Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat: One Hit, One Miss

Ubuntu 10.10, aka “Maverick Meerkat” was released recently, and according to the Ubuntu home page, the perfect 10 is here.  For those not familiar with Ubuntu’s release cycle, this one is a short-term support release which will be patched and modified up until it eventually morphs into the next long term release about 18 months from now.  

I decided to test two of these new offerings a couple of days ago.  I installed the i386 Desktop version on my Dell Lattitude 6500, which has the Nvidia Quadro graphics chipset and the Intel WiFi Link 5100 wireless chipset, and I put the Netbook version on the Acer Aspire One, which is an N450 based netbook with the Intel N10 graphics chipset and an Atheros AR8132 wireless adaptor.

The Hit

The Desktop Edition installed quickly and without any hitches.  Everything came up working with no problems: wireless, display, sound, everything.  I installed the Nvidia proprietary graphics driver to check it, and it works well too. Everything was as I have come to expect from Canonical -- it just worked.

The Miss

The Acer netbook is another story.  First the good news.  The install from the USB flash drive went quickly and seemed to go flawlessly.  The new layout for the Netbook Edition is simple, yet effective.  The background image is of course van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone.

Some more good news: after installing Google’s Chrome browser I went over to Hulu.com* to see how flash and the Intel graphics driver worked.  After watching a bit of The Simpsons, it seemed to me that streaming flash content was a bit smoother than it had been under 10.04 UNE.  However, this is just a subjective impression.

Now the bad news.

The wireless driver drops its connection more often than spuds in a hot potato juggling contest. When the Acer was sitting on my desk about 3 feet away from the wireless router it managed to stay connected, but when I moved approximately 20 feet away it began to demonstrate packet losses in excess of 50%, even though the wireless icon still showed a signal strength of 84%.

The wireless is basically unusable.


In the past when I’ve experienced this type of behavior with the Atheros driver in previous versions of (K)Ubuntu, installing the linux-backports-modules always fixed the problem, but such is not the case with Meerkat. Unfortunately, until a fix for this comes out, this netbook is basically usable primarily as a paperweight with Ubuntu 10.10.  I find it disappointing, because I really like the look and feel of this new Netbook Edition, and I wanted it to work.  It is also a bit irritating, because this very same problem existed as recently as UNE 10.04.  I sometimes marvel at our ability to continue to make the same mistakes in this Linux distro business.

In spite of having a netbook that was useless when located more than 20 feet from the wireless router, I poked around a bit more and found one other rough edge that needs to be taken care of by our friends at Canonical.  The Files and Folders icon (third from the bottom in the above picture) invokes a file browser, which I presume is still the default Nautilus application.

Clicking the F & F icon causes an applet to display your file system using icon representations. So far, so good.  Double click a folder icon and it opens.  Still copacetic .  Find a file that you would like to delete.  Yep, got one. Wait...  How you you delete a file?  Right clicking on the file icon has no effect, except for causing it to become inverse highlighted as long as the right mouse button is down.  No submenu of file operations ever appears.  Oopsie.  No way to change the browser view mode from “Icon” to “List”.  ‘Nother oopsie.

Finally, this release is sloooow compared to 10.04.  I’ve been reading other reviews of UNE 10.10, and they all pretty much agree that this one is not completely baked yet.  Unless you have some compelling reason to change, you should stay with UNE 10.04 until this one cooks a bit more.

These flaws, IMO, should probably have been caught in beta or RC before finding themselves in the actual release.  It will be interesting to see how long it will take to get fixes. Oh, and as far as the “Perfect 10” claim goes -- I suppose you could say that I have a “Perfect 10” paperweight shaped remarkably like a netbook.


*Hulu.com content is only viewable from within the United States of America



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Not impressed with Wireless

David Lane's picture

I have to say I have not been overly impressed with my ACER/Ubutu wireless either and I am running version 9. I thought it was my router for the longest time until I hooked up my Fedora system. Drops and disconnects on Ubuntu but no issues with Fedora. Of course, the hardware is also a player...I guess I won't be upgrading any time soon...maybe I should try Fedora on my netbook.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack

Atheros isn't the only wireless with issues under 10.10

Argusvision's picture

I recently installed 10.10 on an Acer 5420 laptop with a broadcom 4311 card. I've had problems with this model card on versions prior to 9.04 but not since. The STA driver normally worked great on this card until 10.10. It looks like I'm about to roll back to 10.04. I know that's kind of a non-answer but, the user needs to get wireless up soon. (She's college student with online classes.)

