Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS

Ubuntu 14.04 was released recently and as usual the other flavors of Ubuntu have also been updated to 14.04 including Ubuntu GNOME. Ubuntu GNOME tends to get overlooked a bit, given all the attention that goes to the main Ubuntu release. However, that’s a shame since it has quite a lot to offer anyone who prefers the GNOME interface to that of Unity.

Please note that Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is a long term support release. Such releases tend to focus on polish and stability rather than introducing loads of new features. So bear that in mind if you are looking for a desktop distribution that will be supported for a longer term.

If you aren’t familiar with Ubuntu GNOME, you may want to browse the FAQ about it on the Ubuntu GNOME site. There’s some helpful background information there that might be of interest to you. Wikipedia and DistroWatch also have information pages about Ubuntu GNOME.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Features
Here’s a sample of the features in this release:

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 is now an LTS (Long Term Support) release. This is our first LTS Release supported for 3 years.

Most of GNOME 3.10 is now included. See the GNOME release notes for more details. The few missing bits of 3.10 are available in ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3. gnome-weather, gnome-maps, gnome-photos and gnome-music are all available to install from the archives.

With GNOME 3.10 comes enhanced support for online accounts, and some general optimization of the user interface.

A set of 10 new high-quality wallpapers are included. For more details, see Ubuntu GNOME Wallpaper Contest.

GNOME Classic session is included. To try it, choose it from the Sessions option on the login screen.

More at Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Release Notes

The fact that this is a long term support release will please many current Ubuntu GNOME users since it means that they can rely on it for quite a long time before needing to move to a newer version. Plus, as I noted above, such releases generally zero in on stability rather than loads of flashy, new features.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Desktop

GNOME 3.10 also adds some zip to Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, particularly with its support of online accounts and user interface improvements. You may also like some of the ten new wallpapers that have been included with this release, some of them are quite beautiful.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

And of course GNOME Classic is also an option for those who dislike GNOME 3. I’m very glad to see GNOME Classic included, it’s great for people to have options. I’ve pretty much made my peace with GNOME 3, however. If you take the time to get used to it and you take it as it is rather than comparing it to other desktop interfaces, you may find it to be quite useful in its own way.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS GNOME Classic Desktop

The GNOME Classic desktop in Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Download and Install
You can download Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS from this page. Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 32-bit version for this review.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is also a live distribution, so you can run it off a disc before actually installing it on your system. The install itself is quite simple and easy, and it takes about the same amount of time as installing regular Ubuntu (fifteen to twenty minutes at most).

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Install

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Install

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Image Viewer
Print Preview
Document Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy IM
Evolution Mail and Calendar
Firefox
Transmission BitTorrent Client
Desktop Sharing
Ubufox Extension for Firefox

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
GStreamer Plugins
Rhythmbox Music Player
Videos

Office
LibreOffice Calc, Impress, Math and Writer

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Software Center

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Software Center

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or post in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out these Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS resources:

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 Release Announcement
Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 Release Notes
Ubuntu GNOME Documentation
Contact Ubuntu GNOME

Please note the following known issues from the release notes:

System Details shows Ubuntu 13.10 instead of 14.04 (1299912)
screen giberish (1307776)
Can’t select which drive to resize when using “install alongside” in Trusty (1262824)

More at the Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
I know that some might be disappointed that this release of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 isn’t chock-full of mind-blowing features. But that is perfectly fine in a long term support release like this. The absolute last thing we want developers doing is sticking in experimental doodads or other things that could adversely affect stability and performance.

For me the highlights of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 (aside from it being an LTS release) are GNOME 3.10, the new wallpapers and GNOME Classic. Each thing adds some additional polish to Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, and I think that most reasonable users will appreciate them after spending some time with it.

I have seen some reviews of regular Ubuntu 14.04 that have proclaimed it to be “the best version of Ubuntu yet” and that sort of thing. Well, I think it’s fair to say that Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 may also be the finest version of Ubuntu GNOME as well, and that’s something that the Ubuntu GNOME developers and users can take pride in.

What’s your take on Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.



Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

It’s time for another review of Ubuntu, Canonical’s popular desktop Linux distribution. Ubuntu moves to version 14.04 in this release. This time around the code name for Ubuntu is Trusty Tahr and it’s a long term support release (LTS) geared toward providing a more polished desktop experience.

I bet you’re wondering what the heck a tahr is right? Frankly, I’d never heard of such an animal until Ubuntu picked it as the mascot for this release. I have to give the Ubuntu developers credit for consistently finding weirdly named animals to represent each Ubuntu release. They must have a guy or gal who spends part of his or her time browsing Wikipedia to find these animals.

Perplexed about this strange critter, I did a bit of searching to discover more about it and here’s what I found:

Tahrs are three species of large Asian ungulates related to the wild goat. Until recently the three species were believed to be closely related and were placed in a single genus, Hemitragus. Genetic studies have proven that the three tahrs are not as closely related as previously thought. Now they are considered as members of four separate monotypic genera; Hemitragus is now reserved for the Himalayan Tahr; Nilgiritragus for the Nilgiri Tahr; Arabitragus for the Arabian Tahr;[1] and Ubuntu 14.04 for the Trusty Tahr which is an operating system.[2]

More at Wikipedia

Tahr

Tahrs are three species of large Asian ungulates related to the wild goat.

So there you go, it’s always enlightening to discover new animals that you’ve never heard of before when a new version of Ubuntu is released. Who knows what surprises the next release of Ubuntu may have for us…maybe it will be called Amazing Anaconda or Outrageous Ostrich or something like that.

Ubuntu 14.04 Desktop

The Ubuntu 14.04 desktop.

What’s New in Ubuntu 14.04
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.13
Local menus
Launcher icon size controls
Live window resizing on by default
Keyboard filtering for Unity App Spread
Super + L locks Ubuntu 14.04
Raise volume past 100%
Full menus in GNOME apps
Antialiased windows

Local menus
The lack of local menus was one of the most sought after features in Ubuntu and the Ubuntu developers didn’t disappoint in this release. To use them you’ll need to open Settings then go to Appearance and then click the “In the window’s title bar” option under “Show the menus for a window.” It’s a very easy change, it takes about two seconds.

After you make the change, click on the title bar on an application window and the local menu will appear. It contains all of the usual stuff: File, Edit, View, History, etc. Personally I find that the local menus are much faster and easier for me to use, but your mileage may vary. It’s a very good thing that the Ubuntu developers decided to give users the choice on how they want to use menus in applications.

Ubuntu 14.04 Local Menu Control

It’s simple to activate local menus in the appearance settings.

Ubuntu 14.04 Local Menu in Window

You can see the local menu active in this window.

Super + L locks Ubuntu 14.04
You can use the Super (Windows) + L keys to lock your Ubuntu 14.04 desktop. I don’t generally keep mine locked for the most part, but this is a very helpful keyboard shortcut for those times when you want to lock down your Ubuntu desktop to prevent unauthorized access to it. This is a small but very useful addition for some users.

Launcher icon size controls
Another great change in this release is the ability to control the size of the icons in the launcher. You can make them as small as 16 or as large as 64 pixels if you want. To change the launcher icon size just go to Settings then Appearance. From there you can use the slider bar at the bottom to adjust the launcher icons to your preferred size. This is a great way of making the launcher take up less screen space if you opt for smaller icons.

Ubuntu 14.04 Change Launcher Icon Size

It’s very easy and fast to change the size of the launcher icons.

Live window resizing
Here’s a feature that’s on by default, and you’ll notice it when you resize windows in Ubuntu 14.04. It’s not technically new, but the fact that it’s the default sort of makes it new. When you resize a window you’ll see the results as you do it. This is a bit better to look at than how it was previously done. It’s not an earth-shattering feature, but it is a nice piece of refinement that adds to the desktop experience in Ubuntu 14.04.

Antialiased windows
Another bit of refinement is the inclusion of antialiased window corners. Again, this is not earth shattering, but it does make the desktop more pleasant to use. I suspect that many users won’t even notice it, but I’m still glad that it has been included in this release.

Keyboard filtering for Unity App Spread
If you’ve ever used Unity’s app spread then you’ll appreciate the keyboard filtering in Ubuntu 14.04. You can now start typing the name of a window after hitting the Super + W keys to narrow down the windows that appear. This can be a fast timesaver if you need to switch to a particular window.

Raise volume past 100 percent
In the true spirit of Spinal Tap, you can now make the volume go past 100 percent. Yes, you can get that little bit of extra volume if you need it. To enable this, go to Settings then Sound and click on the “Allow louder than 100%” option.

Ubuntu 14.04 Make Sound Louder Than 100 Percent

Like Spinal Tap, you can make your Ubuntu 14.04 desktop go to 11.

Full menus in GNOME apps
GNOME apps have gotten full menus added back in. This affects apps like Rhythmbox and gives you the typical File, Edit, etc. selections in the menu. Given the changes in GNOME itself, this is a helpful tweak for Ubuntu users who may not be familiar with where GNOME has been headed.

Ubuntu 14.04 Download and Install
You can download Ubuntu 14.04 from this page. You can get Ubuntu 14.04 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

Installing Ubuntu 14.04 was trivial and took about ten minutes or so. Even complete newbies to Linux should have no problem installing Ubuntu 14.04 on their systems, and you also have the option of running it as a live desktop if you prefer not to do an install immediately.

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 14.04
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Mines
Sudoku
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg

Graphics
Shotwell Photo Manager
LibreOffice Draw
Document Viewer
Simple Scan
Image Viewer
Photo Lens

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Thunderbird Mail
Firefox
Transmission
Empathy IM
Remmina Remote Desktop Client

Multimedia
Videos
Gstreamer extra plugins
Rhythmbox Music Player
Cheese Webcam Booth
Brasero Disc Burner

Office
LibreOffice
Google Drive Scope for Unity

Ubuntu 14.04 Software Center

There are thousands of applications available in the Ubuntu 14.04 Software Center.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 14.04
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or post in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out one of these Ubuntu resources:

Ask Ubuntu
Ubuntu Documentation
Ubuntu Downloads
Ubuntu Forum
Ubuntu Site

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu 14.04
Ubuntu 14.04 seems to be all about refining the Ubuntu desktop. While there are not a lot of amazing new features in this release, there are quite a few very useful and needed tweaks that add up to a much better desktop experience. Canonical’s designers seem to be listening to Ubuntu users again, and they seem willing to make the changes necessary to give the users what they want. That may be the single most important thing about Ubuntu 14.04. It could be an indication of a sea change in Canonical’s attitude toward Ubuntu users.

For me the highlights of this release are the local menus and the ability to control the size of the icons in the launcher. Both features really gave me much more control over certain aspects of the Ubuntu desktop that I had been irritated by in the past. I’m very happy indeed that Canonical decided to include them in this release, and I think those two changes alone make it worth upgrading to Ubuntu 14.04.

Ubuntu 14.04 is well suited for beginners as well as more advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu 14.04? Tell me in the comments below.

Edubuntu 13.10

Ubuntu comes in many flavors, and it’s designed for very different kinds of users. Edubuntu 13.10 is an Ubuntu spin for educators. It comes preloaded with quite a selection of education-related applications including some for science and engineering.

While this release does not have much in the way of new features, it’s worth looking at since it differs so much from the other Ubuntu spins. It also adds real value for those who want a distribution focused on learning rather than just a general desktop.

Here’s the official description from the Edubuntu site:

Edubuntu is a grassroots movement, we aim to get Ubuntu into schools, homes and communities and make it easy for users to install and maintain their systems.

We are students, teachers, parents and hackers who believe that learning and knowledge should be available to everyone who wants to improve themselves and the world around them.

Our aim is to put together a system that contains all the best free software available in education and make it easy to install and maintain.

Edubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

Edubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Edubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Unity: 7.1.2
LibreOffice: 4.1.2
Firefox: 24.0
Thunderbird: 24.0
Linux: 3.11
Upstart: 1.10
Python 3.3.2

System Requirements for Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system.

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

Edubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Edubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.97 GB, so it’s not one of the smaller Ubuntu downloads. However, it does come with quite a bit of software. You can also get Edubuntu 13.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Edubuntu 13.10 Installation
Edubuntu 13.10 uses the Ubuntu installer. It’s very easy to install though it does take longer for the install to finish than the regular Ubuntu 13.10 distro.

The installer gives you the option of installing the GNOME 3.0 fallback interface, as well as LTSP (the Linux Terminal Server Project). You can also remove educational application packages during the install if you want. This gives educators some flexibility and control over which kinds of learning applications are installed by default.

Once the install begins, you can view slides that provide information about some of the learning applications included with Edubuntu 13.10. If you’ve never used this distro, I recommend looking at the slideshow as it’s a good primer on the applications you’ll be using once the install finishes.

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 1

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 1

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 2

Edubuntu 13.10 Install Options Part 2

Edubuntu 13.10 Slideshow

Edubuntu 13.10 Slideshow

The Edubuntu 13.10 Desktop
The first thing I noticed after the desktop loaded was the odd wallpaper. It’s a few trees, with a purplish sky at sunset or sunrise, I can’t really tell which. Anyway, I say that it’s odd because it doesn’t have anything to do with education.

I generally like wallpaper that fits the theme or the mission of the distribution. But this wallpaper looks forlorn and rather depressing. I think some sort of education-oriented wallpaper that’s a bit more upbeat would work better in future releases.

Edubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Edubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Edubuntu 13.10 uses Unity for its desktop environment, so it’s quite easy to find your way around if you’ve used Unity in the regular version of Ubuntu. Icons for search, the home folder, Firefox, LibreOffice, the Ubuntu Software Center and System Settings appear by default.

Edubuntu 13.10 comes with more than 30 Dash plugins. Plugins include Audacious, Banshee, Chromium Bookmarks, Facebook, Google Drive, Picasa and lots of others. You can easily disable any plugin by clicking on its icon and then clicking on the Disable button.

Edubuntu 13.10 Dash Plugins

Edubuntu 13.10 Dash Plugins

Edubuntu 13.10 Applications

Edubuntu 13.10 Applications

Linux Software Included in Edubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Atomix
Blinken
Educational Suite Gcompris
Einstein
gbrainy
Kanagram
KHangMan
Laby
Mahjongg
Mines
Pairs
Pairs Theme Editor
Potato Guy
Ri-li
Sudoku

Graphics
Dia
Document Viewer
E-Book Viewer
GIMP
ImageMagick
Image Viewer
Inkscape Vector Graphics Editor
KolourPaint
LibreCAD
LibreOffice Draw
LRF Viewer
Pencil
Scribus
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan
Xaos – Fractal Zoomer

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy IM
Epoptes
Firefox
Gobby Collaborative Editor
Liferea Feed Reader
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
X11VNC Server
Xpra Launcher

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
K3b
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder
Videos

Office
Calibre
Document Viewer
E-Book Viewer
Gramps Genealogy System
LibreOffice
VYM – View Your Mind

Science & Engineering
Cantor
Chemtool
Fritzing
KAlgebra
Kalzium
KStars
LibreCAD
Rocs

Linux Software Management Tools in Edubuntu 13.10
Edubuntu 13.10 uses the Ubuntu Software Center, so it’s very easy to add or remove software. Edubuntu 13.10 comes with a lot of great educational software, but there’s plenty more to be found in the Software Center.

Be sure to browse through the Education and Science categories, you’ll find quite a bit there to check out. You can also see Top Rated applications for each category, as well as at the top level of the Software Center. There are also user reviews and star ratings to help you decide whether or not you want to install an application.

To add or remove an application, just click the Install or Remove button.

Edubuntu 13.10 Software Center Science and Engineering Category

Edubuntu 13.10 Software Center Science and Engineering Category

Edubuntu 13.10 Education Category

Edubuntu 13.10 Education Category

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra Install Menu

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra Install Menu

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra User Reviews

Edubuntu 13.10 GeoGebra User Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Edubuntu 13.10
One minor problem I had was with the Ubuntu Software Center. It crashed the first time I tried to load it. I started it again and it loaded without any problems.

Aside from that, I didn’t notice any overt problems. Edubuntu 13.10 was very stable and reasonably fast. Please share any problems you’ve had in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks.

Where To Get Help for Edubuntu 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Edubuntu community page, and the Edubuntu documentation page.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Edubuntu 13.10
In some ways Edubuntu 13.10 reminds me of Ubuntu Studio 13.10. Both distros have staked out a particular market, and both do it very well indeed. Edubuntu 13.10 comes with many learning-oriented applications, and there are tons more that can be easily downloaded from the Ubuntu Software Center.

I highly recommend taking a look at Edubuntu 13.10 if you need an educational distribution. It hits all of the sweet spots for that market and should prove tremendously useful for teachers and schools.

Edubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Edubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10

I’ve been reviewing a lot of Ubuntu spins lately, and they’ve all been differentiated by their desktop environments. This time around though I decided to take a look at Ubuntu Studio 13.10, a distro that is geared towards multimedia work. Ubuntu Studio comes with loads of multimedia software that will help you create and manage all kinds of content.

Here’s the official description from the Ubuntu Studio site:

Ubuntu Studio is a free and open source operative system, and an official flavor of Ubuntu. Ubuntu Studio is the most widely used multimedia orientated GNU/Linux distribution in the world. It comes pre-installed with a selection of the most common free multimedia applications available, and is configured for best performance for the Ubuntu Studio defined workflows: Audio, Graphics, Video, Photography and Publishing.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

New menu structure
New package ubuntustudio-installer for metpackage installation
New Settings Manager
Ubuntu Studio added to GRUB menu
Xfce session in LightDM removed
New wallpaper
Linux kernel 3.11.3
GNOME Orca added
Ardour 3 added

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Settings

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Settings Manager

System Requirements for Ubuntu Studio 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu Studio is 512 MB of memory. It is highly recommended that you have 2GB, or more, as some applications use up a lot of RAM.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu Studio 13.10 from this page. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. You can download it via direct links or torrent links.

The file I downloaded weighed in at 2.58 GB, so it’s not a small download. But you do get quite a lot of software included with Ubuntu Studio, so it’s worth the larger download size.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Installation
Ubuntu Studio uses the Ubuntu installer, so installing it is a breeze. It’s also a live distro, so you can simply run it off a disc before doing an install on your computer.

The developers have added some nice slides to the slideshow that highlight some of the multimedia applications that come with this distro, you can check some of them out below in the screenshots.

The install did take a bit longer than the other Ubuntu spins, but it also comes with more software so that’s to be expected.

If you need to upgrade from Ubuntu Studio 13.04, here are the upgrade instructions from the release notes:

To upgrade from Ubuntu Studio 13.04, press Alt+F2 and type in “update-manager” (without the quotes) into the command box.

Software Updater should open up. Click “Settings” and click on the tab “Updates”.

Set “Notify me of a new Ubuntu version” to “For any new version”.

Close and relaunch Software Updater and the Software Updater should display the following message: “New distribution release ‘13.10’ is available.

Click Upgrade and follow the on-screen instructions”.

Please click on “Upgrade” and follow the instructions given.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Videos

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Videos

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Photography

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Photography

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Graphics

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Graphics

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Audio

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Install Slideshow Audio

The Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Desktop
Since this is the first time I’ve looked at Ubuntu Studio, I wondered which desktop environment it would use. I was very pleased to discover that it’s using Xfce, one of the best minimalist desktops available. It’s very easy to find your way around in Ubuntu Studio 13.10.

To access the applications menu, just click the button in the top panel. Applications are broken down into categories, with some having subcategories with even more applications that can be installed.

I particularly liked the icons for the Audio Production, Graphic Design, Photography , Video Production and Publishing categories. They show that the developers of this distro put some thought into differentiating it from other distributions.

Please note that there is a bottom panel available as well, but you won’t see it until you put your cursor over it. This is one of the few things about Xfce that I don’t like; the bottom panel auto-hides itself by default. You can fix this by right-clicking next to the first icon then choosing Panel and then Panel Preferences to uncheck the “Automatically show and hide the panel” checkbox.

One odd thing about the Ubuntu  Studio desktop is the wallpaper. For a distro that is focused on multimedia creation, the default wallpaper is rather subdued. I would have expected something more in line with the icons that I mentioned earlier and that you can see in the application menu screenshot below. Perhaps we’ll see a brighter and more colorful wallpaper in the next release.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Xfce Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Xfce Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Bottom Panel

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Bottom Panel

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File System

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File System

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File Manager

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 File Manager

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release. Please note that in some cases there are extra sub-categories of applications. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 comes with a lot of software, too much for me to list every application below.

Audio Production
Audio Processors (subcategory)
Midi Utilities (subcategory)
Mixers and Card Control (subcategory)
Sound Generators (subcategory)
QjackCtl
Patchage
gladish
LADI Player
LADI System Tray
Meterbridge
ARDOUR3
Ardour Digital Audio Workstation
Audacity
Hydrogen
Internet DJ Console
Linux Multimedia Studio
MuseScore
Pure Data
Qtractor
SooperLooper

Graphic Design
Extra Graphics Applications (subcategory)
Agave
Blender
FrontForge
GIMP
ImageMagick
Inkscape
Krita
MyPaint
SimpleScan
Synfig Studio

Photography
Extra Photography Applications (subcategory)
Darktable
GIMP
Phatch Image Inspector
Phatch PHoto bATCH Processor
Rapid Photo Downloader
RawTherapee
Shotwell

Video Production
Extra Video Applications (subcategory)
Audacity
Blender
Brasero
DVD Styler
Inkscape
Kdenlive
OpenShot Video Editor
RecordMyDesktop
Subtitle Editor
Videos
Xjadeo

Publishing
FontForge
Font Manager
MuseScore
Scribus
SimpleScan

Internet
Firefox
Remote Desktop Viewer
Transmission
XChat IRC

Media Playback
Audacious
Brasero
HDAJackRetask
Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control
Videos
xine

Office
Dictionary
Document Viewer
Extra Office Applications (subcategory)
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
Ubuntu  Studio 13.10 uses the Ubuntu Software Center, so it’s very easy to find additional applications. Just find the application you want and click the Install button to add it or the Remove button to delete it. You can also see Top Rated applications at the top level and in each category.

Although Ubuntu Studio’s focus is multimedia, it’s nice to know that you can so easily add other applications. It gives this distro some additional appeal for folks that want all of the multimedia stuff, but who also might want to use it for other things.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Top Rated Applications

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Top Rated Applications

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine Menu

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine User Reviews

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 Clementine User Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu Studio 13.10
With the exception of the slower install, I didn’t see any problems with Ubuntu Studio 13.10. It ran well for me, I found it to be very stable and fast. If you’ve seen any problems, please note them in the comments below for the benefits of other readers.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu Studio 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu Studio support page. The support page includes link to the Ubuntu Studio section of the Ubuntu forums, IRC chat, mailing lists, and the Google+ community page.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu Studio 13.10
I was very impressed with Ubuntu Studio 13.10, I think it’s one of the best Ubuntu spins I’ve ever seen. The developers set out to create a distro that focuses on multimedia like a laser beam, and they’ve entirely succeeded in their efforts. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 is the distribution for anyone who needs to create or manage multimedia content.

Could you achieve the same thing by using a different Ubuntu spin and then adding multimedia software yourself? I suppose so but then you’d have to run around the Ubuntu Software Center downloading application after application. Ubuntu Studio 13.10 makes it much easier by providing pretty much everything you’d ever need for multimedia work. It’s all there for you from the moment that your desktop loads.

Ubuntu Studio 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu Studio 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10

Note: I’ve done some edits to this review after getting feedback from readers. The initial version was too skewed by my own lack of enthusiasm for GNOME 3. I’ve added some content and bumped up the score to better reflect the overall value of Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 rather than my own feelings toward GNOME 3. Thanks to my readers for sharing their thoughts, my apologies for the earlier take on this distro.

Unity has caused an enormous amount of controversy in the Ubuntu community, with many hating it and some loving it. Fortunately, we are blessed with other desktop environments to use on top of the Ubuntu base. In addition to Lubuntu, Xubuntu and Kubuntu, we also have Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. That’s right, you can simply opt to run GNOME on top of Ubuntu instead of Unity.

GNOME 3 is definitely not my cup of tea. It is probably my least favorite Linux desktop, and it has gotten a lot of flack from various people including Linus Torvalds (who switched to Xfce but then switched back to GNOME 3 later). This guy sums up well some of the reasons why GNOME 3 has garnered such criticism.

However, I understand that GNOME 3 has those who appreciate it and prefer it. If you’re one of them then you will most likely enjoy Ubuntu GNOME 13.10. It blends the GNOME 3.8 desktop with Ubuntu very well.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Application Menu

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Classic Application Menu

My preference in this release is GNOME Classic. GNOME Classic is more or less GNOME as it used to be, and I found using it to be much more enjoyable than GNOME 3. Your mileage may vary, however.

Whatever your preference, it’s easy to switch between GNOME 3.8 and GNOME Classic by changing the session at the login screen.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Login Menu

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Login Menu

What’s New in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Most of GNOME 3.8 is included
Artwork improvements
GNOME Classic included
Ubuntu Online Account no longer included (you have to install it if you want it)

System Requirements for Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

The Minimum System Requirement for Ubuntu GNOME is 1 GB of RAM. It is recommended to have more. If you have an old machine, you may consider other alternatives like Lubuntu.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 907 MB. You can get Ubuntu GNOME 3.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I opted to use the 64-bit version for this review.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Installation
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 obviously uses the Ubuntu installer, which means it is very fast and easy to install. I had no problems installing it. It’s also a live distro, so you can run it off a disc before doing an install. Be sure to click the check boxes during the install to download updates and install third party software.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Prepare Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Prepare Install

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Desktop
Since this release includes most of GNOME 3.8, you should be aware of its new features. Here’s a brief list of some of what you’ll find, you can see the GNOME 3.8 release notes for more details (I recommend reading it as there’s much more than I can cover in this review).

New application launching views: Frequent and All tabs
New search results and settings in Activities Overview
New privacy and sharing settings (including screen lock, name & visibility, usage and history, and temporary files and trash purging)
Clocks core application
Better animation rendering
GNOME Classic mode
Bug fixes
Input methods

When your desktop loads, you’ll see the Activities link on the top panel. Click that and you’ll see the Favorites panel appear on the left. Firefox, Evolution, Empathy, Rhythmbox, Shotwell, and LibreOffice are all available on the panel. So it’s easy to do most typical desktop tasks right away. You can also access your files, help information and the Show Applications button on the panel.

If you click the Show Applications button, you’ll see two tabs: Frequent and All. The Frequent tabs shows your most used applications, while the All tab lists everything. After you’ve used Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 for a while, your favorites will start appearing thus making it easier to find the applications you use most often.

In addition to applications, you will also see Display, Brightness and Lock, Background, Backup and other important system settings on the All Tab. The icons are in alphabetical order, so it’s not hard to find a particular one as long as you know it’s name.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 3.8 Desktop

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Shotwell
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy
Firefox
Transmission

Multimedia
Cheese
Rhythmbox
Videos

Office
gedit
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
In the last release of Ubuntu GNOME (13.04), the Ubuntu Software Center was added, and I think it was a very good decision. As always it’s very easy to find software. To add or remove an application just click the Install or Remove buttons.

You can also read user reviews and see star ratings for applications. There’s a Top Rated section as well to make it easier for you to find some of the best apps available.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium User Reviews and Star Ratings

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 Stellarium User Reviews and Star Ratings

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
In terms of speed and stability, both GNOME Classic and GNOME 3 seemed to perform pretty well. If you had any problems, please list them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page. The support page includes documentation, professional support services, free community support, and a technical answers system.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu GNOME 13.10
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 will be welcomed by GNOME fans. GNOME 3.8 adds some significant new features that enhance the desktop experience, and all of it has been combined well with Ubuntu 13.10 itself. So the end result will probably be quite appealing for those who want Ubuntu, but with GNOME 3.8 instead of Unity.

If you are not a fan of GNOME 3 then Lubuntu, Kubuntu or Xubuntu are much better desktop environments if you need to stay within the Ubuntu family. If none of those appeal to you then you might want to just sit tight and wait for Linux Mint 16 to arrive.

Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu GNOME 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

In my last review of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 13.04) I noted that Ubuntu has become a bit boring to review. I had hoped that Ubuntu 13.10 would fix that, and that there would be some terrific new features to comment on.

Alas, Ubuntu 13.10 follows in the footsteps of Ubuntu 13.04. The big new desktop feature is Smart Scopes (more on that below). Beyond that there’s not a whole lot that is interesting or exciting to talk about. It turns out that Saucy Salamander is one truly dull amphibian.

Canonical really should rename this release to “Snoozing Salamander” instead.

A Boring Salamander

Zzzzzzzzzzz!

What’s New in Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.11
Smart Scopes
Ubuntu One login in installer
New keyboard applet
LibreOffice 4.1.2.3
Firefox 24

Smart Scopes
Smart Scopes is probably the biggest new feature for desktop users. It has generated a fair amount of controversy and rancor in the Linux community. Smart Scopes functions much like searching in your browser. Just start typing a search term and you’ll see a list of results appear that comprise local data or various online sources. Click on the result that interests you and a browser window will open where you can get more information.

This is a very useful function, and it can save you a lot of time when looking for information. I understand that some people will regard this as a privacy violation, no problem. There’s an easy way to disable Smart Scopes, here are the instructions to do so:

1. Click on Settings.

2. Click on Security and Privacy.

3. Click on the Search tab.

4. Click the “Include online search results” toggle to change it to the off position.

Ubuntu 13.10 Disable Smart Scopes

Ubuntu 13.10 Disable Smart Scopes

Personally I’d keep it on, but others may feel very differently. Canonical has done the right thing by giving people a choice, and by making it so easy to turn off if the user doesn’t want to use Smart Scopes.

New Keyboard Applet
Ubuntu 13.10 comes with a new keyboard applet that makes it easier to switch layouts and languages.

Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Applet

Ubuntu 13.10 Keyboard Applet

Ubuntu One Login During Install
You can now login to Ubuntu One during your install so it will be ready when you load your desktop.

Ubuntu 13.10 Ubuntu One Login

Ubuntu 13.10 Ubuntu One Login

System Requirements for Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system.

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

Ubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Ubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at around 925.9 MB.

Ubuntu 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Ubuntu 13.10 Installation
The Ubuntu 13.10 installer is as easy as ever. My install took about fifteen minutes or so. There’s also a brief slideshow you can watch while your install completes.

Ubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Prepare

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop
There’s not too much new to note about the Ubuntu 13.10 desktop since I covered the new stuff in the What’s New section above. It’s pretty much the same for the most part as Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.10 Search

Ubuntu 13.10 Search

Ubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Ubuntu 13.10 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Document Viewer
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy IM
Firefox
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Multimedia
Videos
Rhythmbox Music Player

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu 13.10
The Ubuntu Software Center is as good as ever. It’s very easy to find software in it. You can even find Top Rated software such as VLC, GParted and other top notch applications.

Applications are broken down into the usual categories and subcategories, and you can also search for a particular application if you don’t want to browse around to find it. You can also see star ratings and read reviews by other users before installing an application.

To install an app, just find it in the Software Center and click the Install button (click Remove to take it off your system).

Ubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Software

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Install

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Install

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Reviews

Ubuntu 13.10 VLC Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu 13.10
Ubuntu 13.10 ran pretty well for me, I didn’t encounter any noticeable slowdown or crashes. If you’ve seen any, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other users.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu 13.10
At the beginning of the review, I barked about how Ubuntu 13.10 was boring. Well, it is boring.

But it’s also still a very good desktop Linux distribution. It works well, and it was also speedy and stable for me. So even though I complained about the lack of pizzazz in this release, you should not discount the appeal of Ubuntu 13.10.

If you’re looking for a desktop distribution, be sure to check it out. It may not wow you with tons of new features, but it builds on a very reliable base and it hits most of the sweet spots for desktop users.

Ubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

Ubuntu 13.04 has been released, so it’s time to do another review of Canonical’s popular distro. This time around Ubuntu’s code name is “Raring Ringtail.” It appears to be a reference to the ring-tailed cat. I had no idea what a ring-tail cat is, so of course I googled.

Here’s some background on the a ring-tailed cat:

The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) is a mammal of the raccoon family (thus not actually a cat), native to arid regions of North America. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat, miner’s cat or “marv cat”, and is also sometimes mistakenly called a “civet cat” (after similar, though unrelated, cat-like omnivores of Asia and Africa). The ringtail is sometimes called a cacomistle, though this term seems to be more often used to refer to Bassariscus sumichrasti.

Ring-tailed Cat

Aaah, now that we all know about ring-tailed cats, let’s get on with the review.

What’s New in Ubuntu 13.04

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Linux kernel 3.8.8
Unity 7
Upstart 1.8
LibreOffice 4.0
CUPS 1.6.2
Python 3.3
Simplified Details Panel in Software Updater
Upstart User Sessions
Friends (replaces Gwibber)

Linux kernel 3.8.8

Ubuntu 13.04 includes the 3.8.0-19.29 Ubuntu Linux kernel which was based on the v3.8.8 upstream Linux kernel.

Unity 7

Unity 7 brings a lot of performance improvements, reduced memory consumption and a great number of small UI fixes to bring a better overall shell experience. Those are like being typo-tolerant in the dash when searching for an application, using the mouse scroll wheel on a launcher icon to switch between applications or better available third party devices handling. You will notice as well some new icons themes to continue on lead of bringing design as the central Ubuntu experience.

