Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet review - Pretty tight


Updated: May 2, 2015

Let me begin by saying, what the hell is a vervet? Now, imagine the priest from The Princess Bride narrating the name of the latest Ubuntu release. Wiwid Welwet. Yes, and so we begin the spring season, and it's business time, and we've got Ubuntu 15.04 as the first contestant.

My test platform will be Lenovo G50, which already hosts Windows 8 & 10, plus Trusty, plus Netrunner Prometheus, and Linux Mint Rebecca KDE, at the moment. All done in a setup that includes UEFI, Secure Boot, GPT, and such. We've seen some hardware related issues, especially with the Wireless connectivity, so it shall definitely be interesting. Follow me.

Teaser

Live session

There were no problems booting the distro, even without any hacks in the UEFI menu. Works just fine, and the dreaded limitations are not there. This is in line with what we achieved with Trusty on my Asus ultrabook, and is in line with what we have on this Lenovo box.

The distro feels fast, I must admit that. It runs smoothly, crisply, sharply, whichever word you prefer. It looks decent, and even though it's a tiny improvement over the previous build, it works. Now, this is a different box, but the graphics card slash screenshot issues I've seen with Utopic on a now decommissioned T61 laptop are not present here. This is a good thing. We have some progress here.

Live desktop

Wireless strikes again!

Indeed, half an hour into my session, the connection dropped! Died. This confirms what I've encountered when testing Plasma 5.3 on top of a daily Kubuntu Vivid build, and this means the crap related to RTL8723BE is back. It affected kernel 3.13 in Trusty, worked absolutely fine in 3.16, and now we have a new regression in 3.19, which smells like a shepherd's sock after a long day at the pasture.

Luckily, the exact same fix I used in my tutorial works here. Create a blacklist file for the module, add some options in there, reboot, and enjoy a decent Wireless performance. Placing the G50 machine about half a meter from my router, it can now consistently utilize about 50% of my line, which is not bad. But these kind of things ought not to happen.

Wireless speed

Other stuff

Samba worked fine, Bluetooth, too. Not much fun, as Ubuntu isn't meant to be any fun until after you've installed it and grabeth all them fine codecs for your sweet ass music and videos that you've legally purchased on the Internets. Apart from that, you may want to glimpse at the screenshot of the file manager right now, as it's been polished a bit visually. More flat in design. Decent.

File manager

Installation

This may be of interest. The 1TB disk comes with a total of eleven partitions, half of which are used by the factory set Windows, a test copy of Windows 10 Tech Preview, and our three distros, with some free space to spare. There were no problems.

Partitions

Slide 1

Slide 2

If you expected any kind of troubles, then UEFI/GPT poses no problem for Ubuntu. The installation is identical to pretty much every other one you've done in the past. Well, there's one small difference. Regardless of where you install the bootloader, it will take control of the boot sequence, because of how EFI works. You can later on boot into the one distro you want to use, and restore its bootloader. Not a biggie, but it's annoying.

Black Vervet

OMG, that's such a rad song reference. Did YOU get it? Now, using Vivid. The distro works fine. With the proper Wireless fix in place, you will be enjoying yourselves. There were no woes, no hiccups, no bugs, visual, kernely or any other.

Desktop

Updates

The system pulls updates right from the start, and it happens within seconds of logging into the session. This gives a sense of speed, haste, urgency and professionalism, and it's a good thing, since it prompts new users to update their distribution and fix outstanding, last-minute issues. This is quite important especially shortly after the distro has been released, as there always a bunch of initial problems to solve. However, apart from the Realtek nonsense, I am pleased to say that Ubuntu 15.04 was fast and stable throughout. There was none of that rough start that usually plagues various Linux spins in their first few weeks.

Updates

Applications

The default set remains stubbornly identical, boring, predicable, and sanely functional, covering the biggest and yet the smallest collection of tools that ordinary people might want to use. Firefox, Thunderbird, Rhythmbox, Cheese, LibreOffice. That's about it, and then you can get a whole lot more from the repos using the Ubuntu Software Center. Tiny polishes are also visible on this front, with programs looking that much better and more mature than before.

Apps

Apps, more

Multimedia

No problems. I tried Flash, MP3 and HD video (WebM). The last one opened in Videos instead of a browser, which was what would usually happen in the past. Then, when I tried to play music, the song launched in video, but the software interface retained the image of the actual WebM file from earlier. This must be a bug. Trying the second time with Rhythmbox, and things were just fine.

Video, HD

Music, MP3

Flash

Resource usage

Once again, it's difficult to compare to older hardware, like the T61 machine. But we sure can compare what we saw with Trusty on G50. Memory usage is about 600 MB. CPU usage hovers around 1-2% on average, on idle, and the responsiveness is very good, even though we only have an i3 processor and a regular, mechanical disk. You will only notice a small degradation in performance during sustained operations, and new programs may take an extra second to load into memory. But other than that, it's perfectly suitable for most computing tasks.

Resources

In comparison, Trusty achieved much better results, in terms of memory, at only about 500 MB, so we have about a 20% increase. Netrunner was even hungrier, at 900 MB. Mint, also equipped with KDE, came in at around 900 MB, too. At least, there's some consistency there, but I'm not sure about Unity.

Other changes and improvements

Dash is slowly becoming useful. Online searches begin to make sense, although I'd expect more good stuff, but for a change, you don't just get random stuff. Some of the offered items are worthy of consideration and maybe even purchase.

Dash scopes

Dash searches becoming relevant

The default collection of wallpapers is also really nice:

Nice desktop

Printing

This one really surprised me. Launching the applet, my first reaction was WTF, why is there no Samba option. Then, I tried to search the network, and Voila! Within seconds, my printer was detected and offered, much quicker than ever before. Nice.

New printer utility

New printer tool works great

Conclusion

Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet is a solid, stable release for what is essentially a test bed in between LTS editions. But it works well, except the one Wireless regression bug, which, let's face it, could be critical to many people. However, if you get it resolved, you will enjoy a seamless experience.

There isn't much to be excited, but the baseline is perfect for building confidence, and slowly growing your application arsenal, and your experience. Hardware compatibility is almost perfect, and Ubuntu cooperates majestically with fancy technologies like UEFI and Secure Boot, which are a major concern in the Linux world. Thus, this should give you some peace of mind. All in all, 9.5/10, and we shall see how the rest of the family behaves, very soon. Stay tight, and see you around.

Cheers.

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