I UPGRADED the operating system on my MacBook Air last week and I figured I ought to do the same on my Linux desktop.
Moving from Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) to 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) on my desktop PC was nowhere as quick and easy as it was to upgrade from OS X 10.11 to macOS 10.12, but the process was nonetheless pretty straightforward and relatively trouble-free.
While it took less than an hour to perform the upgrade on my Mac, it took several hours to download and install the latest version of Ubuntu.
Much has already been written about how Unity 8, the new converged interface being developed for mobile and desktop devices, again failed to make it to the latest version of Ubuntu—although a rough preview of it is built into Yakkety (just log out and choose Unity 8 in the log-in screen).
On the surface, Ubuntu 16.10 doesn’t look very different than previous releases, and its built-in Unity 7.5 interface features just minor improvements and a few bug fixes.
To find out what’s new about Ubuntu 16.10, you have to look inside.
One of the biggest changes is the inclusion of the latest 4.8 Linux kernel, which includes improvements to open source video card drivers, support for the latest Raspberry Pi, and a possible fix for a bug that can slow down Linux wireless networks.
LibreOffice, the open source productivity suite, has been updated to 5.2, which enables users to assign a classification level to a document, a forecast function in the Calc spreadsheet application, and a single toolbar mode in Writer to help users focus on content.
Update Manager now shows changelog entries for PPAs (Personal Package Archives).
Applications provided by GNOME have been updated to at least 3.20. Many have been updated to 3.22 also. Among the improvements are: a Shortcut Windows feature that lists all of the keyboard shortcuts supported in the application you’re using; native image editing features in the Photos application; an improved GNOME calendar; and a more versatile Maps application.
The Nautilus file browser has been updated to 3.20. The upgrade means Ubuntu users will enjoy the improvements made to the GNOME file manager over the last year and a half. These include the ability to access Google Drives in Nautilus and improved file and view sorting menus. Ubuntu’s default file manager has also gained new search filters, a compact preferences dialog and support for recursive search. The new file manager also fixes one of my pet peeves with the previous version—by adding the option to display available space on a drive in the “other locations” section.
On my Ubuntu box, I’ve swapped out Unity with GNOME Flashback (Metacity) interface, and the crossover to the new distribution was almost seamless. I say almost because I experienced a glitch in the way my windows looked after the upgrade—a problem I fixed by simply changing the GTK theme. A more perplexing problem, still unsolved, is that my favorite time waster, Kmahjongg, no longer works—giving me a blank screen with no tiles. I know, there’s always GNOME Mahjongg—but it just doesn’t look as good as the KDE version.
Curiously, the Hectic Geek website found that Ubuntu 16.04 actually edged out 16.10 in terms of boot-up time, memory usage and the speed of shutdown. The new release performed better only in terms of power usage. Its recommendation: If you’re happy with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, then stick with it.
That’s a pretty fair conclusion—particularly since 16.04 is a long-term support release that will be supported until 2021.
Sierra compatibility issues: The upgrade from El Capitan to macOS Sierra I wrote about last week was not as trouble-free as I first hoped, because the new operating system doesn’t play nice with all third party applications—and I use a number of these. For example, running Gimp 2.8 on Sierra produces frequent crashes, particularly when controls in the dialog boxes need to be tweaked. MacRumors.com has posted a list of compatible and completely incompatible applications (a pretty long list) as well as programs that may run into compatibility problems—including Gimp, Aperture 3.6, Acrobat Pro 11.0.16; and CleanMyMac 3. There doesn’t seem to be a fix for the Gimp problem just yet; I will just have to wait for the developers to release an update that addresses this instability. Just another reminder that there are always risks invovled when upgrading your OS. Chin Wong
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