You will notice that only one workspace is available by default on any new installation. If you want to bring back workspaces, you can find an option in the Appearance panel of System Settings under the Behavior tab. You can as well enable “Show desktop” button on the Launcher.

Upstart 1.8

This release provides a new bridge, the upstart-file-bridge(8) that allows jobs to react to filesystem changes. For example, to have a job start when a particular file is created:

start on file FILE=/var/log/foo.log EVENT=create

Or to start a job when a file matching a glob pattern is deleted:

start on file FILE=/var/app/*.foo EVENT=delete

See upstart-file-bridge(8) and file-event(7) for further details.

Additionally, a new upstart-monitor(8) tool is available that allows event flows to be observed in real-time. This tool can run as a graphical or console application.

LibreOffice 4.0

for all details, see: https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleaseNotes/4.0

CORE

  • New Widget layout technique for dialog windows introduced
  • Support for Firefox Personas in LibreOffice
  • Document Management Systems Integration for Alfresco, Nuxeo, SharePoint via libcmis
  • Less Java dependencies: e.g. more Wizards available even in the default install
  • moved completely from Python 2.6 to Python 3.3 internally
  • PDF Import, the Presenter Console, and the Python Scripting Provider are core features now
  • dropping legacy binfilter and a lot of obsolete UNO-API interfaces

WRITER

  • The “Apply Style” combo box in the toolbar now features previews of the styles to choose.
  • Import ink annotations from DOCX and RTF documents
  • Import / export support for native RTF math expressions

CALC

  • Various performance improvements of ODS document import
  • Increased size limit on (uncompressed) ODF documents from 2Gb to 4Gb
  • XML Source dialog to quickly import arbitrary XML content

IMPRESS/DRAW

  • Impress Remote control for controling presentations via Bluetooth/Wifi from a Smartphone
  • Import for MS Publisher files
  • Import for _all_ Visio file formats, even MS Office 2013
  • various PPX import fixes
  • hyperlinks/fields wrapping
  • RTL support for the Presenter Console

BASE

  • Native support (mork driver) for accessing Thunderbird address books

CUPS 1.6.2 and cups-filters 1.0.34

We had already switched to CUPS 1.6.x in Quantal (12.10) but had to apply a huge, awkward Ubuntu-specific patch to avoid regressions. Now we are up to all new standards without needing to do anything Ubuntu-specific.

Most important change here is the way how network printing works. Formerly, a CUPS-specific mechanism was used. The server broadcasted information about the printers it shares and the clients listen to these broadcasts making the printers available on the client side, looking like local print queues for the applications.

Recently, the Printer Working Group (PWG), an association of printer and software industry for developing standards related to digital printing, has created a standard for broadcasting information about shared printers. This standard is broadcasting the information via Bonjour, a protocol also used for many other network services, like shared files systems, screens, music/video servers, …

CUPS has adopted this standard in 1.6.x, but only broadcasts and does not listen to broadcasts of CUPS daemons (or generally print servers using Bonjour) on other machines, letting remote printers not automatically get available locally. CUPS also dropped the old broadcasting protocol without transition period.

To overcome the problems and keeping network printing as easy as before (this is why 10 years ago the distros switched to CUPS) the cups-filters project ofOpenPrinting introduced cups-browsed, an extra daemon which by default listens to Bonjour broadcasts of remote CUPS daemons (of IPP printers coming soon) and automatically creates local print queues pointing to the shared printers making pure CUPS 1.6.x networks working out-of-the-box.

If your network still contains machines running CUPS 1.5.x and older, cups-browsed also has legacy support for the old CUPS broadcasting, browsing (listening), and BrowsePoll. Please see the comments in /etc/cups/cups-browsed.conf, edit the file appropriately, and restart cups-browsed (“sudo restart cups-browsed”) or reboot. When upgrading to Raring, BrowsePoll directives are overtaken from CUPS to cups-browsed automatically.

For everyone developing embedded or mobile systems based on Ubuntu, the CUPS package is split up into more binary packages to get a minimum client-only printing stack, of the packages cups-daemon, libcups2, and cups-browsed, occupying only ~1 MB. This only listens for Bonjour broadcasts (legacy CUPS broadcasts and BrowsePoll optional) of remote CUPS servers and makes the printers available locally. No drivers and filters for locally connected printers are available then.

Another thing to mention which was available before but never told about in release notes: When sharing local printers they are automatically available also for Apple’s iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch).

Python 3.3

We eventually intend to ship only Python 3 with the Ubuntu desktop image, not Python 2. The Ubuntu 13.04 image continues this process, although we will not be able to convert everything to Python 3 for Ubuntu 13.04 final image.

If you have your own programs based on Python 2, fear not! Python 2 will continue to be available (as the python package) for the foreseeable future. However, to best support future versions of Ubuntu you should consider porting your code to Python 3. Python/3 has some advice and resources on this.

Automatic Apport crash reporting has been enabled by default again to catch problems early on. It now checks for duplicates on the client side, which will avoid uploading debug data and creating Launchpad bug reports unnecessarily in many cases now.

Software Updater

Software Updater in 13.04 has a simplified details panel that most prominently shows applications and manually-installed packages. Libraries and packages that belong to the base system are collected under a single item.

Upstart User Sessions (technology preview)

This Ubuntu release includes a “tech preview” of Upstart User Sessions, which allow Upstart to supervise a user’s desktop session. This feature is disabled by default for Ubuntu 13.04, but can be manually enabled for testing.

To enable Upstart User Sessions for all users:

  1. Uncomment “ubuntu” in file /etc/upstart-xsessions.
  2. Logout of any desktop sessions.
  3. Login to the default Unity session.

To disable, simply comment out “ubuntu“, logout and log back in again.

Friends

Social networking for 13.04 is now handled by the Friends service, which replaces the backend Gwibber provided in previous Ubuntu releases. There is no transition required, if you have social networking accounts setup in Ubuntu Online Accounts, the Friends service will just work. The Gwibber lens in Unity has been replaced with a Friends lens and works in much the same way. The Gwibber client application is no longer included by default, for similar functionality friends-app can be installed from Software Center.

System Requirements for Ubuntu 13.04

Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system.

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

Ubuntu 13.04 Download

You can download the desktop version of Ubuntu 13.04 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 785 MB.

You can download the various other spins of Ubuntu from these links:

http://cloud-images.ubuntu.com/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu Cloud Server)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/netboot/13.04/ (Ubuntu Netboot)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-core/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu Core)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/edubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Edubuntu DVD)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/kubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Kubuntu)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/lubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Lubuntu)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntustudio/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu Studio)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-gnome/releases/13.04/release/ (Ubuntu-GNOME)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/ubuntukylin/releases/13.04/release/ (UbuntuKylin)
http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/xubuntu/releases/13.04/release/ (Xubuntu)

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

You can get Ubuntu 13.04 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

Ubuntu 13.04 Installation

If you’re running Ubuntu 12.10, you might want to check out the upgrade instructions to upgrade to 13.04.

As always, the Ubuntu 13.04 is very easy and fast. You can watch a slideshow while your install completes.

Please note that you have the option to download updates and third party software during the install. I opted to do this as it saved from me from having to do it after my install completed. I recommend that you do the same, it’ll save you time later on.

Ubuntu 13.04 is also a live distro, so you can just click the Try Ubuntu button after booting off the CD or DVD. You can also just take a web based tour of Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 13.04 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Try or Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Type

Ubuntu 13.04 Prepare Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Prepare Install

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu 13.04 Install Slideshow

Ubuntu 13.04 Login Screen

Ubuntu 13.04 Login Screen

The Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

This release comes with Unity 7.  Unity 7 contains a number of useful changes and additions including:

Faster Icon Reveal
Dash Error Finding
Scroll Switching
Filesystem Fill
Tooltip Fade
Non-Pixelated Pips
Radio Dot

Please note that in the desktop screenshot below I have changed the default wallpaper to something a little more eye catching. The default wallpaper is a bit more subdued, so don’t freak if you hate the wallpaper I have in the screenshot.

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop Wallpapers

Ubuntu 13.04 Desktop Wallpapers

Ubuntu 13.04 Folders

Ubuntu 13.04 Folders

Ubuntu 13.04 Application Categories

Ubuntu 13.04 Application Categories

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Applications

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Applications

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Videos

Ubuntu 13.04 Search Videos

Ubuntu 13.04 System Settings

Ubuntu 13.04 System Settings

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 13.04

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Document Viewer
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy IM
Firefox
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Rhythmbox Music Player
Videos

Office
LibreOffice (Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer)

Linux Software Management Tools in Ubuntu 13.04

The Ubuntu Software Center remains one of the best software managers around. There are more than 44,000 apps available for you to use on your system. Apps are broken down into categories. You can also see screenshots, user reviews and star ratings.

It’s also very easy to add or remove software. Just find the app you want to install or remove, and click the button.

Be sure to check out the Top Rated apps, it has a terrific list of apps that most desktop users will find useful.

Ubuntu 13.04 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.04 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.04 Star Apps

Ubuntu 13.04 Star Apps

Ubuntu 13.04 Install GIMP

Ubuntu 13.04 Install GIMP

Problems & Headaches Found in Ubuntu 13.04

Ubuntu 13.04 seemed quite polished to me. I didn’t see any noticeable speed or stability problems in this release. Canonical has made tweaks to improve Ubuntu’s speed, and that seems to be noticeable in this release.

You should know that Wubi, the Windows installer, has been removed in Ubuntu 13.04:

Due to various bugs in Wubi that have not been addressed in time for the final release, the Ubuntu team will not be releasing the Wubi installer with 13.04. You can read more about this decision here. Users who wish to try out Ubuntu without repartitioning a Windows system are encouraged to use a live system instead, booted from either a DVD or a USB disk.

I haven’t run Windows in years, so this is a total non-issue for me. But there may be some folks out there who are affected by it.

You should also be aware that the support time for this release has been reduced from 18 months to 9 months.

If you’ve seen any problems with Ubuntu 13.04, please share your experiences in the comments section. It’s always helpful for readers to get a heads up on any potential headaches, before installing a distro.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 13.04

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page, which has links to documentation, an answer system, free community support, and professional support services .

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu 13.04

I found Ubuntu 13.04 to be a slightly disappointing upgrade. While there are definitely some enhancements in this release, there’s also nothing very special about it. When I sat down to do this review, I was looking forward to some great stuff from Canonical that might make me want to actually use Ubuntu again.

Alas, there’s nothing in Ubuntu 13.04 that makes me want to consider it for use as my daily distro. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s nothing overtly wrong with Ubuntu 13.04 either. It installed and performed very well for me. Unity 7 also has some helpful and attractive updates that Ubuntu users will enjoy, and there are other things in this release that help improve the overall Ubuntu experience.

Frankly, however, Ubuntu has become a rather boring distro to review. Perhaps I’m just jaded though? Or perhaps it has just evolved enough not to require any massive changes or loads of new features? I’m not sure, but I do know that I haven’t looked forward to an update to Ubuntu in a while, unlike Linux Mint and some other distros.

I suspect it is simply because Ubuntu has settled into a comfortable middle age, it works and it works very well for what it does. So there’s not a lot of need for cool, whiz-bang features for reviewers like me to drool over.

My distro jadedness aside, if you’re a current Ubuntu user, then you’ll want to consider upgrading. There’s enough here to increase your enjoyment of Ubuntu on your computer. But if you’re already using another distro, I doubt there’s anything here that will get you to switch to Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 13.04 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced users.

What’s your take on Ubuntu 13.04? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu 12.10

Ubuntu 12.10 has been released. So it’s time for another review to see what’s in it, and if it’s worth considering as your preferred desktop distro.

In keeping with Canonical’s past tradition, Ubuntu 12.10 has a cute animal nickname. This time around it’s called “Quantal Quetzel.” You’re probably wondering what the heck a “quetzel” is, right? I was too, so I googled it and here’s what I found:

Resplendent Quetzal

Click the image to browse books about quetzals.

Quetzals (play /k?ts???l/ or play /?k?ts?l/) are strikingly colored birds in the trogon family. They are found in forests and woodlands, especially in humid highlands, with the five species from the genus Pharomachrus being exclusively Neotropical, while the single Euptilotis species is almost entirely restricted to western Mexico also in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala . They are fairly large (all over 32 cm or 13 inches long), slightly bigger than other trogon species. Quetzals have iridescent green or golden-green wing coverts, back, chest and head, with a red belly. They are strongly sexually dimorphic, and parts of the females’ plumage are brown or grey. These largely solitary birds feed on fruits, berries, insects and small vertebrates (such as frogs). Despite their bright plumage, they can be surprisingly difficult to see in their wooded habitats.

So there you go, now you know what a Quetzal is, thanks to Canonical and Ubuntu 12.10. You learn something new every day. It’s certainly a colorful bird, if a bit odd looking. If you want more information about them, be sure to browse Amazon’s selection of books about quetzals.

Alright, enough about the nickname. Now on with the review.

What’s New in Ubuntu 12.10

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

WebApp Desktop Integration
Online Search
Dash Previews

Ubuntu 12.10 now lets you integrate web applications right into your desktop. When you visit a site such as GMail and login, you’ll get a pop menu that asks you if you want to install GMail. Just click the Install button and the app will be added to the Ubuntu launcher. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, more on that in the problems section.

Ubuntu 12.10 Web App Installer
Online search now lets you use Ubuntu to search online accounts such as Flickr, Google Drive and others.

Ubuntu Web Apps

Dash Previews let you preview your search results in the Dash. For example, you might want to play a song directly from a preview, without opening a music player. This helps cut down on the need to open more windows to actually interact with your content and data.

Online Search in Ubuntu 12.10

System Requirements for Ubuntu 12.10

Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

Ubuntu 12.10 Download

You can download Ubuntu 12.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 790 MB. You can also buy Ubuntu 12.10 on DVD from Amazon.com or snag a cool Ubuntu coffee mug.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox, VMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop. You can also opt to use the Windows Installer for Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 12.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Just click the drop down menu on the download page to switch versions.

Ubuntu 12.10 Installation

The Ubuntu 12.10 install is easy and relatively fast. Note that on the “Preparing to install Ubuntu” screen, you have the option to download updates while installing, and to install third party software such as Flash. I recommend that you check both boxes, it will save you time and effort later on. I did just that for this review.

If you are already running Ubuntu 12.04, here’s how you can upgrade your system to 12.10. Be sure to do a backup before trying an upgrade.

The Ubuntu 12.10 Desktop

There are new lenses available in Ubuntu 12.10, including a photo lens. You can search your photos by EXIF data, tag or name. You can also integrate your photos with online services such as Facebook or Picasa.

One of the desktop changes that some folks might not like is the web app link to Amazon.com (see the icon on the launcher in the screenshot below). This might come across as a bridge too far in terms of the outright commercialization of Ubuntu. And it is an eery reminder of all the garbage that gets installed on Windows PCs by default, by the hardware companies.

Is this where Ubuntu is going? Will you someday boot into your Ubuntu desktop only to find tons of commercial crapware clogging up your desktop by default? I sure hope not, as it will be another reason for people to avoid Ubuntu.

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu 12.10

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
FreeCell Solitaire
Mines
Sudoku
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg

Graphics
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager & Viewer
Image Viewer
Document Viewer
Photo Lens for Unity
Simple Scan

Internet
Remmina Remote Desktop Client
Desktop Sharing
Thunderbird Mail
Firefox
Gwibber
Transmission
Ubuntu Extension for Firefox
Empathy

Multimedia
Movie Player
GStreamer Extra Plugins
GStreamer ffmpeg Video Plugin
Ubuntu One Music Store
Brasero Disc Burner
Sound Recorder
Rhythmbox Music Player

Office
LibreOffice
Google Documents Scope for Unity

Software Management Tools in Ubuntu 12.10

The Ubuntu Software center is as easy to use as ever. You’ll find thousands of applications and games for your Ubuntu system. The vast majority are free, but there are some apps and games you can buy as well. I have no problem with this, it makes sense to compensate commercial software developers who release their applications on the Linux platform.

Ubuntu Software Center in Ubuntu 12.10

Adding & Removing Software
It’s easy to add or remove software. Just click the Install or Buy button in an app’s page in the Software Center to add it. Click the Remove button to remove it from your Ubuntu system.

Add Wireshark to your Ubuntu System

Problems & Headaches in Ubuntu 12.10

One of the neat, new features in Ubuntu 12.10 is web apps. When you install a web app such as Twitter, it’s supposed to appear in the launcher. Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. I installed Twitter and GMail, but neither of them showed up in the launcher. I have no idea why. Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen something similar.

