Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” Alpha 5 Reviewed

By | 2009/09/07

I very briefly tried out the fifth alpha release of Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” tonite and I thought I would share some of my immediate impressions with the rest of you. To sum it up, I hope others are having better luck with it than I did.


The machine that I installed on is a Dell Latitude D630. That is a Core 2 Duo 2.10GHz, 2G RAM, 80G HDD, Integrated Intel video and Intel 3945ABG wireless adapter. It is pretty standard hardware as far as I’m concerned–the intel hardware is all supported just fine.


I installed using the alpha 5 alternate installer (text based). I used LVM + encryption for my partitioning and otherwise used all default settings, but my problems started before the installer was even finished. Actually, I don’t know if I can accurately say that because the installer never actually did finish. It got to the point of adding the user(s) and then hung. I finally decided to reboot the machine and see what state it was in.. maybe it could be salvaged. Luckily it seemed to be in working bootable order. at least at first glance..

Some of you may remember that I’m a dvorak user. Most of the time this doesn’t cause any problems as I’m the only user on my machine and I can configure the keyboard anyway I’d like. There are those few exceptions however where it ends up causing issues. This was one of them.

When I tried logging into my new installation I noticed the keyboard settings weren’t in place. It was still trying to use qwerty, even though I had used dvorak throughout the installation. I tried setting it manually, which worked during my session, but didn’t persist. I even tried reinstalling the console-setup package to alter the system-wide keyboard. That didn’t seem to take effect either.

I noticed some other oddities as well, most of them linked back to the keyboard layout issue.


On the positive side I was very impressed with the improved boot time and splash screen. I didn’t time the boot, but I want to say the speed was improved. The graphics were also a bit cleaned up. Ohh, and the horrible GDM graphic from 9.04 was gone as well!

I was also glad to see that ext4 is the new default filesystem. I’ve been running ext4 since it become “stable” and I’ve had no problems with it at all. It is *much* faster than ext3 as well as most of the other common file systems.

The addition of GRUB2 will be very interesting I’m sure. I didn’t get to play with it much, but I’m glad to see that is finally being used. I understand there are a lot of technical improvements in GRUB2 vs the traditional “legacy” GRUB.

I also noticed that some of the issues I’ve had in the past with Intel video were gone. This is due to the replacement of EXA with UXA. For any of you Intel users, this is a big one to be excited about, particularly if you have issues currently on Ubuntu 9.04.


In conclusion I think there are going to be a lot of very noticeable improvements in Ubuntu 9.10 and I’ll be happy to use it. Based on my keyboard issues however it will be hard for me to use at this point. I’ve gone back to Ubuntu 9.04 for the meantime. Perhaps I’ll try it again when it hits Beta.

What regressions or improvements have you found with Ubuntu 9.10 releases? Are you excited to see it coming or are you going to be reluctant to upgrade? I’d really like to hear that other people are having better luck than I did. Chances are, considering my problems were dvorak related, you probably did.

5 thoughts on “Ubuntu 9.10 “Karmic Koala” Alpha 5 Reviewed

  1. Lane

    I'm running Karmic 5 now and will probably stick with it. The graphic install went OK, except that grub2 failed to pick up the other partitions with OSes on them. I discovered grub2 has no menu.lst, which was kind of scary, so I used another partition to set up plain-vanilla grub in the MBR with Karmic 5 in the list. A quick look at grub2 looked too complicated to fool with now. Maybe later.

    Then X wouldn't start. It seems that Karmic 5 saw that I had an nVidia chipset on my motherboard and wrote xorg.conf with the nvidia driver specified. Unfortunately, it failed to install the driver. I had to use a plain vanilla xorg.conf to get X going, and then I installed the nvidia driver to get full graphic capability.

    The Workspace Switcher is broken in that you get two workspaces, but the Preferences is stuck at 0 columns, 0 rows.

    But otherwise, things seem OK. I haven't tried any new things such as iBus or Computer Janitor.

  2. GregE

    I tried to install Kubuntu 9.10 AMD64 Alpha 5 on my system and it failed miserably, so i did a minimal 9.04 and then dist-upgrade and with a bit of work I now have a stable working KDE 4.3. The upgrade did not go smoothly and had to be restarted a few times. It is not ready yet, I had to resort to the command line quite a bit. At the moment I am happy with it and it is working fine. The HPLIP printer/scanner installer will not work so I resorted to the text version which works OK. My own Python written Plasmoid will not function, but every thing else Python seems working. Nvidia driver is functional and all my peripherals work.

    You can make a working system, but it is not for the feint of heart. The first betas cannot be far off.

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