Funny how it works...

David Riley's picture

It is funny how for some people the upgrade was as smooth as could be, and for others it's been a nightmare. I too have an Atheros chipset, I forgot which one exactly, but it uses the Ath5k driver, and that's one thing I never had a problem with.

But back to the subject of the bug reporting, the thing that I find really frustrating is the fact that it's really hard to just make a general bug report. If you select the "Other" option it just tells you to include the applications name and then exits! I don't know what the hell is causing the problem, I'm an applications developer, not a kernel hacker. I also noticed that there aren't a whole ton of bugs on Launchpad, which leads me to believe that it's a problem for everyone. Ubuntu is a good OS don't get me wrong, but I've NEVER seen a large project with that few bugs.

Lspci output

Kenny Strawn's picture

kenny_strawn@kenny-AOA110:~$ lspci | grep Wireless
03:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR5001 Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)

Apparently I also have an Atheros adapter, and haven't had one problem with the wireless using the Desktop edition on the Acer netbook. This indicates that it's definitely a problem with the Atheros driver and Unity.

History repeats itself.

shankara's picture

Ubuntu 10.10 " Perfect ten" received a mixed reaction. Those, who judge any open source Operation system as soon it releases ( or within 1 months of its release), are either fan boys of that operating system or haters of that particular O.S( Both are bad for the open source community).

It's always the same with

josvazg's picture

It's always the same with Canonical and its Ubuntu Releases, and this time is not worse but also not better than when they released 10.04LTS or the previous ones (LTS or not)

My policy now is NOT to install or upgrade anything at least on the first month of release. I will wait for this one to cook, and I will NOT upgrade servers, those will stay in LTS releases only. I will upgrade to "10.12" or "11.01" if you know what I mean.

It's sad that they still have problems with wireless chipsets, specially to have regressions on chipsets that worked previously. Canonical should be more careful with that if they want to enter any market apart from the geek's market. We (geeks) can handle those messes in payment for the price tag or the flexibility, but normal users will not put up to crap. For them things either work (out of the box) or ARE JUST PLAIN BROKEN, Period.

(K)ubuntu-and-wifi hell

paai's picture

I have a medion with a rt61 on which wifi worked flawlessly untill Kubuntu 9.04. Then it broke and has remained broken in all later versions. The remedy was to install Opensuse on that machine, but I miss apt-get and I /hate/ RPMs.

Point is: a laptop or netbook is essentially worthless without wifi. OK, I can imagine how a new distribution forgets to fix drivers for some wifi chip or another, but after the bug is brought to the attention of the distributors, there is no reason not to correct it.

Flawless on older Acer Aspire Ones, especially mine

Kenny Strawn's picture

I have an Acer Aspire One from two years ago, an AOA110-1545. Let me tell you, unless the signal was bad, I have never disconnected once from the wireless, never. I don't know what your problem is with whatever AAO you tested, but I have tested 10.10 since the Pre-Alpha (by enabling the Maverick repositories manually), and it has worked flawlessly on it.

Different wireless chipset, I imagine

Doug.Roberts's picture

Mine is the Aspire One 532h-2223, manufactured January 2010.

Likewise under UNE 10.04 the wireless on mine behaved flawlessly, after the linux-backports-modules had been installed.


Yeah, in my case, it was the

Kenny Strawn's picture

Yeah, in my case, it was the Jaunty Jackalope that behaved the worst. I have no idea why, but I do know that it was very buggy. And I have had *PLENTY* of problems with the Unity interface (I just get a blank screen), so I use the desktop edition instead of the netbook edition.

That's what I think your problem is, too. It's probably the fact that Network Manager (nm-applet) doesn't perform well under Unity's version of Mutter on your system and possibly crashes often. I wouldn't be surprised.

Hardly empirical

Anonymous's picture

Because it does not work flawlessly on your netbook (netbook edition, no less), I don't think it should be titled the way that it is. Maybe try it on a few more machines before condemning or applauding it. How it performs on one person's netbook is hardly representative.


Colby's picture

Works great on my Acer netbook. The WiFi works better than 10.04. Sometimes the Unity UI has a burp, and dual monitors doesn't work like before, but other than that, it's great!

What wireless chipset do you have?

Doug.Roberts's picture

Colby, can you do "lspci" and post the results here?




