The Alpha-3 version of Jaunty became available two days past the scheduled release date. It included the kernel 188.8.131.52. It’s the first (alpha) release to include a kernel that supports EXT4 filesystem. The EXT4 became officially available in Dec 2008, and in less than a month it was incorporated into the 2.6.28 kernel.
There are several sites which post the performance benchmarks for EXT4 compared with other filesystems.
EXt4 is supposed to be much faster than existing filesystems. Several people have reported a booting time between 21 and 25 seconds, which is the time taken from bootloader selection till the login screen appears.
But beyond fast loading the alpha leaves a lot of room for improvement. Its integration with the /home/user partition is pretty buggy. One of the least stable module appears to be the alsamixer. The interface of volume applet has been changed significantly and is actually a lot less intuitive and quite inefficient.
Screenshot of volume control applet
As you see, the controller has a horizontal slider instead of the conventional vertical slider. More interestingly, double clicking on the volume control icon doesn’t open up the mixer like it used to. I’ve yet to figure out the workings of this applet.
Perhaps I might have figured out its usage, but I can’t vouch for the accuracy. One way to do it is:
Volume control applet (right click) >> Preferences >> HDA xxxx (Alsa Mixer) >> Select the device you want to control >> Close
Screenshot of volume control prefernces
I was able to change the line-in volume for use with a TV tuner card by the procedure I described above.
However the alsa module is very unstable in its present state. It causes one or more applications to crash at random. Most crashes were encountered when playing some form of flash media. Skype fails to load altogether. As soon as the login information is entered, the program coredumps with the following errors:
ALSA lib ../../src/conf.c:2700:(snd_config_hooks_call) Cannot open shared library libasound_module_conf_pulse.so
ALSA lib ../../../src/control/control.c:909:(snd_ctl_open_noupdate) Invalid CTL hw:0
Aborted (core dumped)
The video drivers for nvidia cards have yet to be released. Searching for Hardware Drivers yields a blank window. The drivers nvidia-glx-17x and nvidia-glx-96 are present in the repositories but the installation messes up the X and gdm loading. The only way to get back to X, is to remove the nvidia drivers and install ubuntu-desktop along with xorg. Once its done, typing
gets you back into GDM.
On wireless side, ath5k is not included in the default distribution and it is still quite a bit of hassle to obtain it from backports and blacklisting the ath_pci modules *.
All in all, there is a lot that needs to be done w.r.t. Ubuntu 9.04 before it is released as a beta and then finally as an official release in April. It would be nice to try out a fresh install including a brand new /home directory.
ETA: * The Alpha 4 release of Ubuntu and Kubuntu contained ath5k, even in the LiveCD, thus the part about Ubuntu (jaunty) not having support for Atheros cards out of the box is no longer valid. I haven’t heard other testers say anything since Alpha 4 came out, so I guess it must be working for quite a number of folks. Still no support for the ATI graphics card though.