Unity 2D has been removed. This could be a problem for folks with older devices without dedicated graphics cards to run the 3D version of Unity. The software will switch to using the CPU, but that could result in much slower performance. If you’re one of those people, I’d consider running a different desktop than Unity, and a different distro altogether if necessary. Xfce and similar desktop environments don’t require 3D graphics, and they don’t dump a 3D desktop onto a CPU alone.

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu 12.10

Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page. You’ll find links to documentation, technical answers, free community support, and paid support as well.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu 12.10

This release definitely adds some value for Ubuntu users.

The developers were clearly looking for ways to integrate the web into Ubuntu, and they largely succeeded in doing so. Being able to install frequently used web apps into the launcher makes it much faster and easier to access them. However, Ubuntu is following in the footsteps of distros like Peppermint OS that have had such integration for ages. Still, it’s good to see it happen and I think most Ubuntu users will enjoy it.

Being able to search online accounts is potentially very useful, indeed. It cuts down on having to go to a web browser to do a search, and it integrates the search results into Ubuntu itself.

Previews in the Dash are also very helpful. I hate having to constantly open new windows to do things, so anything like this that cuts down on additional clicking is fine in my book.

Overall, Ubuntu 12.10 is a decent upgrade for current Ubuntu users. However, the inclusion of the Amazon icon on the launcher, and the discontinuation of Unity 2D might irritate some people. Still, it’s certainly worth a download to check out Ubuntu 12.10.

Ubuntu 12.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu Linux 12.10
Web Site: http://ubuntu.com
Support This Distro: http://www.ubuntu.com/community/get-involved
Price: Free
Pros: Online search; web app integration, dash previews.
Cons: Web app integration seemed buggy; Unity 2D has been removed; Amazon web app icon included in Dock.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 3.5/5

Ubuntu 12.04

Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) is out. By now there are a zillion reviews of it already, but I wanted to take a little more time to use it before writing one of my own. Before I get into this review, I want to be clear that I’m not going to be reviewing Unity. By now most people know what it is, and either like it or don’t. There really isn’t any point in complaining about it any more. If you hate it then do not use Ubuntu, just find another distro.

Each time Ubuntu does a new release; it uses an animal nickname. This time around it’s called “Precise Pangolin.” I had no idea what the heck a pangolin was so I googled and found this (for those of you who are interested, if not just skip to the What’s New section):

A pangolin ( /?pæ???l?n/), scaly anteater, or trenggiling, is a mammal of the order Pholidota. The only one extant family (Manidae) has one genus (Manis) of pangolins, comprising eight species. There are also a number of extinct taxa. Pangolins have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation.[2] They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name “pangolin” derives from the Malay word pengguling (“something that rolls up”).

Pangolins are nocturnal animals, and use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.

Pangolin

Pangolins are nocturnal mammals.

For more information about pangolins, see this book:

What On Earth is a Pangolin?

There’s also a cute statue of a pangolin if you’re really into them.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

HUD
Video Lens
Linux Kernel 3.2.14
Rhythymbox is the default music player
GNOME 3.41
Quicklist support added to Unity
LibreOffice 3.5.2
Software Center improvements
Ubuntu One gets a Control Panel

The HUD is an alternative to clicking around on menu items when you want to do something. Just hit the ALT key and you can start typing in a search term related to whatever it is you want to do. If you’re a dedicated mouse clicker, this might seem a bit slower than just clicking an icon. Once you get used to doing it, you will find that it can be much faster. Keyboard junkies will revel in it right from the start though, they’ll get to skip farting around in menus completely.

The HUD isn’t an earth shattering new feature, but it grew on me as I used it more and more. I tend to like having icons handy to click on, so if I grew to like it then I suspect other clickers will probably do the same once they get used to it. Who knew the ALT key could be so useful?

Ubuntu 12.04 HUD

Hit the ALT key to quickly use commands in Ubuntu 12.04.

To use the Video Lens, just click the Dash icon then click on the video icon at the bottom. Or just access the video lens via the quicklist on the Dash icon. This lens will be a huge help to anybody who keeps many videos on their Ubuntu systems. You can also get online search results for your video searches for sites like YouTube, etc. For example, I did a search on the term “how to skin a squirrel” and got back a bunch of results from YouTube.

Video Lens

The video lens makes it easy to find video content on your computer or online.

The HUD and the Video Lens are the two most notable new features in this release. But some of the other things are worth noting as well.

The Nautilus quicklist support makes it very easy to hop around to Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures or Videos. You can also open a new window or hop to your Home folder.

The switch to Rythymbox will please some and displease others. If you prefer to use something else, you’ll find alternatives in the Ubuntu Software Center.

The Software Center has gotten some improvements. I’ll cover those in the software section on the next page.

Ubuntu One has a new control panel that adds an installer, folder & sync management, and a setup wizard.

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One

System Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • While the minimum memory requirement for 32bit is 384 MB, a minimum of 512 MB is needed for the 64bit installation. On systems with only the bare minimum amount of memory, it is also strongly recommended to use the “Install Ubuntu” option as it uses less memory than the full live session.
  • The Ubuntu 12.04 installation image does not include support for old computers that do not support PAE. If your computer is affected, you can either first install Ubuntu 10.04 or 11.10 and upgrade to 12.04 or you can use the Lubuntu or Xubuntu images. The non-PAE version of the Linux kernel will be dropped completely following the 12.04 release.

Ubuntu 12.04 Download
You can download Ubuntu 12.04 from this page. The ISO file weighed in at 735.4 MB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox, VMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop.

You have the option of downloading Ubuntu 12.04 in 32 bit or 64 bit. There’s also a Windows installer available (with instructions), and you can opt to buy CDs if you’d rather do that than a download.

Installation
As you might imagine, installing Ubuntu 12.04 is about as easy as it gets in Linux.

You also have the option of trying Ubuntu 12.04 as a Live CD (burn it to a CD and then boot into that CD) before actually installing it. Note also that you can choose to download updates and install third party software during the install (as shown below in the screenshot). I recommend that you do so, to save yourself time later on.

You can also watch a slideshow that will demonstrate some of the features found in Ubuntu 12.04.

Ubuntu Try or Install

Ubuntu 12.04 is a Live distro, so you can try it before you install it.

Ubuntu 12.04 Install

The Ubuntu 12.04 installer is easy and fast.

Install Slide Show

Watch a slideshow while Ubuntu 12.04 finishes installing.

The Desktop
I really like the Nautilus Quicklists. The Dash icon and the Home icon both have them, and they are quite useful. Click the Dash or Home icon, and you’ll see a list popup as shown in the screenshot of the Home icon below.

You can quickly navigate to various Home folders, or you can access any of Ubuntu’s lenses. It’s much faster to hop around than it was in previous versions of Ubuntu.

I wouldn’t even bother accessing the lenses by clicking the Dash icon and then moving my cursor to the bottom of the page to click on a lens icon. Doing it that way feels like swimming in molasses compared to the quicklist.

Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop

The installed Ubuntu 12.04 desktop.

Home Quicklist

Use quicklists on the Home or Dash icon to quickly navigate to folders or lenses.

System Settings

The system settings menu has gotten some helpful changes in Ubuntu 12.04.

The system settings menu has gotten a few tweaks. Appearance is the new name for the User Interface icon. There are also dividers and category names on the system settings menu. Overall the changes probably make the system settings menu slightly more intuitive and appealing to most users.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
FreeCell Solitaire
Mahjongg Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Document Viewer
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy
Firefox
Gwibber
Remmina
Thunderbird
Transmission

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Rhythmbox
Sound Recorder

Office
Document Viewer
LibreOffice
The Ubuntu Software Center
If you’re new to Ubuntu, you can access the Software Center by clicking the icon on the Dash. Using the Software Center is very easy. Just click the category of software you’re interested in, and you can begin browsing. Or type in an application name in the search box at the top right of the screen.

Once you find an application, you can click on it to see screenshots and user star ratings. You can also read comments from other users. Note that you can change the order of user reviews by Newest or Most Helpful. The application page also contains information about the size of the application, as well as optional addons you can also install.

The Ubuntu Software Center

You’ll find thousands and thousands of different applications in the Software Center.

Adding & Removing Software
Adding or removing software is quite easy. Just find the application you want to add, then click the Install button (or the remove button if it’s already installed and you want to get rid of it). A menu will pop up asking you for your password to begin the install. Once you’ve done that, you can watch the progress indicator as your application is downloaded.

VLC in the Ubuntu Software Center

Top notch apps like the VLC media player are available in the Software Center.

Software Center Changes in Ubuntu 12.04
The Ubuntu Software Center has some improvements added to it, here’s a brief list:

PayPal payment is now supported
Users can opt-in to personalized recommendations
Language support packages are installed automatically
Application sharing with friends via Web Directory
Improved startup time and responsiveness

PayPal users will be happy since they can now  use PayPal to purchase items in the Software Center. If you are looking for software to buy, just click the triangle next to All Software and then select the For Purchase option. You’ll see a list of commercial software you buy right from the Software Center. I like that users have this option, and hopefully PayPal will facilitate developers being able to profit from their software.

To opt-in to recommendations, just click the button at the bottom of the Software Center. Privacy paranoids should note that this means that an anonymous list of software will be sent to Canonical sometimes.

Software Center Recommendations Button

Click the recommendations button to opt-in to personalized software recommendations.

I can’t say I noticed a significant improvement in the responsiveness or startup time of the Ubuntu Software Center. However, it was never really slow starting up for me or while I was using it. So I didn’t have much to complain about before, and I still don’t. Your mileage may vary, however. I’d be interested in knowing if you noticed any significant difference in the Software Center’s performance on your system. Please share your experience in the comments.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t notice much to complain about in Ubuntu 12.04. The install was easy as it always is with Ubuntu, and everything else worked well for me.

If you ran into any significant issues, please take a moment to share them in the comments. Somebody else might have encountered the same thing, and could have some ideas to help you.

Here’s a list of known issues from the release notes:

Boot, Installation and Post-Installation

  • [Dell Studio XPS 1340,Alienware m17x] Kernel panic and hang on boot due to the ite-cir driver. A patch has been sent upstream and a test kernel is referenced in the bug report. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (984387)
  • When closing the lid on a Unibody Macbook, the screen interacts with the touchpad. This can cause spurious gestures and clicks, and potentially lead to corrupted input driver state if the laptop suspends. To work around the issue, remove and reload the kernel module after resume by running:
    $ sudo rmmod bcm5974
    $ sudo modprobe bcm5974

    Note that this may disable some touchpad options, for example horizontal scrolling. These options can be re-enabled by visiting the Mouse and Touchpad settings. This is planned to be fixed in a post-release update (968845).

  • Importing of existing Windows user accounts fails in some cases. (987902)
  • Wubi (the Ubuntu installer for Windows) is not available as an option on the Ubuntu Desktop/DVD any more. Instead, it is now a separate download.

Upgrades

  • Aptitude does not work on 64-bit systems without disabling multiarch in /etc/dpkg/dpkg.cfg.d/multiarch . (831768)
  • If you have i386 packages installed on an amd64 system in Ubuntu 11.10, it is strongly recommended that you install the versions of apt and dpkg from oneiric-updates before upgrading. A number of multiarch-affecting upgrade issues have been fixed in those versions. (850264902603)
  • In some cases update-manager might appear to hang indefinitely. In that case, open the expander at the bottom and check if there is a debconf question which needs to be answered. (979661)
  • Upgrades from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS to 12.04 LTS do not work using the alternate CD or the server CD as a package repository. It is recommended that users running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS wait for the 12.04.1 LTS point release, scheduled for July, before upgrading. (988941)

Kernel

  • On ARM omap images, the networking support for the Beagle XM board is broken (838200)
  • [Dell Studio XPS 1340,Alienware m17x] Kernel panic and hang on boot due to the ite-cir driver. A patch has been sent upstream and a test kernel is referenced in the bug report. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (984387)
  • Missing support for Sentelic touchpad in Asus K53U notebook. Patches have been backported and will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (969334)
  • Missing support for BCM20702A0 Broadcom bluetooth device [0489:e042]. A patch has been sent upstream. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (980965)
  • Buffer overflows in comedi driver. Patches have been backported from upstream and a test kernel is referenced in the bug report. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (981234)
  • Intel gma 4500mhd external monitor suffers from a scrambled picture. A patches has been backported from upstream. The fix will be immediately available as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (796030)
  • Kernel Oops – BUG: unable to handle kernel paging request; RIP: nfs_have_delegation+0x9/0x40 [nfs]. Some users attempting to run NFS clients on 12.04 appear to be affected. A test kernel is referenced from the bug report. Patches have been backported from upstream and will be immediately available in a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (974664)
  • Patches from upstream stable v3.2.15 and v3.2.16 will undergo a baking period in the precise-proposed pocket during the first kernel SRU cycle. They will then be released as a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket approximately 3 weeks after 12.04 releases. (981162987337)
  • hid-logitech-dj driver missing from the installer. It has been added to the d-i input-modules udeb and will be included in the 12.04.1 point release. (975198)
  • rtl8187 driver missing from the installer. It has been added to the d-i nic-usb-modules udeb and will be included in the 12.04.1 point release. (971719)
  • eGalaxis Touchscreen Driver does not work. Patches have been backported from upstream and will be immediately available in a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (913164)
  • ATI/radeon framebuffers on PowerPC only enabled as modules and not built in. This results in issues such as booting to a command prompt, loss of tty consoles, and loss of suspend. A patch to build these in have been applied and will be immediately available in a kernel update from the precise-updates pocket following 12.04’s release. (949288)
  • On systems with an ATI Radeon 9200 graphics card the system will boot to a black screen. As a work around edit the kernel command line in the boot loader and add “nomodeset”. (725580)
  • Fujitsu Siemens Amilo M 7400 and Maxdata 7000DX wireless RF kill handling triggers a kernel panic preventing wireless from operating correctly. This may be worked around by editing your kernel command line and adding “noexec=off”. (979253)
  • Beagle XM systems which are capable of running at 1GHZ will be initialised at 800MHZ leading to slower than optimal performance. (771537)
  • Some EFI systems fail to boot in EFI mode, BIOS mode is advised in these situations. (721576)

Desktop Interface

  • When using the LiveCD in certain languages such as French and choosing “Try Ubuntu” at the prompt, the keyboard will be brought up with the US keyboard map instead of the correct one for the chosen language. To avoid this bug, users can press any key at the very first splash screen and select their language here instead. (985065)

Please install available updates to ensure that the issues below will be fixed on your system.

  • Unity Dash (opened via the “Ubuntu” button in the top of the Launcher, or after pressing the <Super> key) may appear sluggish or slow to respond. This is caused by excessive redrawing of the screen contents in some circumstances. (980924)
  • Unity Launcher. If an application is pinned and then unpinned from the Unity Launcher using right-click->Un/Lock to Launcher repeatedly the application may vanish from the Launcher. It is necessary to log out and login again. This relates to an application monitoring framework called “Bamf” (978401)
  • Window titlebars do not update on ATI graphics hardware with the “fglrx” driver. A solution to this problem will be delivered in an update. (770283)
  • On some NVidia cards, when using the proprietary driver, moving windows and other large screen updates causes some tearing. (600178)

Desktop Applications

  • The mail client Evolution may delete folders and their contents as they are renamed or moved around in IMAP (and IMAP+) accounts. It is recommended to copy folders and contents before attempting to move or rename them. (957341)

I noted earlier that I didn’t want to review Unity, but if you want an easy way to customize Unity then check out MyUnity. It’s free in the Ubuntu Software Center. You can easily customize Unity in various ways. It’s something worth checking out if you find Unity’s default configuration not to your liking.

MyUnity in the Software Center

MyUnity can be downloaded from the Software Center.

MyUnity Font Menu

MyUnity lets you customize Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page, documentation, paid support services, training courses, and community support.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Ubuntu 12.04 is definitely worth an upgrade if you’re running an earlier version.

Unity is finally coming into its own in this release, plus there are other enhancements that make upgrading worthwhile. Ubuntu is getting better and better with each release. I was one of the Unity skeptics initially, but I’ve come to accept it as part of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 12.04 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu 12.04
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com/
Price: Free
Pros: New Video Lens; HUD; Software Center enhancements.
Cons: Rhythymbox is the new music player and might not appeal to all users.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

Ubuntu 11.10

Yet another Ubuntu release is upon us. This time around it’s Oneiric Ocelot (Ubuntu 11.10). Canonical, as you may already know, tends to name its release after various kinds of animals. The ocelot is a dwarf leopard that dwells in South and Central America and Mexico. The other part of the name is the word “oneiric” which essentially means “relating to dreams” according to the Merrian-Webster dictionary.

