Another Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Review [Updated]

I know there are quite a few reviews of the very-soon-to-be-released version of Ubuntu called Karmic Koala or 9.10, but I wanted to share my impressions too. Another can’t do any harm can it?

I’ve had the Karmic development release running since Alpha 2. I started with it because it supported some newer hardware on the Asus 1008HA netbook and that machine is not as critical as my desktop is for work so I could afford for it to go wrong occasionally. Although it has been only very occasionally.

The first thing is to say how much it has changed, for the better, from Alpha 2 to where we are now – less than 2 weeks before release. There were the very obvious cosmetic changes, new applications and changes underneath such as to the boot up process. It’s fascinating to watch and quite a nice surprise when you do your daily, or sometime less frequent, updates to see things change and develop so rapidly. Having a 150MB update day was not uncommon. I reported a few bugs along the way and hopefully have helped to improve the end result that will be available for anyone to download for free on the 29th October.

My Karmic Desktop

My Karmic Desktop

Sometimes I feel that I take Ubuntu and other FOSS for granted, but then wake up and slap myself around the face. It’s bloody amazing. Anyone, anywhere, can download this or many other complete PC operating systems. These are modern, reliable, secure and FUN to use; and come with application software too. On the 22nd October another PC operating system becomes available that is NONE of those things and you have to pay for it! I’d like to thank and applaud everyone who has touched Ubuntu or any other Free and Open Source software in however a humble way it may be. We are all bloody amazing frankly.

Back to Karmic then. Having been using it on-and-off for a couple of months now my overall impression is Very Polished indeed. It looks the dogs bollocks compared to previous releases, the subtle changes to the Human Theme and colour scheme are really good. The new icon set looks very modern and the system boots a bit quicker and shuts down in a flash! It is quicker on my netbook to shut it down and reboot than to use hibernate. Which is actually a good thing as the suspend/hibernate doesn’t work too well on this netbook currently.[UPDATE] I was just discussing Karmic with some of the peeps on the #ubuntu-uk IRC channel and I tested suspend and hibernate again. This time they both worked. It still seems to take a bit longer for hibernate to resume than a clean boot but there’s not much in it.[END UPDATE]

Ubuntu Software Centre

Ubuntu Software Centre

For the new stuff, there’s the Ubuntu Software Centre which is now spelled correctly for a UK English locale, there’s Empathy which I think I will get to like, Firefox is now the 3.5 release and is on 3.1 which means we have the Open GL Transitions back.

On Jaunty I have been using Gwibber 1 for some time and it’s a nice simple application that, for the most part works well and does its job. On Karmic, Gwibber has been updated to version 2 and I have to say that in my opinion version 2 of Gwibber is a complete regression. The UI is far to intrusive, and it all takes up much to much screen real estate.

The last five screenshots (below) are of Gwibber. The first one, is the “welcome screen” that I seem to be presented with every time it starts, whether I want it or not. I do not. In the second image I am trying to show the size of the font and the amount of wasted space per message. Even though there is an option to change the font size, that doesn’t work at the time of writing this. The third image is what happens when you want to reply to, or RT, a message; except the edit box is not immediately visible. You have to guess that it is under the drop down that has just appeared and then slide the area up; each and every time. The next shows the account navigation pane which I find to be rather pointless and it just gets in the way. And finally, Gwibber crashed whilst I was taking screenshots when I was trying to open a configuration dialogue box. I’ve filed a bug.

Other than Gwibber 2, which I feel is a real backward step, the rest of Karmic is really great. It looks brilliant and modern. It works smoothly and quickly. Some of the new features like the Ubuntu Software Centre, Empathy and Indicator Applet are really well thought through and add positively to the whole experience. It’s been reliable, my 3G dongle just worksTM, as did the speakers, microphone and webcam.

Here’s a selection of snapshots taken on my netbook to give you more of a flavour of what it looks like. The only change I’ve made from the the default is the desktop image, although this one is from the set that is supplied with Karmic Koala.

Karmic Koala is Brilliant. It is a major update to Ubuntu. The new look and feel is really great. I doubt it will be changing much more before release but as always I should probably add a YMMV here.

If you are using Jaunty or earlier on your desktop, I’d recommend that you give this release a try. If you are thinking about coughing up hard-earned money for that other operating system that is coming out this month, don’t. You’ll be wasting your cash and be getting a less secure, less functional, more resource hungry and just plain worse OS to boot! And do remember I’m still using the Beta version of Ubuntu. The GA release will be out on the 29th Oct.

