Testing software: Ubuntu 64-bit, Unity and PlayOnLinux, the new Wine-Doors?
I have an announcement to make: Today I made the switch to Ubuntu 64-bit.
This should have happened ages ago, I know. Well, to be honest I never had a compelling reason to do the switch until a month or so ago I got the incentive I needed: moving from 2GB to 4GB RAM.
There are lots of myths regarding the 64-bit architecture going around, so I went around asking Ubuntu 64-bit users about these. As things got cleared up (Multimedia codecs work, Java & Flash work, Wine works) I was feeling more and more certain I should switch. My boss entered my office today, helped me with a backup of my system and I threw away my 32-bit Lucid installation and moved to 64-bit Maverick. I can already feel that the system performs better! The only comparable improvement I have had was when I moved to a Flash memory SSD. Gnome and the whole desktop feels now like a breeze!
At the same time I decided to keep myself to the standard Ubuntu packages and try to avoid funky software (PPAs, external repositories, etc) as much as possible to have the most stable system I can have. I miss aptitude, but the Software Center seems to have improved a lot since the last time I tried to use it (Synaptic is just not my cup of tea) and I think i will be using that from now on as this will also allow me to give support to other fellow Ubuntu convertits. Another thing I miss is the Docky mode in Gnome-Do, but what can you do when David Siegel is part of the Unity team?
Which brings me to the next change I have made: Since it’s introduction I have always been a fan of the interface development effort Cannical has put over time in the Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR), later called Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE) and now that Maverick (Ubuntu 10.10) was released, its new interface for the Ubuntu desktop: Unity.
In my home computer I have closely followed the evolution of the software and since Lucid (Ubuntu 10.04) I have tested Unity in my everyday computer (Lenovo X200 laptop I use at work). I am writing this now using Unity and it seems pretty decent. Some responsiveness lack here and there, but all in all it seems to be going in the right direction. I got the news that the Desktop team is even making a 2D Unity variant… That means bye bye to Metacity I guess (Gnome Shell never cut the butter in my breakfast table) and a consistent Desktop for all Ubuntu users, regardless of their graphic card and OpenGL support level.
Unity is a game changer in the Free Desktop world: Gnome and Qt applications in the same desktop, without the bloat the full blown Gnome and KDE desktops bring. I love Qt applications (VLC, Spotify, Skype, Google Earth, Opera, sorry no KDE apps in my little world) and I love Gnome applications (Pidgin, GIMP, Inkscape, Gnome-Do, Rhythmbox, Banshee, Gedit, Shotwell – Yeah Gtk+ and Mono, I know) so having a unified interface where all my applications run smoothly will be great! Adding the fact that my distro comes the underlying libraries the applications need will be awesome! – Ubuntu will be different now from all other distributions. For real! And that is only a good thing.
And lastly, in the spirit of other programming enviroments, toolkits, etc… I wanted to mention something surprising I found in Maverick while installing wine: PlayOnLinux. It has everything a wine user will ever dream of, specially if you are a gamer (I am not, but I still appreciate this fantastic piece of software)
This project reminded me of everything one of the most promising wine projects I know of, Wine-Doors, wanted, dreamed and aspired to be. And it is a reality today! I got up and running with Spotify in no time as I use the Linux Preview normally, but I do also fire up the wine-powered Spotify Free once or twice a week… It’s a long story. Don’t ask.
So as Wine-Doors took-off like a rocket that used up its fuel rather quickly, Play On Linux stands as the most compelling piece for Windows software management in the GNU/Linux landscape. I am really annoyed that I didn’t know about this project before today (I like to think that I oversaw it a while ago, because I am not a gamer. but I am not sure this is the case!!??)
Anyway… This week I will be installing Ubuntu in my mother’s (Sony Vaio) and my girlfriend’s (EeePC) Netbooks. Wish me luck and give me some tips if you have any.
Thanks for reading and have a great weekend everyone!