Here’s a little background about the ocelot for those who are wondering about the name of this Ubuntu release:

The ocelot is mostly nocturnal and very territorial. It will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death, in territorial disputes. In addition, the cat marks its territory with urine. Like most felines, it is solitary, usually meeting only to mate. However, during the day it rests in trees or other dense foliage, and will occasionally share its spot with another ocelot of the same sex. Males occupy territories of 3.5 to 46 square kilometers (1.4 to 18 sq mi), while females occupy smaller, non-overlapping territories of 0.8 to 15 square kilometers (0.31 to 5.8 sq mi). Territories are marked by urine spraying and by leaving feces in prominent locations, sometimes favoring particular latrine sites.[9]

So apparently Canonical decided to name this release after a cat that dreams and pees a lot. Were they trying to send some sort of message? Interesting, I wonder if this decision was made by a particular individual or some sort of committee? Some have said that Canonical is copying Apple too much (Lion anybody?) and perhaps they have a point or two in that regard. Aaah well, it is what it is.

Ocelot

Ocelot

The cute name and the ocelot’s territorial pissings aside, there are many people who have been waiting for the release of Oneiric Ocelot. The last release of Ubuntu was quite controversial in some respects because of the Unity desktop. This time around Canonical has made some tweaks to Unity that might provide a potentially better experience. We’ll find out in this review if that’s true or not.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

New releases of compiz and Unity
New Alt+Tab switcher
Places are now called Lenses
Dash has a music lens that uses Banshee to search your music
Launchers and Panel promise better performance
Ubuntu Mono and Ubuntu Condensed have been added to the Ubuntu Font Family
Unity 2D shares more code with Unity and contains nearly completed accessibility support features
Ubuntu Software Center 5.0
OneConf lets you keep installed applications in sync across multiple computers
DVD size has been shrunk to 1.5 GB
Thunderbird is the default email client
Deja Dup is the default backup tool
Gwibber has been updated
LightDM is the login manager
Synaptic and Pitivi are not installed by default (but they are available in Software Center)
Linux kernel 3.0.0-12.20
Ubuntu One music collections can now stream to iOS and Android devices
Multiarch support for installing 32-bit application and library packages on 64-bit systems
Firefox 7 included as default browser
LibreOffice 3.4

Let’s jump into some of these new features in no particular order.

The multiarch support means that those running 64-bit systems will have access to a wider range of 32-bit applications and libraries. Not every application has to be 64-bit to be useful and so this release of Ubuntu should be particularly pleasing to those running 64-bit systems.

I’ll talk about the Ubuntu Software Center 5.0 in the software section of the review. Suffice to say that it’s had a significant overhaul that should make it a much better experience than it has been in the past.

The new improvements to Unity are welcome and appreciated. Unity 2D is nearly on par with the 3D accelerated version. The entire Unity experience has gotten significantly better in this release. And please note that I have not exactly been a fan of Unity in the past. I found it to be significantly more usable than in the past though I still am not sure I’d want to use it on a day-to-day basis. This time around though Unity feels much more…livable. I suspect that if I used it long enough I *might* actually come to like it.

Current users of Unity will note that it feels faster than the last release and it seems much more consistent than it did previously. I suspect that some of those who have been hesitating about Unity might now be swayed by the quality improvements in this release. I make no promises but if you’ve been skeptical of Unity you might want to give it another look.

The performance of the Panel and Launchers has been improved and is definitely noticeable. I never complain when the performance of something increases so I’m certainly not going to do that now. Kudos to Canonical for speeding them up.

Gwibber

Gwibber

LightDM is a very attractive login manager (see the screenshot in the Login/Desktop section of the review). While a new login manager isn’t earth-shattering news, it goes along with the rest of the improvements of this release in terms of polish. Little things like this help provide an overall better user experience when you add them all up.

The change to Thunderbird being the default email client matters very little to me. I stopped using local email clients and have mostly gone with web-based mail for a long time now. So I won’t be using Thunderbird or any other local email client any time soon. But your mileage may vary and some users might enjoy Thunderbird.

Deja Dup adds some real value by letting you back up locally or online via Ubuntu One. You get 5GB free with Ubuntu One and that’s a good start for most people to use for backups. True, it will cost you some money if you want more space but sometimes additional storage is worth paying for if you want to use online backups.

Deja Dup

Deja Dup

Oneconf is an excellent addition that should make it quite comfortable for anyone who wants to keep their apps in sync across multiple computers. I like anything that saves me the time and headache of having to manage things like that manually.

The absence of Pitivi and Synaptic are not particularly bothersome. You can easily install them later if you find yourself missing them.

Firefox 7 is now the default browser for Ubuntu 11.10. Don’t like Firefox 7? Well wait a few days and I’m sure Mozilla will release Firefox 8, 9, 10, etc. Ha, ha. Just kidding.

LibreOffice 3.4 should easily meet the needs of most desktop office suite users.

Gwibber has a new interface based on the latest GNOME technologies.

Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

1 GHz Cpu (x86 processor (Pentium 4 or better))
1 Gb Ram (system memory)
15 Gb of hard-drive space (or usb-stick, memory-card or external drive but see LiveCd for an alternative approach)
800 by 600 screen resolution
Either a Cd/Dvd-drive or a Usb-port for the installer media
Internet access is helpful

Installation
The downloadable ISO file comes in a 1.8GB version (i386), or a 1.9GB version (AMD64). So it doesn’t take very long to download if you’re on a reasonably fast connection.

The Ubuntu installer is as slick as ever. I had no problems doing my install; even those who are totally new to Linux should be able to install Ubuntu 11.10.

When you first boot into Ubuntu 11.10, you’re given the option of trying it before installing. I decided to skip the live desktop (been there, done that a zillion times) and just went with the desktop install right off the bat. If you are totally new to Ubuntu then by all means try it first. You can do a full install right from the live desktop.

The installer walks you through each step of putting Ubuntu 11.10 on your system.

Welcome

Welcome

You can watch a slideshow of features while your install is completed. Please note that at one point you can opt to install updates and third party software such as flash while you’re install happens. I highly recommend doing this because it will save you time. Yes, the install will be a little longer but you won’t have bother with it later on.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Login
Here’s what the new login screen looks like:

Login

Login

As you can tell from the screenshot, it’s quite pretty. I suppose some might dismiss it as fluff but I think it’s rather sharp looking.

The Desktop
The Unity desktop, as I noted before, has had some significant changes done to it and is finally coming into its own. While I still lean toward Xubuntu, I could see myself getting quite comfortable with Unity the more I used it. In this release it has a way of growing on you that I did not expect since I was quite turned off by it in Ubuntu 11.04.

Note that the Dash appears at the top of the launcher. Click it and you’ll see the search box popup, along with commonly used applications and application categories. This makes using the Dash easier and faster.

Note that there are icons (lenses) at the bottom of the Dash screen that let you search Applications, Music, Files and Folders, etc. If you aren’t familiar with Lenses, be sure to read this page on Ubuntu’s Wiki. There are also some neat Lenses you might want to check out that go beyond the default ones that come with Ubuntu 11.10.

If you click the More Apps icon you’ll see Most Frequently Used, Installed, Apps Available for Download and also application category buttons on the right side of the screen. If you click one of the category buttons you’ll see a list of installed apps as well as a list of some apps in that category that you can download. I rather like the inclusion of app “suggestions” to download. It makes it easier to surface potentially useful apps that Ubuntu newbies might not even know exist.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, Unity 2D has been improved. So even if you aren’t running hardware that can support the full Unity experience, you’ll still have a good looking and highly usable desktop. The screenshots below are of Unity 2D.

Desktop

Desktop

Dash 1

Dash 1

Dash 2

Dash 2

One thing that may irritate some users is the change to menu buttons. If the window is maximized you won’t see menu buttons in the upper left unless you hover the mouse over them. I’m on the fence on this change. I suppose it makes things neater, but it also means you have to focus on hovering for a second to click on the buttons. Perhaps others won’t really care though? Maybe it’s a question of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

Menu Buttons

Menu Buttons

The Power Menu now lets you shutdown and do all the usual stuff you need to do.

Power Menu

Power Menu

Themes & Wallpaper
Ubuntu 11.10 comes with a decent and rather attractive set of wallpapers. You can access themes right from the same menu, so it’s quite convenient to change both at the same time.

Themes & Wallpaper

Themes & Wallpaper

System Settings

Here’s a look at the System Settings menu. Everything you’d expect to be there is and it gives you a good amount of control of your Ubuntu 11.10 system.

System Settings

System Settings

Bundled Software in Ubuntu 11.10

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
FreeCell Solitaire
gbrainy
Mahjongg

Graphics
Document Viewer
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Empathy
Firefox
Gwibber Social Client

Multimedia
Banshee Media Player
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Ubuntu Software Center has had a significant overhaul. Top rated applications are now very visible when you first open the Software Center. There’s also a banner at the top that features a particular application. Application categories are also prominent on the left side of the screen.

You can also easily see your installed software by clicking the icon at the top of the Software Center. The history screen lets you see All Changes, Installations, Updates and Removals.

Application list views can be sorted by Name, Top Rated, Relevance or Newest First. I particularly love sorting based on Top Rated as it helps speed up the finding of the best applications by utilizing the combined collective knowledge and experience of all Software Center users.

I also noticed that there is a What’s New section on the main view as well as I write this review. It’s a nice way of surfacing new apps that users might not otherwise know about.

The Software Center has come a long way from where it started and I’m glad to see such progress. No, it’s not perfect but it keeps getting better and better as time goes by.

Software Center All

Software Center Main View

Software Center Installed

Software Center Installed

Software Center Category

Software Center Category

Software Center History

Software Center History

Adding & Removing Software
It’s easy to add or remove software. To add just click the Install button in Software Center. Click the Remove button if it’s something you want to get rid of from your system.

Installing VLC

Install VLC

You can click the More Info button when viewing an application in list view if you want to know more about a particular application. More Info will take you to another page that will let you view add ons, comments by other users, version number, total size, etc. It’s a good way to find out more about an application.

K3B More Info

K3B More Info

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
As I noted in the install section, I opted to have third party software and updates installed during the installation. So I had no problems running flash based videos in Ubuntu 11.10. Flash performance seemed pretty good in Firefox 7.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
The selection of multimedia applications that are installed by default is very bare bones. You get Banshee, Brasero Disc Burner, Movie Player and Sound Recorder.

I strongly suggest browsing the Software Center and sorting multimedia applications by Top Rated to snag some really good additional multimedia software. There’s quite a bit available in the Software Center and sorting by Top Rated will bring most of the best stuff right to the surface for easy downloading and installing on your Ubuntu 11.10 system.

VLC Media Player pops up right at the top of the list when you use Top Rated sorting. It’s an excellent program and highly recommended.

Multimedia Apps

Multimedia Apps (Sorted by Top Rated)

Problems & Headaches
For some strange reason, I was not able to authorize my Twitter account while using Gwibber. I’m not sure what the problem was, but I had no problems setting up Facebook in Gwibber. I don’t count this as much of a big deal since I don’t tweet all that much anyway. But perhaps others out there have noticed it too? Or was it just a temporary Twitter burp? Let me know in the comments if you had a similar problem.

Beyond that I didn’t find very much to complain about in Ubuntu 11.10. I didn’t come across any noticeable bugs or other aggravations. Things ran relatively speedy and everything seemed pretty stable.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page. You’ll find documentation, a technical answers system, training courses, paid support services and even free community support on that page. So bookmark it in case you have problems with Ubuntu 11.10.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Ubuntu 11.10 is a more polished release than 11.04. Unity is finally beginning to come into its own and has become significantly more usable. Canonical has made up for some of Unity’s initial headaches and these efforts may bring back some of the Ubuntu users who have fled to other Ubuntu spins such as Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

The Software Center upgrade also provides some real value in this release. It’s gotten to be a much better experience as it has evolved and it should be a fairly comfortable tool for even those totally new to Linux.

Ubuntu 11.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users. Those currently running Ubuntu 11.04 should definitely consider an upgrade to this release. At the very least it’s worth burning to a DVD and trying out the live desktop environment to see if it floats your boat.

If you still aren’t sure about Ubuntu 11.10 and you aren’t willing to download and burn a DVD, head over to the web based demo. You can kick Ubuntu’s tires a bit and poke around right from the comfort of your browser. You can also take a short online tour of Ubuntu 11.10.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu 11.10
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com
Price: Free
Pros: Updated Software Center and new releases of compiz and Unity. 32-bit applications & libraries can now run on 64-bit machines. Deja Dup can be used to backup locally or online via Ubuntu One. Contains Linux kernel 3.0 and GNOME 3.2 components.
Cons: Confirmed Unity haters might still want to stick with a different distro or a different Ubuntu spin. Default multimedia application selection leaves a little bit to be desired.
Suitable For:  Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Ubuntu 11.04

Ubuntu’s latest release (code named Natty Narwhal) is finally out and I grabbed a copy of it to check it out. Canonical has gotten some flack for this release since it uses Unity as the default desktop instead of the usual GNOME interface. Some users seem to love it and others have vowed to switch away from Ubuntu and find some other distribution as their main desktop Linux.

Only time will tell if Unity brings in more Ubuntu users than it drives away. The jury is still out on that one and will be for quite some time, but I shared some of my thoughts a while back in a column on EOL called “Unity: Ubuntu’s Descent Into Madness!

Desktop

The Ubuntu 11.04 Unity Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Unity interface
Launcher
Dash
Workspaces
Banshee replaces Rhythmbox
LibreOffice replaces OpenOffice
Ubuntu Software Centers contains user ratings & reviews
Kernel 2.6.38
Firefox 4.0

The Unity interface is Canonical’s attempt to bring a more netbook-like look and feel to Ubuntu. The classic GNOME interface is still available via the login screen though, so you can opt out of Unity any time you like.

The launcher lets you access such things as your home folder, Firefox, LibreOffice, the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu One, updates, workspaces and applications.

Launcher

Launcher

Click the Ubuntu logo in the top-left to access the dash. The dash lets you access applications, search, email and other frequently used features.

Dash

Dash

Workspaces is reminiscent of Mac OSX’s “Spaces” feature and lets you easily access multiple desktops.

Workspaces

Workspaces

I’m quite happy to see that LibreOffice has replaced OpenOffice. I’ve been waiting for this and kudos for Canonical for finally getting it done. It’s the best thing that they could do for those who need an office suite. I’m rather neutral on Banshee replacing Rythymbox though, but I’m sure there are some who will appreciate it.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice Writer

I’m also very happy indeed that the Software Center now contains user reviews and ratings. It’s always helpful to see what other users think of an application before I bother downloading and installing it. Sometimes it can help you avoid stinker applications that aren’t worth installing on your system.

Software Center Reviews

Software Center Reviews

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium 4, 1GHz system is the minimum recommended for a desktop system.

Table 3.2. Recommended Minimum System Requirements

Install Type RAM (minimal) RAM (recommended) Hard Drive
No desktop 64 megabytes 256 megabytes 1 gigabyte
With Desktop 64 megabytes 512 megabytes 5 gigabytes

Installation
The installation routine is as easy as ever with Ubuntu 11.04. You shouldn’t have a problem even if you’ve never installed Ubuntu before. Ubuntu 11.04 is a Live CD distro so you can check it out without having to actually install it and you can even upgrade your earlier version of Ubuntu to 11.04 from the Live CD.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

One thing to bear in mind is that Unity requires a certain level of hardware access to run. If try to install it in VirtualBox it will default to the classic GNOME desktop instead. You’ll need to install the Guest Additions in order for Unity to run properly. This is very easy and just takes a couple of minutes.

Guest Additions Install

VirtualBox Guest Additions Install

Login
Here’s what the login screen looks like:

Login

Login

The Desktop
As noted at the beginning of the review, this release comes with the new Unity desktop interface. Unity is significantly different than the GNOME interface and it takes some getting used to if you haven’t used it before. I share my thoughts about the Unity interface in the Final Thoughts section of the review so I’ll hold off on that now. Suffice to say that it’s probably best described as a “love it or hate it” kind of thing. If you aren’t familiar with it, you might want to browse Ubuntu’s Unity guide to learn more about how it works.

If you prefer you can opt to use the “classic” GNOME interface by choosing it while on the login screen.

As I mentioned earlier (I’ll reiterate for those of you who skipped right to this section of the review) when you first boot into Unity you’ll notice that there’s a dock-like bar called the launcher to the left of the screen. From here, you can access your home folder, Firefox, LibreOffice applications, the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu One, Update Manager, the Workspace Switcher, Applications, files and folders, and the trash. The desktop itself is totally uncluttered and free of annoying icons.

Desktop

Desktop

To browse applications, click the Applications icon and you’ll see a menu pop up with the Most Frequently Used, Installed and Apps Available for Download. Clicking the All Applications drop down menu will let you browse applications via category. This is quite different than the GNOME interface and some users might find it somewhat annoying to have an extra step to access a list of applications. Beauty though is, as they say, in the eye of the beholder.