If you can’t wait you can download the beta from here. This beta won’t expire either 😉

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  • Paul says:


    As discussed on irc, have added a link from my website and a link from the ubuntu ukloco page for the south west.

  • Lumaga says:

    To remove that patent-trap-masquerading-as-free-software
    from my shiny new Ubuntu beta Karmic system, can i use:
    “sudo apt-get purge libmono0 mono-common libgdiplus”
    as in Jaunty?

    • Alan Lord says:

      @Lumaga, unfortunately no. There are a few slight changes to the removal process. I am documenting them now but will wait until the release before publishing in case anything alters between now and then.

      There isn’t a great deal of difference, which with a bit of digging I’m sure you can work out for yourself if you can’t wait.

  • Karmic is great, I’ve been so impressed with it on my Asus EEE PC 701. Even on a 7″ screen the redesigned Netbook Remix interface looks fantastic. I think the new Ubuntu Software Centre and the volume control will really help new users of Ubuntu as well. Exciting times!

  • Krzysztof Wilczynski says:

    Hello Alan,

    Great review! Thank you very much for sharing 🙂

    – KW

  • […] Another Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Review Karmic Koala is Brilliant. It is a major update to Ubuntu. The new look and feel is really great. I doubt it will be changing much more before release but as always I should probably add a YMMV here. […]

  • Ciarán says:

    I complete agree re Gwibber. I rather liked it on 9.04 and now think it’s dreadful: ugly and awkward. I do wonder what happened.

    That said, running Karmic on my dodgy old laptop is generally a dream: it’s a real achievement.

  • Dave Jeffery says:

    When I first downloaded the Karmic Beta I thought “it’ll never be ready in time” – it was still very rough. The boot sequence put masses of text everywhere, the notification area was broken and I even needed to use the command line to eject CDs. Within the space of a week and a half it became polished enough to be a release. An incredible amount of work has gone into making something rather special.

  • […] Twitter Feed « Another Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Review [Updated] […]

  • […] is a Operating System coming out soon. No not Microsoft Windows 7, better than that Ubuntu 9.10 The Karmic Koala! Let face it the name is far more […]

  • Martini Tims says:

    This wallpaper is awesome. Do you have a download link?

  • […] Lord: Another Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Review. Alan has a nice review of Ubuntu 9.10 with a lot of screenshots so you can get a better look at […]

  • […] the latest, shiniest, bestest, release of Ubuntu to date, and it really is a cracking release, the desktop version of Karmic Koala (version 9.10) contains two Mono dependent applications in the […]

  • Septimus says:

    I downloaded Linux 9.10 but where’s the sound preferences mate? I can’t customize my sounds and I’m wondering if I need to download a package or use terminal.

  • ej says:

    I am now using Karmic Koala… my first boot option… can’t remove windows because all the people in our house are windows lovers… now I’m making them use 9.10 since I find it cool… never had a problem with those virus crap thing with windows… the visuals are great… I added cairo and kubuntu desktop for better looks… for my IM i use aMSN… for the others… I use pigin… for email… I’m using thunderbird to migrate my gmail account… Don’t we just love free stuff… M$ asks for a lot of cachings for OS and Apps… MAC is just expensive… Ubuntu… will work with old PCs… keep it up ubuntu team… Great Job… You Rock! btw… we can still run M$ apps using wine… so why need windows…

  • kool says:

    It is true. With this Koala, Linux starts to be a bit credible and usable for average users. Still galaxies to go to become a real alternative but something is something. I read the opinions of Linux geeks and they are ridiculous. They love Linux too much and have absurdly positive opinions. To the eyes of a stranger, Linux looks horrible and it’s extremely difficult and buggy with horrible programs. That is the only truth. Koala looks a bit better to the eyes. Still like an ugly cheap communist country design still in the 70’s but it is a bit better with the Humanity theme compared to the rest of themes of any other distro or what you can find in Gnome-Art or the net. Horrible. As to its functioning… as long as the terminal is required and code is required for anything at all, Linux will reamain a nerd-geek-idiot operating system. Plus the Linux people and communities are just awful and unacceptable. Such a loser, offensive and negative world. Take care and get real. Linux is still crap. So much crap that even for free nobody uses it.

  • aflenah says:


    karmic koala is the best operating system.. In our university we are using ubuntu karmic koala and it is the great brilliant OS..

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