Just popped in to say a huge Thank You to the Ubuntu team. I've just returned having last used it in Hardy days, since when I've been using a mixture of OSX and Arch. First new impressions: honestly I'm shocked by what a polished, sensible and effective distro this is.
For what it's worth, what brought me back was a forthcoming journey for which I needed a light, small computer that could break without causing too much pain. I picked up an old Aspire One D260 which fitted the bill nicely for my budget. As I shall be doing voluntary work in a politically sensitive part of the world I figured it would be a good excuse to try to build a Prism-free rig (so no Google, Microsoft, Apple etc.), and as I would not have time to fix things on the fly I needed something solid. Ubuntu was the obvious choice.
The first thing I noticed was that it was quite slow, so I stuck in some extra memory and replaced the standard distro with Lubuntu. This rocked but I missed some regular Ubuntu features. Switching back to the vanilla version I realsied that while I couldn't match Lubuntu's speed I could get close enough for my needs by:
1. Using the Unity tweak tool to turn off some graphical and search related goodies;
2. removing Swap and installing Zram instead;
3. choosing lightweight alternative applications.
Try it - along with the memory upgrade you may find this breathes new life into an old machine.
It was fast enough whist still giving me a rich desktop environment with, most importantly for me, Unity. I know this technology has proved devisive in the community but once I got used to it it just made so much sense - particularly on this netbook where real estate is a mere 10". I can see the strategic value too, and can't wait to try Unity on my mobile phone, tablet and desktop one day.
So again: thank you thank you Ubuntu Team. This is a polished distro - in my opinion more beautiful, efficient, usable and liberating than Windows or OSX now - and the direction it is heading in is insightful, clever, full of promise. I admit to feeling politically uncomfortable with some of Canonical's decisions but there can be no doubt that the fruits of its labour are sweet indeed.