And don’t forget that you can also just right-click the applications icon on the launcher to pull up a complete list of application categories.

Browse Applications

Browse Applications

Application Icon

Application Icon

Themes

Ambiance is the default theme in Ubuntu 11.04 but you can choose from seven other themes or get more online.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper

There are 21 different backgrounds available, and some of them are quite cool. More are available online if nothing floats your boat in the default selection.

Backgrounds

Backgrounds

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
gbrainy
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Shotwell Photo Manager
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy IM
Firefox
Gwibber
Remote Desktop Viewer

Multimedia
Banshee Media Player
Brasero
Movie Player
Pitivi

Office
LibreOffice
Evolution Mail and Calendar

Software Management
The Ubuntu Software Center contains more than 33,000 applications split into categories. You can also search for applications or browse the Featured and What’s New sections.

Software Center

Software Center

 

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application in the Ubuntu Software Center and click the Install or Remove button. You can also click the More Info button to get more information about an application before installing it. This includes helpful ratings & comments by other users so if you aren’t sure if an application is worth bothering with, read what others have to say about it.

Add Software 1

Add Software 1

Add Software 2

Add Software 2

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
Flash is not installed by default unless you choose to have third party software added during the 2nd install step (see the Install 2 image on the install page or the image gallery page). I opted not to since I wanted to see the default selection of software without anything being added to it. If you are going to be viewing flash videos then it makes sense to just have the third party stuff added when you install Ubuntu 11.04.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications

Ubuntu 11.04 comes with a very modest selection of multimedia software including Banshee, Brasero Disc Burner, Movie Player and the Pitivi Video Editor. However, there are about 315 multimedia applications available in the Ubuntu Software Center. So chances are you will be able to find what you are looking for there even if the default selection is rather sparse.

Multimedia Category

Multimedia Category

Banshee

Banshee

Problems & Headaches
One of the annoying things about the launcher is that it’s not very configurable right now. Beginners might not notice or even care about that, but more advanced users could find it very annoying. I hope that Canonical builds in some customization options for the launcher in the next release of Ubuntu.

My experience with Ubuntu 11.04 was quite good in terms of performance and problems. I didn’t run into any noticeable instability, slowdown or other burps while using it.

The only thing that slowed me down briefly was adding the Guest Additions to get Unity to run in VirtualBox. Beyond that, my experience was very positive. This isn’t surprising though, Ubuntu has usually run well for me so I didn’t expect to run into much in the way of headaches with this release. Your mileage may vary, however, so please take a moment to share any problems (and fixes) you might have encountered so that others can benefit from your experience.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page for documentation, answers, training courses and free community support.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Ubuntu 11.04 is probably best described as a “love it or leave it” type of distro. If you like Unity then chances are you will really love Ubuntu 11.04. However, if you are one of those who dislikes Unity then it might be time to leave Ubuntu and find another distribution for your desktop use.

I’m in the latter category as I find Unity to be suffocating and unnecessary. For me it adds little value and seems to be in the way most of the time; so I would definitely not use Ubuntu 11.04 as one of my regular distros. I tried to like it but I just couldn’t warm up to it. Some have called it very “Mac-like” but, oddly, Mac OS X’s interface doesn’t seem to annoy me as much as Unity’s. Say what you will about Apple (and there’s plenty to say, pro and con) but they don’t seem to have made Mac OS X into an annoying experience the way that Unity feels to me.

Perhaps I’m just a dinosaur? Maybe netbook type interfaces will be the wave of the future in all desktop operating systems. If so then I suspect I’ll be one of the luddites booting into “classic” interfaces or simply opting to use a distro with a slimmed down desktop environment instead. Eye candy and “coolness” can sometimes be more trouble than they are worth so if feeling that way makes me a fossil then so be it. If I wanted a netbook interface, I’d buy a netbook instead of using a desktop computer.

Your mileage may vary, however, so I urge you to keep an open mind and give Ubuntu 11.04 a shot and see if you like it. I did not penalize Ubuntu 11.04 for Unity in the scoring below. Despite my own dislike of it, I know that there are some folks out there who might really like it and more power to them if they do. It’s just not my cup of tea.

If you need an alternative then I’d consider Linux Mint, Bodhi or one of the many other Ubuntu derivatives that don’t use Unity as their desktop environment. Of course you could also stick with Ubuntu 11.04 and simply use the classic GNOME interface instead. You can choose that on the login screen if you like.

Ubuntu 11.04 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users. Beginners should be aware that Unity is significantly different than previous Ubuntu desktops and should bear that in mind accordingly if they decide to try out Ubuntu 11.04.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu 11.04
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com/
Price: Free
Pros: New Unity interface; user ratings and reviews in the Software Center; easy install routine that includes the ability to upgrade from the Live CD.
Cons: Unity interface is a “love it or hate it” affair that will either bring people to Ubuntu or drive them away, the jury is still out on that and we won’t know for a while which way things will go.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Ubuntu 10.10

It seems like just yesterday that Ubuntu Linux 10.04 was released, but here we are and Ubuntu 10.10 has just been released. Wow! How time flies!

There has been some controversy over this release, with some folks saying that Canonical’s six-month release cycle is too often and that there aren’t enough things in this release to warrant an upgrade.

The Ubuntu 10.10 Live CD desktop.

The Ubuntu 10.10 Live CD desktop.

I politely disagree with that assessment, and I’ll show you why in this review. Ubuntu 10.10 is a worthwhile though not overwhelmingly impressive release; it’s worth considering as an upgrade if you are already running an earlier version of Ubuntu. It’s also certainly worth looking at if you are new to Ubuntu and are thinking about using it as your desktop operating system.

What’s New In This Release

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

The GNOME base platform has been updated to the current 2.32 versions. This particularly includes the new dconf and gsettings API.

Evolution was updated to the 2.30 version, which operates much faster compared to the version in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

The Sound Indicator has been enhanced to include music player controls.

The boot process is cleaner and faster.

New themes, new icons, and new wallpaper bring a dramatically updated look and feel to Ubuntu.

Shotwell has replaced F-Spot as the default photo manager.

Gwibber has been updated to support the recent change in Twitter’s authentication system, as well as changing the back end storage to improve performance.

The Sound Indicator has been enhanced to include music player controls.

The Ubuntu Software Center has an updated look and feel, including the new “Featured” and “What’s New” views for showcasing applications, an improved package description view, and a “For Purchase” software category has been added. You can also now easily access your package installation history too.

Ubuntu One: Polished desktop integration with new sign up and sign in process. Tighter integration with Ubuntu SSO. Nautilus enhancements for managing folder sync preferences. Faster file sync speed. Share links to music within the Ubuntu One Music Store.

The Ubuntu font has been officially released.

I’m happy to see the update to GNOME 2.32. It goes beyond the scope of this review to delve into changes to GNOME in 2.32, but here’s a link that will give you an overview of the goodies.

I’m glad that Gwibber has been changed to match Twitter’s new authentication system. If you use Gwibber you shouldn’t have a problem tweeting in this release.

The speed increase to Evolution is certainly a welcome development in this release of Ubuntu. These days I generally prefer webmail to local email, but I know a lot of people who still use Evolution. So it’s good to see a significant performance increase available for Evolution users.

Shotwell is arguably better than F-Spot as a photo manager. I can’t say that I’m wowed by either of them, but I don’t do a lot with photos so that’s probably why. I suspect we’ll hear some moaning and groaning from F-Spot fans about this decision though. Not to worry, you can get F-Spot in the Ubuntu Software Center so it’s still available.

I’ll cover the Software Center changes in the software section of the review, and I’ll also cover the boot process, installer tweaks and desktop stuff in those sections.

I’m happy to see that Ubuntu One has gotten some polish. I wasn’t overwhelmed by it when I first looked at it, but Canonical seems determined to get it right. Faster file sync speed is absolutely welcome and should make Ubuntu One users very happy indeed.


It’s also nice to see Ubuntu One better integrated with the desktop. If you right-click on a folder in your Home directory, you’ll see Ubuntu One on the menu selection. You can opt to have the folder synchronized via Ubuntu One. I think this is going to make Ubuntu One much more appealing to some users; it makes it very easy to pick and choose the folders you want to keep synchronized.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Ubuntu 10.10:

700 MHz x86 processor
256 MB RAM
3 GB disk space
Graphics card capable of 1024 x 768 resolution
Sound card
Network or Internet connection

Installation
The install routine has been tweaked in this release, and it’s very slick! You’ll notice it right from the beginning. This is really about as easy as it gets in terms of installing Linux.

After you choose your language, you’ll see a new menu that suggests that you have enough disk space, an internet connection and a power source. This menu also gives you the option of downloading updates during the install and also installing third party software. I loved being able to download updates during the install, it has the potential to speed things up considerably. Partitioning the disk is also quite easy in this release, and should help even total Linux newbies glide right through an install.

You can view a slideshow while the install completes. Moving through the slides can be done manually, so you can take your time and view each slide for as long as the install continues. I hope other distros steal this idea from Canonical; it’s a great way of doing it. The slideshows in other distros that just run automatically, with no way to navigate back or forward to a particular slide, might cheat a user out of learning about a neat feature in a distro.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.


Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting & login screens look like.

The first screen you see lets you decide if you want to do an install or boot into the Live CD desktop. This is a very, very slick way of handling it rather than the typical bootsplash menu. I’d like to see other distros do something similar.

The boot process is supposed to be faster but, frankly, I did not notice much of a difference. I’m somewhat jaded on this though, since I look at so many different distros. Unless a distro’s boot process is really slow, I don’t tend to even notice how long it takes to boot. Your mileage may vary considerably though, depending on your hardware.


The Desktop

The desktop has new wallpaper, a new font and new icons.

The Ubuntu font is attractive and adds to the appeal of this release. It’s not the kind of new feature that is going to get anybody to switch to Ubuntu from another distro, but it’s nice to have it. Canonical deserves a pat on the back for developing it in the first place.

Ambiance is still the default theme; you might remember it from Ubuntu 10.04. There have been a number of tweaks to this theme, with the end result making it even more attractive than it was in 10.04.

The wallpaper change is sort of okay; it looks similar enough to the last wallpaper that I can’t see a huge difference. It’s still very Mac-like.

If the Mac-ish wallpaper bothers you, right-click the desktop and you can switch it easily enough. There are a number of attractive alternatives available by default (about 19), and more can be had online. Most of these are new and should please most users, some of them are absolutely gorgeous!

Speaking of Ubuntu being Mac-like, the title bar buttons are still on the left. I know that this rankles people but there it is. I don’t see Canonical changing it any time soon. You can, of course, simply change the theme and that will shift the buttons, but that’s not helpful if you enjoy using the Ambiance theme. It would be nice if Canonical took a hint from Linux Mint and allowed folks to move the buttons to whichever side they want.

The desktop itself is thankfully uncluttered; you will not find a giant load of icons all over it. Navigating the application menus is as easy as it was in 10.04.

The sound control in the panel now features music player controls, so you can more easily control Rhthymbox, for example.

The installed Ubuntu 10.10 desktop.

Admin Tools
One thing I like about Ubuntu is how clearly Preferences are separate from Administration. Click the System menu link in the top panel and choose Administration. You can access the following tools:

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games

AisleRiot Solitaire
gbrainy
Mahjongg
Mines
Quadrapassel

Graphics

OpenOffice.org Drawing
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet

Empathy IM
Evolution
Firefox
Gwibber
Remote Desktop Viewer
Terminal Server Client
Transmission BitTorrent Client

Multimedia

Brasero
Movie Player
Pitivi Video Editor
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder

Office

OpenOffice.org
Evolution
Dictionary

Software Management

As I noted at the beginning of the review, there are some notable changes to the Ubuntu Software Center including new Featured and What’s New lists on the front page of the Software Center. The Featured and What’s New menus will scroll through a list of software automatically (like a carousel). Or you can click the little dots under the current software selected and move to another page.

Note also that there is a link called For Purchase under the Get Software menu, where you can buy additional applications. There seemed to be only two applications listed there, Fluendo DVD Player and Rick’s Wallpapers. The Fluendo DVD Player sells for $24.95, not a cheap piece of software considering you can get free alternatives (see multimedia codecs link in the Multimedia & Problems section).

The screenshots below give you an overview of the Ubuntu Software Center.



Adding & Removing Software

Adding or removing software is very easy in the Software Center. Just find the application you want and click the Install or Remove buttons. You can also add additional software sources if you really want to, but I doubt most people will need to do that. There’s an enormous amount of software already available in the Ubuntu Software Center. I’d be surprised if you couldn’t find what you wanted in there already.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash

Flash is not installed by default, but you can get it in the Software Center or install it via the Plugin Finder. My usual Lady Gaga test video did not play the first time I tried it.


Multimedia Applications

Ubuntu 10.10 comes with a good selection of multimedia applications. Brasero, Movie Player, Rhythmbox and the Pitivi Video editor are all included.

After using Peppermint Ice and Peppermint OS One, I found myself missing links to web based multimedia like Hulu, etc. It would be nice if Ubuntu were more cloud-friendly when it comes to multimedia. The days of relying solely on local apps are pretty much over so Canonical might want to take a hint from the Peppermint distros in future releases.

If you find that the default selection of multimedia applications doesn’t cut it, hit the Software Center. There’s a ton of stuff in there and you should find everything you need. If you need additional codecs, see the instructions on the Ubuntu help site on how to install them.

Problems & Headaches

One of the obvious things missing in the software selection is GIMP or a replacement for GIMP. Shotwell is fine for a photo manager, but some sort of basic (and separate) image editing program should be included. As I noted in an earlier review, it’s a shame that something like Seashore (a light-weight image editor available for the Mac) isn’t also available for Linux. Why nobody has taken GIMP and done a “GIMP Light” version, I don’t know. Just focus on basic image editing (outside of just photo management) and you’d have a real winner. As it stands now, something is still missing in the Graphics applications menu. I hope that vacancy is filled soon.

Strangely enough, the Ubuntu site actually says that the GIMP is included with this release but it’s not. Yes, it’s available in the Software Center but it is not installed by default. The folks at Canonical might want to tweak the wording on their site that talks about included features and software. See the screenshot below.


The new Features and What’s New menus in the Software Center leave more than a little to be desired. Am I the only one who doesn’t like automatically scrolling lists of software? Frankly, I would prefer a non-scrolling list of featured & new software. I’m sure that some people will think that the way this was done is cool, but I’m not one of them. This strikes me as a possible example of coolness taking priority over a user’s preferences. There doesn’t seem to be a way to turn off the scrolling, unfortunately.

Beyond those two relatively minor quibbles, I had a good experience with Ubuntu 10.10. The distro seemed very stable and I didn’t see any application crashes or other headaches. It was also very fast and quite enjoyable to use.

Where To Get Help

Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu Documentation site, support page, and forums.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It

As I stated at the beginning of the review, I think Ubuntu 10.10 is a worthwhile update. It’s certainly worth upgrading if you are an existing Ubuntu user, and it’s worth considering if you haven’t tried Ubuntu yet. Remember that this is a Live CD distro, so if you aren’t familiar with Ubuntu then you can simply boot into the Live CD and try it without installing it.

If you aren’t satisfied with what Ubuntu 10.10 has to offer then you might want to sit tight and simply wait for Linux Mint 10. Linux Mint comes bundled with multimedia codecs and other goodies, so it’s worth waiting for if you want or need more in your desktop distro. This release, while it has its virtues, probably won’t convince users of other popular distros to switch to Ubuntu.

Ubuntu 10.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

Click to the next page to view the image gallery of Ubuntu 10.10 (33 screenshots).

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit Eye On Linux for additional Linux articles.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu Linux 10.10
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com
Price: Free
Pros: New Ubuntu font; updated software center; better desktop integration for Ubuntu One.
Cons: New “What’s New & Featured” software feature is annoying; Shotwell still isn’t a viable replacement for GIMP for image editing (beyond photos).
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: This release is a solid though not overwhelmingly impressive update to Ubuntu Linux. It’s worth an upgrade and it’s worth considering if are new to Ubuntu, but it probably won’t dazzle users of Linux Mint and other alternative distros.
Rating: 4/5

Ubuntu Satanic Edition 10.04 (Lucifer’s Legion)

It has been ages since I delved into the nightmarish and barbaric world of Ubuntu Satanic Edition. Much has changed since I first dared to install it back when I worked for ExtremeTech. Is Ubuntu Satanic Edition still as evil as it used to be? Find out in this review as I take you on a journey into the dark side of Ubuntu Linux. Together we’ll explore…the distro of the beast!

Before I get into the review, here’s my usual disclaimer about religious or mystical themed distros:

Desktop Linux Reviews does not endorse any particular religion or spirituality, nor does DLR endorse no religion or spirituality.

