It's been about ten days since I installed Ubuntu 9.10 on my main computer.  Here are some thoughts on the latest and greatest version of Ubuntu, now that I've used it intensively for my daily workflow.

The Karmic Koala wasn't received happily by all corners of the Linux community.  Criticisms about the release being too buggy were widespread; some users on the Ubuntu Forums went so far as to call Karmic "Ubuntu's Vista."

A lot of those complaints are probably unfair.  Bugs exist in every operating system, especially shortly after its release.  And as one blogger wrote, just as many users expressed gripes about Jaunty when it debuted six months ago, but there was no media storm of discontent then.

In my experience, Karmic is far from an unmitigated failure.  But it's not perfect, either.  Here are its chief pros and cons, as I see them.  Naturally, these reflect only my own experience; other users doubtless have their own selfish lists of things they like and hate about Karmic.

Pros

  1. The Koala is a lot prettier than its predecessors.  I wouldn't call it unreasonably gorgeous, but the new login manager and updated themes have paid off.
  2. Faster boot times.  I've never seen any desktop Linux distribution start up this fast.
  3. My Intel graphics card's performance on my circa-2004 Dell Inspiron 1150 laptop has improved by leaps and bounds.  For the first time in history, I can run compiz on that machine with acceptable responsiveness.  (Unfortunately, I can't run compiz at all on my desktop; see "Cons").
  4. My b43 wireless card works much better.  I can connect to my university's WPA-enterprise protected network with no problems, which I couldn't do in Jaunty.
  5. Firefox 3.5 by default is nice.  I installed it in Jaunty from a PPA, but it's great to have it in Karmic without any extra effort.

Cons

  1. On my desktop, compiz doesn't work at all, due to this bug which makes X freeze due to an unclear problem with UXA acceleration and the Intel video driver.  I've diligently reported the issue, gathered the requested information and searched for workarounds, all of which have amounted to nothing.  I'm real upset about this, and will probably downgrade my desktop to Jaunty if this isn't fixed soon, because I really miss desktop effects.
  2. The volume applet, which has been totally and inexplicably redesigned for each Ubuntu release in recent memory, has taken a step backwords.  There are no "+" or "-" buttons for clicking to raise or lower the volume, which is annoying.
  3. npviewer.bin--the dirty hack that makes the 32-bit flash plugin for Firefox work on 64-bit kernels--ate up half of my CPU for no good reason.  I nixed that by wiping out npviewer and installing Adobe's 64-bit flash plugin, which works great and really should be the default by now.
  4. The weather applet that used to display next to my clock no longer works.  I haven't yet figured this out, and I really miss knowing whether it's sunny or cloudy without the hassle of having to look out my window.
  5. The init.d script for the NetworkManager daemon has been renamed, which I find slightly obnoxious.  It makes sense to get rid of the needless upper-case, but I suspect this will be a point of frustration for users following documentation that has not been updated.
Overall, Karmic is a fine release, especially given that it's LTS-1.  But it also presents some non-trivial bugs that Ubuntu developers should really work on before designing the next iteration of the volume applet.