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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 15 Nov 2012

Ubuntu 12.10 GNOME Remix: Looking at the live environment -- a work in progress

I decided to go in a different direction in my previously intended Linux testing regimen and sample the Ubuntu 12.10 GNOME Remix.

I've been fairly happy with GNOME 3.4.2 in Debian Wheezy but eager to see what GNOME 3.6 has to offer.

I could've gone Fedora, but I'm looking for a smoother transition from Debian Wheezy to whatever I run next.

The new Ubuntu 12.10 GNOME Remix seems perfect in that regard. I keep the Debian base and might even be able to install Ubuntu over Debian and keep the same partition layout.

In my Debian Wheezy GNOME 3.4 desktop, I used the Transmission bittorrent client to download the 64-bit ISO. After a few unsuccessful attempts to create a bootable USB flash drive with the image using dd and cat, I surmised that this wasn't a hybrid ISO image. So I installed unetbootin and used it to create a bootable USB drive with the Ubuntu GNOME remix. I was also able to create persistent storage on the flash drive.

Even though this is the live environment and not a proper installation. There are a few things I can say based on my brief experience with Ubuntu 12.10 GNOME Remix:

  • The "jumping tap-to-click touchpad" problem that I have in Debian Wheezy with Xfce but NOT in Debian Wheezy with GNOME 3 is present in Ubuntu 12.10 GNOME Remix.

That is a problem. And a reason to stick with Debian (or try Fedora). I haven't been able to figure out why Debian with GNOME handles this so well but everything else I've tried does not. This is a quirk peculiar to my hardware, the Lenovo G555 laptop and can be solved by turning off tap-to-click. I'd like to solve it while keeping tap-to-click, but a thorough analysis of the synclient output in Debian's GNOME 3 offers no clues.

  • GNOME 3 Shell seems faster in Ubuntu 12.10's 3.6.0 than it does in Debian Wheezy's 3.4.2.

Everything is just a little bit more responsive. Hitting the "super" key and typing in the first letters of an application are a bit smoother on the screen in Ubuntu 12.10 vs. Debian Wheezy. I don't think it's all that much faster, but it looks better. And it's a little faster. Update: I'm not sure if this is responsible for the "speed-up" in GNOME 3.6, but the GNOME Shell extension called Impatience makes things much faster and smoother on my Debian Wheezy GNOME 3 desktop. It's a great extension and works well in Wheezy's version of GNOME 3.

  • Though everything in the Ubuntu 12.10 GNOME Remix is pretty much GNOME 3.6, the Nautilus file manager remains at version 3.4.2, just like in the stock Unity edition of Ubuntu.

  • A big difference in GNOME 3.6 vs. 3.4 is the presence of an application-grid icon in the application panel on the left side of the screen.

It simplifies the look of the Activities screen that appears when you click the "super" key or mouse into the upper-left corner. This is one of the "big" changes in GNOME 3.6. I like it, but it's more evolutionary than revolutionary.