Saturday Aug 18, 2012

Ubuntu 12.04 and NetBeans IDE

Between yesterday and today I switched from Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) to Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) to Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin). For some reason I couldn't switch directly from 11.04 to 12.04, at least, I couldn't find 12.04 in the update manager of 11.04. Only once I was on 11.10 did I find 12.04 in the update manager and then, with a feeling of 'oh well, since I'm upgrading anyway, I might as well go all the way', I started the next update process shortly after finishing the first.

The one and only reason for doing so (I was generally happy with 11.04) was that Ubuntu had become increasingly sluggish. My assumption was that by upgrading I wouldn't only be gaining from the inevitable performance enhancements that new releases of any product provide, but that in the process of upgrading many corrupted files would magically be removed or fixed.

I committed the absolute cardinal sin of not backing up my disk prior to starting the upgrade process. I did so knowing that anything of importance on my disk had already been backed up to "the cloud" (e.g., repos on, incrementally, over time, and that if my disk were to get wiped out I'd be secretly happy to be rid of billions of pointless pics and documents that I'm too lazy to clean up myself. But, as luck, I guess, would have it, my entire disk with all its content remained intact through both processes.

And, after switching to Nimbus, and fiddling with the themes a bit (I installed an app called Unsettings, which turned out to be handy), NetBeans IDE looks good too. Click the image below to see NetBeans IDE fully:

Plus, via the NetBeans Ayatana plugin, I've suddenly begun to really appreciate the real estate savings thanks to integration of NetBeans IDE with the Unity menu bar:

I've browsed a little bit on-line to see what the enhancements are in 12.04. The first thing I noticed is that the Unity sidebar thing doesn't switch on/off back/forward weirdly and unexpectedly anymore, i.e., it is 100% fixed all the time, which (despite the loss of real estate) I am already happy about. This change results in a much quieter work environment, i.e., the restless on and off switching was, now that I think back to it with the fixed sidebar in the corner of my eye, quite distracting, even though I didn't realize it at the time.

I also read somewhere that dual monitor support is enhanced, which is great, maybe I'll be able to use Ubuntu again for presentations (at some stage the dual monitor thing stopped working and that was the only reason I switched to Windows, i.e., I couldn't do presentations anymore).

Aside from that, I've read that stability and performance are improved, which surely can't be a bad thing either. What I liked, too, is that I didn't need to reconfigure my wireless setup, which is what I had to do a few upgrades ago, i.e., several settings had been wiped out in the upgrade process. In contrast, so far, everything I've had before is exactly as it was before and the whole process has been seamless.

And, guess what, my laptop doesn't sound like a plane about to take off anymore. Maybe the biggest plus so far. Good job, Ubuntu!


Geertjan Wielenga (@geertjanw) is a Principal Product Manager in the Oracle Developer Tools group living & working in Amsterdam. He is a Java technology enthusiast, evangelist, trainer, speaker, and writer. He blogs here daily.

The focus of this blog is mostly on NetBeans (a development tool primarily for Java programmers), with an occasional reference to NetBeans, and sometimes diverging to topics relating to NetBeans. And then there are days when NetBeans is mentioned, just for a change.


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