03 May 2010
Here’s what I think…
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS
I’ve been running the release candidate (RC) for a week now, so I’ve been able to put this version through its paces, and believe that I’m now in the position to fairly evaluate this release. Through my years of using Linux, I have gone from being hardcore Linux advocate to a more pragmatic view. I know the strong points as well as the shortcomings of the OS and I also know that as much as I would encourage people to use it, it still isn’t for everybody. Having said that though, I can confidently say that this new release comes pretty close to achieving that. In addition to this, it’s an LTS release so stability and security are primary motivations.
It’s free… I have to say this before anything else. Too many people complain about this and that bug, or the look and feel isn’t right. It seems the better the Linux desktop becomes, the more criticisms are aimed at it. Let’s not forget people, this software is completely free (as in beer). It’s not gonna cost you anything to try it.
Polish, polish, and more polish… The desktop is stunning! You can clearly see that a lot of effort went into design as much as coding. Of course, not everyone is entirely happy with a lot of the design choices the Ubuntu made, but I think the majority of long time users would agree that this is probably the sweetest looking Ubuntu release ever. They dropped the orange/brown motif and went for a darker shade of gray (and a lot of purple by default).
Here are some screenshots of my desktop (click to zoom in)
Integration… Linux is primarily a result of independent efforts from different developers. As a consequence of this, it has always lacked the tight integration that Windows and especially the Mac OS had. Each new release has brought the Ubuntu UI closer to near perfect integration. This time around, they’ve really gone leaps and bounds towards this goal. Everything just works together.
This is particularly true for social networks and chat. The notification system works with all the default programs and works with almost all major chat (YM, GChat, Live Messenger, and Facebook) and social network services (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and others ). It also has a file sync service called UbuntuOne that syncs all your bookmarks, contacts files, music, and chat logs (Similar to Dropbox but with very tight integration to the desktop).
Flash Finally… This varies from different configurations, but I’ve always found it a bit clunky. This is the first version to actually integrate Flash flawlessly (Hulu Desktop!). Also, with the new and improved interface for the Ubuntu Software Center, it’s very easy to install Flash (as well as the thousands of free software in the Ubuntu repositories).
Fast boot… I have yet to time my boot-up, but it’s quite impressive. I’m not sure how they manged it but it’s blazing fast to get to the log-in screen.
- Minimize, Maximize, and Close Buttons… I’m not a big fan of buttons on the left-hand-side of the title bar. I could easily change it of course, but it would have been great if they gave novice users an easy way to switch the layout back.
- Multiple Monitors… If you use a laptop most of the time and use an external screen once in a while, Ubuntu has this irritating behavior of messing up the order of your panel icons. Kudos to the Windows bar for its flexibility in multiple monitor setups.
- No more chat pop-ups… Chats are shown as notifications instead of pop-ups (you then have to click on the panel to open up the message). I know, this is probably a good thing in terms of productivity because you don’t get distracted all the time. Still, if you leave your desktop for a while, and a message comes in, you might miss it. Okay, so the message icon lights up to inform you, but sometimes you just have too many unread messages for it to make sense anymore.
Ubuntu 10.04 is a clean, polished and well integrated desktop. It has reached the point where I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who has an open mind to try something new. Ubuntu is here to stay and I’m very excited to see what the Ubuntu community can achieve for the next LTS version. Whatever it is, I know it’s gonna be beyond any of my expectations.
Try it for yourself
- Ubuntu 10.04 Main LTS Features
- Linux Mag article about Ubuntu 10.04
- Download Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (The Lucid Lynx)