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:
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
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.
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.
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
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.