I have covered these kinds of distros in the past and will continue to do so. If reading about them is not your thing, please stop right now and go over to JimLynch.com You can read some of the excellent tech commentary and reviews available there (I know it’s excellent because I wrote all of it…heh).

I just wanted to put that out there for the folks that dislike the idea of DLR covering any kind of distro with religious or mystic themes to it. Okay, with that out of the way, on with our demonic review.

Launching Firefox will take you to hell on the web! (The Satanic Portal)

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a list of what’s new in Lucifer’s Legion:

Plymouth bootup theme with new Satanic logo
Wallpaper with new Satanic logo
GDM theme support
Revenge icon theme updated
New sataniconf helper script makes configuration easier

Please note that Ubuntu Satanic Edition is not an officially sanctioned derivative of Ubuntu. Since this release is based on Ubuntu 10.04, all of the new features in generic Ubuntu are now in its satanic counterpart. Here’s a brief list of the general new stuff found in Ubuntu itself, for my commentary on them please read my review of Ubuntu 10.04. I don’t want to regurgitate all of that again here.

F-Spot replaces the GIMP
PiTiVi video editor added
GNOME 2.30
New themes: Ambiance and Radiance
New wallpaper
Linux kernel 2.6.32
New nVidia hardware driver
Gwibber social media application
Faster boot time, with a different look and feel on the bootsplash screen
Ubuntu One adds contacts and bookmark sharing
Ubuntu One music store integrated into Rhythmbox
Ubuntu Software Center 2.0

 

This distro comes with plenty of additional evil wallpaper.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
The hardware requirements are the same as generic Ubuntu:

700 MHz x86 processor
256 MB RAM
3 GB disk space
Graphics card capable of 1024 x 768 resolution
Sound card
Network or Internet connection

Installation
The Ubuntu Satanic Edition 10.04 .iso file is about 731MB. This distro is a Live CD version, so you can actually just boot into it to test it rather than installing it on your hard disk. For this review, I installed it. If you’re already running Ubuntu and want to install it on your existing system, follow these instructions.

It uses the usual Ubuntu installer, which means it’s very easy and fast to install. Once the install begins, you’ll see the same slideshow that you see during the regular Ubuntu installation. I’m always glad to see that included since it does help provide useful information to Ubuntu newbies (even satanic newbies).

Booting & Login

Bootsplash
The bootsplash screen is essentially a satanic version of the new Ubuntu bootsplash screen (imagine that). The satanic version is more attractive than the generic Ubuntu logo though, since it comes complete with a diabolical pentagram.

Login Screen
The login screen comes with the satanic logo and flames. There’s also a creepy looking icon for the user and a computer graphic. At first, I thought the computer graphic on the login page was a toilet. However, a second look made me realize it was a computer. I don’t know why I thought it was a toilet at first. Maybe I needed a potty break while writing this review, I just don’t know. :whistle:


The Desktop
The Ubuntu Satanic Edition desktop looks like no other. The moment it loads, you know you are in for a delightfully devilish treat. The first things you notice are the blazing flames and the deliciously evil satanic logo (complete with a diabolical pentagram). Much has been made of Ubuntu’s new logos but, if you ask me, Ubuntu Satanic Edition is the champ when it comes to cool logos.

The desktop is pretty much clutter-free. The only thing you’ll find on it is a something called “The Distro of the Beast.” As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to be careful before clicking on it. After all, you can’t take this sort of thing lightly. I was afraid something truly scary would happen if I clicked on it…

After gathering my courage by taking a toke off my puffy (my e-cigarette), I clicked on the Distro of the Beast icon. The Totem Movie Player launched and I was treated to some outrageously evil heavy metal music. A song called “Shroudded In Darkness” by a band named StabWound (how appropriate!) began playing.

There was even a photo of a hot chick that appeared too. Woohoo! Well, okay, she didn’t do much for me since I usually swing the other way but I’m sure there are some guys out there that would go gaga over her and her super-hot, satanic boobies or whatever. It would be nice if the Ubuntu Satanic Edition developers would include a photo of a hot guy for the chicks and gay guys who might want to run this distro.

A diabolically hot chick looks longingly at you while some free metal blares from Totem.

One of the neat things I noticed is that there is a creepy, evil looking icon for Firefox in the top panel. I clicked it and was pleased to be taken to the Ubuntu Satanic Edition site. I thought that the Firefox icon was a nice and unexpected touch to this distro. There other delightfully demonic touches in this distro’s theme. For example, if you click Places in the panel then choose Computer, you’ll notice that there’s a pentagram on the file system icon. Was it necessary to put it there? Nope, but it sure does look cool and such things add to the flavor of Ubuntu Satanic Edition.

Themes
Obviously this distro uses a custom theme. You can switch to one of the usual ones by opening the Appearance menu; but why would you want to do that when the default theme is so cool?

Wallpaper
The default wallpaper is great, but there’s plenty more to choose from if you want a change. In fact, some of the alternate satanic wallpapers are actually (arguably) more diabolical than the default wallpaper. Evil, as we all know, is the eye of the beholder. So be sure to take a look around in the Backgrounds menu if you want some additional wallpaper.

The Ubuntu Satanic Edition desktop with the default wallpaper.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
gbrainy

Graphics
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy IM Client
Firefox
Gwibber Social Media Client
Remote Desktop Viewer
Terminal Server Client
Transmission

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Pitivi Video Editor
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder
The Distro of the Beast

Office
Dictionary

Software Management
The selection of software that comes with Ubuntu Satanic Edition 10.04 is relatively sparse. You won’t find an overwhelming amount of applications here, particularly if you need office applications. Fortunately, if you need more software you can click the Applications menu then choose Ubuntu Software Center.

I highly recommend clicking the orange “Featured Applications” button to get some of the more useful applications available in the Ubuntu Software Center (though you will have to search for OpenOffice.org, for some reason it’s not listed in the featured applications).

 

 

Adding & Removing Software
To add or remove software, just fire up the Ubuntu Software Center and click the Remove or Install buttons. There’s an enormous amount of software available in the Software Center, far more than most people would probably ever need.

Use the Software Center to add or remove applications.

 

Sound and Multimedia
I had no problem with sound in Ubuntu Satanic Edition. As soon as I started playing the bundled heavy metal music, I knew sound was working perfectly.

YouTube & Flash
I was pleased to note that flash is installed by default. I was able to play the eternally awesome video of “Rainbow in the Dark” by Ronnie James Dio. It looked and sounded great in Firefox. I think that somewhere Ronnie is smiling down on the Ubuntu Satanic Edition developers for bringing a little dark magic to Ubuntu Linux.

Flash is installed by default in Ubuntu Satanic Edition.

Problems & Headaches
How deliciously ironic that a distro branded as horrifically pestiferous actually turned out to be pretty much trouble-free. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me since it’s based on Ubuntu, but you’d think that some sort of Mephistophelian spirits could have taken control and caused at least a few problems of note. Alas, such things didn’t happen and my experience with Ubuntu Satanic Edition was overwhelmingly positive.

In other words, I just don’t have much to complain about in this section. Darn it. :cwy:

A Batman-esque wallpaper for Ubuntu Satanic Edition.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu Satanic Edition forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I’ve been looking forward to the release of Ubuntu Satanic Edition for quite a while. It’s probably one of the most…er…unique of the Ubuntu remasters. Lucifer’s Legion doesn’t take itself too seriously; it’s a blast to use as an alternative to generic Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Satanic Edition is recommended for any Linux user who has a sense of humor and who doesn’t mind seeing the dark, evil underbelly of Ubuntu Linux.

Who knew that evil could be this much fun?

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu Satanic Edition 10.04
Web Site: http://ubuntusatanic.org
Price: Free
Pros: All of the features of generic Ubuntu Linux 10.04, wrapped up in a delightfully evil package. Includes new satanic wallpaper, and an updated Revenge icon theme.
Cons: Lacks the option to view a pic of a hot guy in the Totem Movie Player while listening to the free metal bundled with the distro. Bundled software selection is a bit sparse.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: The distro for the damned has risen again and walks among us. It’s chock-full of amazing satanic grace and charm. Highly recommended for Linux users who are tired of being goody two-shoes and who want to take a walk on the dark side of Ubuntu Linux.
Rating: 4/5

 

 

Ubuntu Linux Netbook Edition 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

I’ve been reviewing various Ubuntu derivatives and this week I thought it would be fun to take a look at the netbook version of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition used to be called Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but Canonical changed the name once this distro became an official edition of Ubuntu.

What’s New In This Release
Much of the new stuff included in Ubuntu 10.04 is also included the Netbook Edition. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

GNOME 2.3
Gwibber Social Media Client
F-Spot replaces GIMP
Ubuntu One music store available in Rhythmbox
Ubuntu One now has bookmark sharing and contacts
Two new themes: Ambiance and Radiance
New wallpaper
Ubuntu Software Center 2.0
Linux Kernel 2.6.32

I’ll cover the interface of Ubuntu Netbook Edition in the Desktop section of the review.

Note that in this release you can switch from the netbook interface to a regular GNOME desktop interface. See the booting and login section for details and screenshots.

As I noted in a prior review, the removal of GIMP may rub some people the wrong way. Not to worry though, it’s still available in the Software Center if you really want it. But the GIMP might be overkill for use on a netbook anyway. I’m not sure how many people would actually want to use it on that kind of computer.

Use Gwibber to connect to social media networks.

Gwibber
The inclusion of the Gwibber social media client gets a big thumbs up from me. You can easily connect to Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StatusNet, FriendFeed, Qaiku, and Identi.ca from Gwibber. The only major service lacking in Gwibber is LinkedIn, which I hope to see added in an update at some point. LinkedIn is an important tool for many people, so it’s worth including in Gwibber.

It takes less than a minute to set up your Twitter and Facebook accounts in Gwibber. You can post updates, view the updates of others and generally stay in touch. Gwibber works as well in Ubuntu Netbook Edition as it does in the desktop version (although it behaves somewhat oddly, see the problems section for details). Once you get used to using it, you’ll wonder how you did without it for so long.

Use the administration tools to manage your netbook.

Ubuntu One
The Ubuntu One music store is bundled with Rhythmbox. But before you can use it, you’ll need to install the necessary MP3 plugins. Not to worry, just pull up Rhythmbox by clicking on the Sound applications menu. Once the application loads you’ll see the “Install MP3 Plugins” button. Click that and you’ll soon be ready to buy music from the Ubuntu One Music Store.

Prices in the store run about $.99 to $1.29 for individual songs. Albums seem to cost about $9.99 to $16.99. For the most part, the pricing seemed about the same as in Apple’s iTunes store. The Ubuntu One Music Store does not let users rate and review music though. Hopefully they’ll add that in a future version of the store since it adds a lot of value for customers.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s a list of what you’ll need to run Ubuntu Netbook Edition:

Processor: Intel® Atom™ processor
RAM: 512 MB
Storage: 4 GB Flash disk (SSD) or hard disk

Installation Steps
You can download Ubuntu from the Ubuntu site, or you can buy it on disc from Amazon.com.

The install is, as you might expect, very easy. It’s quick and painless, in classic Ubuntu fashion. I do not own a netbook, so I simply installed Ubuntu Netbook Edition into a virtual machine using VMWare.

The install is documented in the screenshots below, step by step.

Booting & Login

Login
One really nice thing about Ubuntu Netbook Edition is that the login screen lets you choose between a netbook session or a regular GNOME desktop session.

This is great for those who prefer switching back and forth between the two interfaces, and for those who simply don’t like the netbook interface. You get to decide which interface you use on your netbook.

You can choose between a regular GNOME desktop session or a netbook session.

The regular GNOME desktop after changing my session login.

Bootsplash
The bootsplash screen appears briefly and has the new Ubuntu logo on it.

The new logo appears on the bootsplash screen.

GRUB
I ran into a GRUB screen at one point when I restarted Ubuntu Linux Netbook Edition. It was similar to what I encountered in my review of the desktop version of Ubuntu Linux 10.04.

The GRUB menu appeared once after a restart.

The Desktop
The Ubuntu Netbook Edition interface is a refreshing change from the desktop version of Ubuntu. Some might find that they even prefer it to desktop Ubuntu. You navigate via the main menu on the left side of the screen:

Favorites
Files
Accessories
Games
Graphics
Internet
Office
Sound
System

It’s very easy and simple to use, as it should be for an OS designed for netbooks.

When you first boot into Ubuntu Netbook Edition, the Favorites menu loads.

When you have multiple applications running at the same time, you switch between them via the icons on the top panel. You can also go back to the main screen by clicking the Ubuntu logo in the upper left corner on the panel.

You can easily customize what appears on the main menu by clicking System then Main Menu. You can add or remove items quite easily.

Customize the main menu to suit your preferences.

If you have updates available, you’ll see a flashing Update Manager icon appear on the panel. Other important icons on the panel include networking, rhythmbox, preferences, volume, the MeMenu (envelope), date, and logout/restart icon. If you’ve used the desktop version of Ubuntu, you’ll be familiar with all of these already anyway.

When applications are running, you’ll see a small, spinning wheel that appears on the right side of their icons. So it’s very easy to know if you have something running while you’re browsing through the menus.

Given how most applications appear in the interface, the raging controversy over the title bar buttons being moved to the left side really doesn’t apply to Ubuntu Netbook Edition. With the exception of Gwibber, you simply don’t see them when running an application.

Controls
To adjust your system settings, just click the System icon in the navigation menu. You’ll find that settings are grouped into two main categories: Administration and Settings.

You can configure all of the usual stuff in either of these menus, including the following:

Software Sources
Hardware Drivers
Disk Utility
Users and Groups
Login Screen
Language Support
Printing
Appearance
Bluetooth
Mouse
Monitors
Power Management
Screensaver
Preferred Applications

Themes & Wallpaper
As with the desktop version, the two new themes are Radiance and Ambiance. Ambiance is the default theme and is darker than Radiance. I tried Radiance but went back to Ambiance. I guess I just prefer the darker look to the lighter one. The wallpaper is also the purplish color of the desktop version of Ubuntu.

You can easily change your themes and wallpaper by clicking the System menu, and then scrolling down to Preferences and then clicking the Appearance icon. From there you can adjust your theme, background, and fonts. More themes and wallpaper are available online. Just look for the “Get More Themes Online” and the “Get More Backgrounds Online” links in each tab.

The files menu lets you access files and folders on your system.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Quadrapassel
Sudoku

Graphics
F-Spot Photo Manager
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Gwibber Social Client
Empathy IM
Transmission

Multimedia
Cheese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder

Office
Evolution Mail and Calendar
OpenOffice.org Presentation
OpenOffice.org Spreadsheet
OpenOffice.org Word Processor

Software Management
The Ubuntu Software Center is available in Ubuntu Netbook Edition. Just click the System icon on the menu and then scroll down. The Ubuntu Software Center splits applications into the following categories:

Accessories
Education
Fonts
Games
Graphics
Internet
Office
Science and Engineering
Sound & Video
Themes & Tweaks
Universal Access
Developer Tools
System

Before you start browsing the individual categories, be sure to click the Featured Applications button. You’ll find some useful applications that aren’t installed by default. This includes applications such as GIMP, GNOME Do, Inkscape, Liferea Feed Reader, and Audacity.

Software Repositories
Click the Edit button while in the Software Center and then click Software Sources. You can add additional repositories to the ones that come with the Ubuntu Software Center.

As I’ve noted in other reviews, I doubt it will be necessary though. There is so much software available in the Ubuntu Software Center that you should have no problem finding applications that meet your needs.

Adding & Removing Software
It’s simple to add or remove applications. Just find the application in the Software Center and then click the Install or Remove button. If you haven’t installed an application already, you can also click the More Info button to see a screenshot and read more about it before deciding to install it on your system.

Add or remove software from your system with the Software Center.

Create documents using OpenOffice.org’s word processor.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
You’ll need to install flash from the Software Center to properly view YouTube videos. Just do a search on “flash” and you’ll find the Adobe Flash plugin. While I am not a big fan of flash, it would be nice if it were installed by default.

Over time, it probably won’t matter as much as the Web moves past flash and onto other technologies. But, in the short term, it just makes it easier for users to have it installed by default.

Unlike the desktop version of Ubuntu, Ubuntu Netbook Edition does not include the Pitivi video editor in its bundled software. No worries though, you can find it in the Software Center easily enough.

You’ll need to use the Software Center to install flash to play YouTube videos.

DVDs
You won’t be able to play DVDs unless you download the appropriate package from some other software repository. You won’t be able to find it in the Ubuntu Software Center. Canonical does not carry it for obvious legal reasons.