David Riley's picture

I've only tested 10.10 on one computer, and I know one of the main issues with Linux has always been the issue of supporting the plethora of hardware available, most with no help from manufacturers, but I was quite disappointed with 10.10's performance on my box. Upgrading from 10.04, I was quite excited to upgrade as I just entered the world of Linux shortly after 10.04 was released and haven't really had the joy of seeing an operating system progress. The first thing I noticed was how much I didn't like the look of it. I don't know whether to blame the new GNOME or Ubuntu, but the default ambiance theme which was my favorite on Lucid looked terrible. The buttons were different, no more cherry, the fonts looked almost too sharp and it overall didn't look as good to these eyes. After digging deeper I found more problems like mouseover menu hints not rendering properly, some distorted, and all of them cut off before the end. My external drives for some reason were all listed twice on the Places menu. Worst of all, my computer would not go in to suspend or hibernate without crashing, a place where it spends most of its time, which ultimately was the enough is enough moment for me. I gathered up all of the information I could find, did some research, and finally reported all of the new bugs through Ubuntu's so easy it's a pain bug reporting system, and then shortly thereafter said screw it and went back to 10.04.

I think Cannonical dropped a turd with this one, trying to upgrade too much too soon. The reason I love Ubuntu is the fact that it features a lot of up to date applications unlike Debian stable, but doesn't feature as many suprises as Debian testing, but this new version just wasn't getting along with my computer. I may be newer to Linux, but I'm no spring chicken in the open source world, and once again I was shown that the latest isn't always the greatest, and sometimes it's best to wait for the kinks to get worked out before jumping in myself, atleast for projects I absolutly depend on...

Still, I applaud all of the developers for their hard work and dedication, and hope maybe the next one will get along with me a little better.

Ubuntu bug reporting process

Doug.Roberts's picture

I agree that Canonical's Ubuntu bug reporting process is a pain. My next article is about the effort that was necessary to report the Atheros bug mentioned in this article. In the upcoming article I also suggest that Canonical should spend some effort improving its regression testing process.


A hit for me

atlio's picture

i installed on a eeepc 1201n and it worked flawlessly. In fact this is the first ubuntu release i experience that is "just working". So i installed 10.10 on both my primary computers. So far no hickups or anything..

The netbook edition is slower

ju's picture

The netbook edition is slower than the 10.04 because Unity is still too young.

Here's Another Miss

Anonymous's picture

If you're using an Nvidia GeForce 8xxx series video card, you won't get anywhere with Kubuntu 10.10 (at least 64 bit that I know of). Immediately after booting up, right after the BIOS screen, the monitor goes to sleep and won't wake up. The system continues to run, but no monitor. I've tried with three different systems with the 8xxx video cards and no luck. With the 6xxx series cards, everything works fine. Oddly, from Alpha 1 through the RC, all was well. The fail occurred with the Final Release.

Nvidia problems

Anonymous's picture

I saw a post just yesterday where an upgrade blew away video - see http://linuxtrends.com/an-ubuntu-10-10-upgrade-double-whammy/ it may help.

I have upgraded two PCs - one intel based and went without a problem. The other had an old nvidia card and the restart left me with a command prompt! The nvidia driver for a mx440 ( a pretty old card as well) was incompatible with Xorg1.9! Big whoops! But using the nv driver has me up and running and waiting for the fix to come through.

NVidia 8500

Peter Hoeg's picture

I'm running 64 bit Kubuntu 10.10 on a machine with a 8500GT and it works fine. I'm using the nouveau drivers, so I obviously don't know if the situation is different with the nvidia drivers.

It will take some time

click's picture

It is normal for Canonical to rush things and fix later, not really a great developing style but I guess it works for them. Is this performance degradation valid for the desktop edition? Is there anything new(the release note is pretty short) and interesting? In general, does it worth upgrading?

Any Atheros wireless system will be affected

Doug.Roberts's picture

If you have an Atheros wireless chipset your system will be affected, regardless of whether you are running UNE or the Desktop Edition.

RE: is it worth the upgrade, the only major improvement that affected me was that Pulseaudio now works right out of the box.


I'm using 10.10 with Atheros

Kristaps's picture

I'm using 10.10 with Atheros wireless chipset - AR2425. I had the same problem this year in 10.04.
After googling about two weeks I found the "feature" implemented by ath5k driver manufacturer - the Hardware encryption is enabled by default.
I turned it off using nohwcrypt parameter in /etc/modprobe.d/custom-wireless.conf

Works fine for me. :) Also in LinuxMint 10... ;)

It will take more than a six

Anonymous's picture

It will take more than a six months for the next LTS release, as the last LTS was 10.04, 8.04 being still supported. 12.04 will be the next one.