Ubuntu 11.04 – Natty Narwhale

After reading SJVN’s article about upcoming releases of Ubuntu, I thought I would take a closer look at the “enemy”, a new UI and non-X GNU/Linux. You see, I have been perfectly satisfied with GNU/Linux for the last ten years, warts and all. Making it appear as something totally different to the end-user is not something for which I thurst. My fear is that stuff will be changed for the sake of change rather than for better performance/reliability. I expect radical change will result in a radical decrease in reliability at least for a time.

I started by looking for a download. The wiki pointed me to a beta which does not exist, but I found an alpha, natty-desktop-i386.iso. I intend to install it in a virtual machine on my notebook just to see how it works. I know it has bugs but about a month before release, it should be working somewhat. Debian Squeeze was working if you could install it properly six months before its release…

No joy. The installation boot showed
Ubuntu 11.04
and showed some progress lights for a bit and then I got
Login timed out after 60seconds.
Welcome to Ubuntu Natty (development branch) (GNU/Linux 2.6.38-5-generic i686)

* Documentation https://help.ubuntu.com/

So, I was not impressed. I might try again when they get to beta-testing. I could find nothing current in their buglist.

UPDATE Tried again and reached a commandline. The .iso is a live CD apparently. It could not start gdm with the Cirrus chip faked by my virtual machine.

On the third try I used a generic vga video interface and got something that looked like a wallpaper but nothing on it. I had a bunch of popups saying something or other had died. Obviously others are able to run this thing but they must have hardware different from my emulators.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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10 Responses to Ubuntu 11.04 – Natty Narwhale

  1. I don’t know. I just hope Debian allows me to cling to X until I die… X may not be the best graphics but it is a very nice technology for remote displays. Unless something better comes along, I don’t want to give it up. I have used VNC a bit and prefer X because it is faster and works better on older hardware. Some of the really old hardware struggles with X over SSH but plain X works well on ancient stuff as long as it has 100 mbits/s networking.

  2. Mats says:

    Is Linux Mint following Canonical with that non-X?

  3. I know. It’s scary what some developers like…

    I have given up on Ubuntu 11.04. I cannot get it to run properly in a virtual machine. If I had some diagnostics I might be able to figure it out but there’s nothing but a timeout message. It did run at command line a bit but I cannot reproduce it. I might fire up VirtualBox again.

  4. nightgoblin says:

    If this post was about how Ubuntu’s Unity looks and “feels”, then take a look at the new GNOME 3 Hell, for example, it’s way worse than Unity (and I don’t even like Unity).

  5. nightgoblin says:

    Ubuntu is NOT the enemy, with quotes or without!
    Yes, some Canonical’s decisions are questionable, yes, Ubuntu is too “bloated” and somewhat dumbed down by the default, yes, they focus too much on eyecandy, yes, they use hype instead of true features to advertise, but they are the most successful Linux distro to this date, so they must do at least something right.
    If you disagree with (K/X)Ubuntu community and Canonical over default features you can always install from alternative text-based installation CD.
    In fact, I always do this for users new to GNU/Linux so I can install only core GNOME and build from that as needed (this way there’s no need to remove various unused stuff post install like Evolution and that Mono garbage).
    Even if you don’t like Ubuntu, think of it this way: it is a tool to spread Debian.

  6. oldman says:

    11.04 x86-64 current build is going through a graphical install as I write this. All seems well now, but I’ve seen too many Linux installs that crap out on reboot. Fortunately this one didntdie and I’m in the full graphical version. I’ll put it through its paces this evening, butr I suggest that you might want to suspend judgement untill you get it running fully.

  7. Sarcastic, I suppose. I don’t see anything I want coming from these changes in direction by Ubuntu. I hope Debian GNU/Linux can stick with what works for a while. I have no problem with experimentation but I do object to making a release, mainstream, for the public, that way.

    I used Ubuntu for the school at Easterville. I am thinking of recommending to them that they look to migrate to GNU/Linux.

  8. Dann says:

    “I have been perfectly satisfied with GNU/Linux for the last ten years, warts and all”

    Was that a Warty Warthog reference? 😉

    “The wiki pointed me to a beta which does not exist, but I found an alpha, natty-desktop-i386.iso. ”

    I think you mean pointed you to an alpha which didn’t exist.
    I had that too, downloaded the alpha 3 for 11.04.
    It pointed me to the Alpha1 folder, which didn’t exist. I removed the alpha_1/ html address section and got a directory structure which listed alpha 3.

    Haven’t tried it yet. Might install it on a test machine.

  9. oldman says:

    The daily build for 11.04 is at


    I am downloading the iso as I type this and will give it a whirl on VMWare workstation. Pog, Ubuntu is not made for hard core *nix users like yourself. However the nature of the community being what it is, you will always be able to use what you have now.

  10. Mike Hunt says:

    Are you being sarcastic or are you looking at Canonical and Ubuntu as “the enemy”?

    Just curious.

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