Problems & Headaches
One of the things I loved about Peppermint OS was its tight integration with services like Hulu. Web based applications were available in the Peppermint OS application menus and a Prism based window would launch to load up the application. This made for a nice blend of desktop applications and web-based applications.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition doesn’t do this directly. But you can, in a few cases, find web-based applications with Prism in the Ubuntu Software Center. Google Docs, for example, is available for install in the Software Center. Alas, Gmail wasn’t and neither was Hulu.

I’d really like to see Canonical integrate web applications into all of its iterations of Ubuntu the way that they have been in Peppermint OS. If that’s not possible then I’d at least like to see wider range of Prism-based web applications included in the Software Center, preferable in a way that would install a bunch of them with one click.

One other thing I noticed related to this distro is that the Ubuntu Netbook Edition page still calls it the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. This is potentially confusing to newbies. Somebody at Canonical might want to update that page soon.

Another odd thing was that when Gwibber is running, it floats the same way it does on the desktop version (rather than being blended into Ubuntu Netbook Edition the way that Firefox does when it is running). It’s not a bad thing, and it doesn’t affect how you use the application. But it does stand out from other applications and thus might seem a bit off to some people.

Keep your Ubuntu netbook up to date with Update Manager.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page for various free & paid support options. The Ubuntu discussion forums and the Ubuntu Netbook Edition wiki page might be particularly helpful for those with questions or problems.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I had a fun time playing with Ubuntu Netbook Edition. The interface is a nice change of pace from the desktop versions of Ubuntu, while still providing the same stability and functionality. If I owned a netbook, I’d definitely give Ubuntu Netbook Edition a shot at becoming my preferred netbook distro.

I definitely recommend it for distrohoppers and anybody else who simply is curious about using Ubuntu on a netbook. It might also hold some appeal for those who are just tired of the usual desktop interface and want to use something different.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 gives you the virtues of Ubuntu Linux 10.04, wrapped up in a sweet netbook interface. And if you get tired of it, you can always switch the interface back to the desktop version of GNOME. What more can a netbook user ask for?

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu Linux Netbook Edition 10.04
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com
Price: Free
Pros: Includes new wallpaper and theme. Gwibber social media client bundled in. Netbook interface provides a change of pace from the desktop version. Ubuntu One Music Store bundled into Rhythmbox. Includes Ubuntu Software Center 2.0.
Cons: Lacks the cloud integration of Peppermint OS. Flash is not installed by default.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced netbook users. Also appropriate for distrohoppers looking for something fun to play with in a virtual machine.
Summary: Ubuntu Netbook Edition takes most of what’s great about the desktop version and wraps it up in a colorful, attractive netbook interface.
Rating: 4/5

Ubuntu Linux 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx)

The open source world has been eagerly anticipating the final release of Ubuntu Linux 10.04, and now it’s finally here. Canonical has been working extremely hard and it shows in the quality of this release.

To put it bluntly, Lucid Lynx rocks!

What’s New In This Release
There’s quite a lot of new stuff and changes in this release. Here’s a list of some of what you’ll find:

F-Spot replaces the GIMP

PiTiVi video editor added

GNOME 2.30

New themes: Ambiance and Radiance

New wallpaper

Linux kernel 2.6.32

New nVidia hardware driver

Gwibber social media application

Faster boot time, with a different look and feel on the bootsplash screen

Ubuntu One adds contacts and bookmark sharing

Ubuntu One music store integrated into Rhythmbox

Ubuntu Software Center 2.0

This release marks the first time that the GIMP has not been installed by default. F-Spot Photo Manager replaces it. Some people will love this and some will hate it. The thinking at Canonical is that the GIMP was too complicated an application for most ordinary desktop users. If you’re a fan of GIMP, no need to worry though. It’s still available in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Another new addition is the PiTiVi video editor. I don’t do much in the way of video editing, but I’m very glad to see this included. It’s one of the basic kinds of application functionality that users expect to find in a desktop operating system. Will it suffice for hard-core, high-end video editing? Probably not, but it should work just fine for your average desktop user.

I’ll cover the new themes and wallpaper in the desktop section. I’ll also cover the bootsplash and time changes in that section of the review. And I’ll talk about the Ubuntu Software Center in the software section.

Social Media
Access to various social media networks is now built into the Ubuntu desktop interface via Gwibber. You can access this by clicking on the envelope in the panel at the top of your screen. Or simply click Applications then Internet then Gwibber Social Client.

Gwibber lets you have all of a number of different social networks all in one application. You can connect to Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Flicker, StatusNet, FriendFeed, Qaiku and Identi.ca from the Me Menu. You can also chat with friends on Google Talk, MSN, IRC and other networks.

It doesn’t take long at all to set up your social networking accounts and updates appear in one, unified interface. This is tremendously convenient and helps eliminate the need to run these services in different browser windows. You can also easily post updates from Gwibber.

I loved having it available on my desktop. It let me read Twitter and Facebook updates at a glance and made it quick for me to post my own updates.

The Me Menu (based on Gwibber) lets you connect to Facebook, Twitter and other social media services.

Ubuntu One: Music and More
The Ubuntu One service has been enhanced to make it easier to share files and folders. And you can now share bookmarks and contacts too. Each user gets 2GB of free storage from Ubuntu One so it’s a good deal if you want to use the cloud to store files and information.

The Ubuntu One Music Store has been integrated into Rhythmbox music player. You can buy DRM-free music tracks and store or share them on the Ubuntu One service.

To access the music store, click Applications then Sound and Video then Rhythmbox Music Player. When you first launch Rhythmbox, you’ll see a message letting you know that you need to install some MP3 plugins to listen to purchased songs. Just click the Install Plugins button and your plugins will be installed for you. You can then browse the Ubuntu One music store and begin purchasing music.

The prices in the Ubuntu One Music Store seem comparable to the ones in iTunes. Individual songs go for $.99 to $1.29 and albums seem to be about $9.99 to $16.99. I only checked a few albums though so it’s possible that pricing on them could vary more. Still, it all seems very similar to what you’d pay in iTunes or other online music store.

The Ubuntu One Music Store could still use the ability for users to post their own reviews and ratings of music though. But it is definitely off to a good start and I’m sure we’ll be seeing improvements in it as time goes by.

You can now share bookmarks and contacts via the Ubuntu One service.

The Ubuntu One Music Store is integrated into the Rhythmbox music player.

Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here is the official list of system requirements for Ubuntu 10.04, from the Ubuntu Manual:

700 MHz x86 processor
256 MB RAM
3 GB disk space
Graphics card capable of 1024 x 768 resolution
Sound card
Network or Internet connection

Installation
Ubuntu Linux 10.04 is a Live CD distro. You don’t have to install it to use it. Just pop the CD into your computer and boot off of it. Choose the Try Ubuntu Without Installing option and you can use Ubuntu without installing it.

If you’re a Windows user with no Linux experience, don’t worry. Installing Ubuntu is about as easy as it gets. The screenshots below take you through the install, step by step.

While Ubuntu is installing, the install menu displays information about applications such as Firefox, OpenOffice.org and some of Ubuntu’s features. This is a nice touch for newbies to Ubuntu Linux who might not be familiar with Ubuntu’s new features or some of the bundled applications. Old salts probably won’t care too much about this though.

You can choose your language before you install Ubuntu Linux.

Choose your time zone.

Pick your keyboard layout.

Partition your hard disk.

Choose your login ID and password.

Begin your install or hit the back button to make changes.

While the install is completed, you can read about Ubuntu’s features and software.

Reboot your computer after the install is complete.

Booting & Login
The boot time for this release has been sped up significantly. It took just a few seconds for my Ubuntu system to take me to the login screen and then just a few more for the desktop to load up.

Ubuntu boots way faster than Mac OS X, that’s for sure. While it’s nice that Canonical is learning how to do a desktop properly from Apple, it might be nice if Apple learns how to speed up Mac OS X’s boot time from Canonical. Turnabout is certainly fair play when it comes to boot time and desktop design.

Bootsplash Screen
The bootsplash screen lets you boot into the Live CD version so you can try Ubuntu without installing it. Or you can opt to start the install right away. You can also check your disc for defects, test memory or boot from the hard disk.

Other options such as language, keymap, accessibility, etc. are available via the F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, and F6 keys.

The bootsplash screen has the new Ubuntu logo and coloring, and it looks great. It’s simple yet beautiful to look at and is a harbinger of good things to come for those booting into Ubuntu for the first time.

When you first boot into Ubuntu, you can choose to run it as a Live CD or to install it to your hard disk.

Login Screen
The login screen has the new, Mac-like purplish background on it.

The login screen lets you choose your session, keyboard and language.

The Desktop
The new desktop theme is called Ambiance and it’s quite attractive. Gone is the icky orange and brown of previous releases and who among us will miss it? Not I.

The Ubuntu Linux desktop has finally come of age as far as design goes. It is – dare I say it – very Mac-like in some respects. The default wallpaper is purplish and the maximize/minimize/close buttons are now on the left.

Moving these buttons was a bold move on Canonical’s part but one that doesn’t bother me in the least. I own Macs and I use Mac OS X frequently so having the buttons on the left is second nature to me and I’m very happy to see Ubuntu go in this direction. I know that some people will hate this but, trust me, you’ll get used to it very quickly and if you have to use Windows at some point, you’ll wonder why the buttons are on right instead of on the left. Having them on the left just feels so natural once you get used to it.

Canonical seems to have used Mac OS X as a template of sorts for Ubuntu Linux and my hat is off to them for doing so. Apple, love them or hate them, has done a great job with Mac OS X’s interface and I’m thrilled to see Linux taking a page from Apple’s book and perhaps moving away from some conventions used by Microsoft in Windows.

Themes
As I noted above, Ambiance is the default theme. If you dislike it you can use a lighter theme called Radiance. I tried Radiance but went right back to Ambiance, I prefer the darker theme much more. If Radiance doesn’t float your boat you can choose Clearlooks, Dust, Dust Sand, New Wave, High Contrast Inverse or High Contrast Large Print Inverse. If none of these themes pleases you then click the Get More Themes link on the themes menu and download additional themes to choose from.

Wallpaper
There are 18 different wallpaper options to choose from and you can opt to click the Get More Backgrounds link on the Background menu if you want more. I think the default, purplish Ubuntu theme looks very good and I decided to stick with that until I finally get bored with it. At some point I’ll probably take some of my World of Warcraft screenshots and use those as my wallpaper in Ubuntu 10.04.

The Appearance Preferences menu also lets you change your font settings and adjust visual effects. My desktop defaulted to having visual effects off, which wasn’t surprising since I was running Ubuntu in a VM at the time. I tried to turn on the Extra option but, alas, it didn’t work as Ubuntu didn’t seem able to find the proper driver.

The Ubuntu 10.04 desktop using the Ambiance theme.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
gbrainy
Mahjongg
Mines
Quadrapassel
Sudoku

Graphics
F-Spot Photo Manager
Simple Scan
OpenOffice.org Drawing

Internet
Empathy IM Client
Gwibber Social Client
Firefox
Transmission BitTorrent Client
Terminal Server Client
Remote Desktop Viewer

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Movie Player
Pitivi Video Editor
Rhythmbox Music Player
Sound Recorder

Office
Dictionary
Evolution Mail and Calendar
OpenOffice.org

Software Management
The Ubuntu Software Center is where you can add or remove applications. I’m a big fan of the Software Center. I liked it a lot in the last release of Ubuntu and I like it even more in this release.

Featured Applications & Departments
When you first launch the Ubuntu Software Center, you’ll see a list of application categories and a large, orange Featured Applications button. You can opt to browse software via category initially but it’s better to click the Featured Applications. The Featured Applications list has a lot of great software that isn’t installed by default including:

Audacity
Blender
Cheese
GIMP
GNOME Do
HomeBank
Inkscape
Liferea Feed Reader
Pingus
Stellarium
Moovida Media Center

There’s plenty of other software available in the Software Center, probably more than any typical desktop user will ever really need.

Provided By Ubuntu & Canonical Partners
If you look in the left side of the Software Center, you’ll see Get Software. Click that and you’ll see two entries below it: Provided By Ubuntu and Canonical Partners.

The Provided By Ubuntu menu is a long list of stuff that most desktop users could probably care less about. The only things listed in the Canonical Partners menu were two Adobe products, Adobe Flash Plugin 10 and Adobe Reader 9. I don’t doubt though that we’ll probably see some commercial applications at some point.

Adding and Removing Applications
When you find an application you want click on it and you can choose the More Info button or the Install button. If you choose More Info you’ll get a detailed description of the application and a screenshot so you can see what it looks like before installing it.

If you install something and you want to get rid of it, go back to the application in the Software Center and click the Remove button. Each time you add or remove an application you’ll need to type your password when prompted.

You can download additional software from the Software Center.

You can download plug-ins like flash for your browser.

Clicking the More Info button loads a detailed description and screenshot of an application.

Sound and Multimedia
When I first booted into my Ubuntu desktop, the sound worked perfectly. I didn’t need to configure anything. It’s always nice to hear the Ubuntu theme when my desktop loads.

YouTube & Flash
Flash wasn’t installed by default, unfortunately. I installed it by going into the Software Center and clicking the Install button. It took just a few seconds and I was good to go with YouTube videos.

I’m somewhat surprised that I had to install flash on Ubuntu Linux 10.04. It seems like something that should be bundled into Firefox by default. Perhaps I’m just too used to Linux Mint and it has spoiled me? Maybe Canonical could cut some kind of deal with Adobe (assuming that’s necessary) and start integrating flash into Firefox by default.

Anyway, remember that flash is available to you in the Software Center if you find that you need it while browsing the web.

After installing flash, YouTube videos will play in Firefox.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t come across any real show stoppers while using Ubuntu Linux 10.04. However, I do a have a few, mostly minor things to nitpick about it.

I found it strange that the word Departments is used in the Software Center as a label for application categories. Departments? As in department store? Accounting department? I don’t know, the word “department” just strikes me as odd. Labeling it Application Categories makes a lot more sense to me.

One thing I missed from Mac OS X was the ability to have my desktop wallpaper background automatically cycle through a folder of wallpaper. In Mac OS X, for example, I use the screenshots folder in my World of Warcraft folder. I have my wallpaper set to cycle to the next wallpaper every five minutes. So I get to see my adventures in WOW as my desktop background and I never get bored because my desktop always cycles to a new WOW screenshot every so often.

I was also unhappy to note that the Screensaver menu is separate from the Appearances menu where you change your desktop background. These two things are combined in Mac OS X on one menu (you choose one or the other from the same menu) so it’s easy to make changes. Canonical might want to give some thought to combining these two menus, it just makes a lot of sense to have them both in one place.

As I noted earlier, the GIMP has been removed in this release. Yes, you can easily install it from the Software Center, but I still miss it as part of the default install. GIMP, we hardly knew ye…

One prominent social networking service that was missing in action in Gwibber was LinkedIn. This definitely needs to be fixed in a future patch. Facebook, etc. are all fine but LinkedIn actually has real business value and should most certainly be available in the list of services available via Gwibber.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

Beginners should definitely take a few moments to check out the Ubuntu Manual. It will be a big help in getting you started with Ubuntu Linux. You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page for various free and paid support options including professional support services, free community support and Ubuntu’s technical answers system.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I applaud Canonical for the changes they made in this release of Ubuntu Linux. It’s a terrific update to an already excellent desktop Linux distro.

There are those who will resist some of these changes but I think they will learn to love them eventually. Canonical has pushed the desktop Linux experience forward significantly in Ubuntu Linux 10.04. Other distro developers should pay careful attention to this release and should learn from what Canonical has accomplished.

One last thing, I’d really love to see Valve hook up with Canonical and bundle Steam into Ubuntu Linux. Given all its other strengths, the only thing Ubuntu 10.04 really lacks right now is access to some truly killer games. Steam would be the cherry on top for Ubuntu Linux. I covered this possibility in a column and I still have my fingers crossed about it.

I heartily recommend Ubuntu Linux 10.04 to beginners or experienced Linux users.

There’s quite a lot to love in this release and very little to dislike. Give it a download and enjoy.

What’s your take on Ubuntu Linux 10.04? Tell me in the comments below. For more discussions, visit the DLR forum. For opinion columns visit JimLynch.com.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu Linux 10.04
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Social media desktop integration, new themes and wallpaper, Mac-like minimize/restore buttons. Ubuntu One enhancements including the Ubuntu One Music Store integrated into Rhythmbox Music Player. Ubuntu now comes with the PiTiVi video editor.
Cons: Can’t automatically cycle through desktop background wallpaper. Screensaver menu is still separate from the Appearance Preferences menu. The Ubuntu One Music Store doesn’t give users the ability to rate and review music.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Ubuntu Linux 10.04 is simply marvelous! Canonical has taken an already good desktop distro to a whole new level of polish and sophistication. Bravo!
Rating: 4.5/5