, is more polished than ever in this release. It can now turn on the webcam to take an account picture, which worked perfectly with the built in webcam. I encountered two minor installer bugs: an incorrect report that the system’s name already exists on the network, and the window becoming taller than the screen.
I wish that I could have aborted the language pack downloads during the install. Since the repository mirror was slow, they took over an hour to fetch.
Disk IO seems to really slow the system down. The Eee PC 901 has dual solid state drives: one 4 GB and one 16 GB which is slightly slower. This time, I installed Ubuntu to the slower but larger drive because I’ve had trouble keeping enough free space while installed to the smaller one. I might have to switch back to the faster drive to speed things up again. Using Chromium is a big improvement to Firefox, which freezes up briefly while accessing the disk. Even without the disk issue, Unity feels a bit sluggish on this 3 year old netbook. There’s a noticeable delay drawing menus and opening the dash.
There are a few bugs to work out:
- Dragging with the touchpad is now very difficult. [Update: I've written 2 posts on fixing this and swapping right and middle click]
- I had the touchpad stop working entirely once (a USB mouse continued working). I haven’t been able to reproduce this.
- I couldn’t get the launcher to appear with the mouse after it auto-hid. After closing the windows I had open, the problem went away. I haven’t been able to reproduce this.
- The system seems to have started randomly having kernel panics today. One happened while copying a file to a flash drive, and another while filling out the bug report for the first. [Update: Here's the latest bug report]
I’ve never had a problem with Ubuntu as severe as the kernel panic crashes. Fortunately I don’t rely on the netbook for much right now.