Some Linux distros sell themselves by being minimalistic. They only come with a limited range of apps and everything is geared toward keeping the file size and hardware requirements absolutely minimal. Then there’s Ultimate Edition 2.5. Ultimate Edition leans the other way and throws in everything including the kitchen sink.
Ultimate Edition 2.5 is based on Ubuntu 9.10 and it weighs in at a chunky 3.1GB. Clearly this is a distro you won’t be able to fit onto a CD. But that’s fine as long as you have a DVD and DVD burner available. This larger size is due to the fact that it comes with a lot of software (more on that in the software section).
Ultimate Edition 2.5 includes GNOME, KDE 4.3.2 and XFCE. You can choose which desktop environment you want to work in when you login.
What’s New In This Release
One of the things I hate about reviewing certain distros is when the folks who make the distro don’t have a “What’s New” page on their site or a file in the distro itself. It makes it hard for reviewers to know which new features are included in the distribution. I have to go running around trying to figure out what the significant new features are so I can include them in the review.
Despite checking the Ultimate Edition site and also looking in the forum, I was not able to find a complete list of what’s new in this release. Since it’s based on Ubuntu 9.10, Ultimate Edition 2.5 should have all of the new features of the generic Ubuntu release.
Nor was I able to find an email address to contact the developer to ask for more information and the forum link posted on the front page of the UE site led to a “topic does not exist” message.
I encourage the Ultimate Edition developers to include a brief summary of new features in future releases. It makes it a heck of a lot easier for reviewers to note them in the review.
After googling around, I finally tracked down what appears to be a list of some new features but it’s on the Softpedia site and not on the actual Ultimate Edition 2.5 site. Hmmm. Not exactly a good way of announcing what’s new to reviewers and users.
“Ultimate Edition 2.5 was built off Ultimate Edition 2.4 (Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 based) all upgrades pre-installed as of current. It has KDE, XFCE, and GNOME user selectable at login, 3 new themes and tons of apps. This release is huge obviously bigger then UE 2.4 ;) I am not going to spend my time writing a webpage, but just a post. Even though it is a very worthy release and deserves a webpage. I have alot on my plate in programming and other activities & I do mean alot. It has been out about a week, forum users have been grabbing it left and right.”
Hardware Requirements & Installation
As with the “What’s New” information, I could not locate any Ultimate Edition 2.5 hardware requirements. So I’ll defer to the generic Ubuntu 9.10 hardware requirements:
Minimum System Requirements:
300 MHz x86 processor
64 MB of system memory (RAM)
At least 4 GB of disk space (for full installation and swap space)
VGA graphics card capable of 640×480 resolution
CD-ROM drive or network card
700 MHz x86 processor
384 MB of system memory (RAM)
8 GB of disk space
Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
A network or Internet connection
Note that according to the Ubuntu 9.10 release notes you actually need 256MB to run it not 64MB:
The minimum memory requirement for Ubuntu 9.10 is 256 MB of memory.
Perhaps it’s time for the Ubuntu developers to update their site to incorporate more accurate system requirements? I don’t know what it is with Linux developers and poor documentation about basic information such as What’s New and Hardware Requirements. Ugh.
Ultimate Edition 2.5 is a Live CD distro (not surprising since it’s based on Ubuntu 9.10. After you boot into the Live CD desktop you’ll notice a “Install Ubuntu 9.10” icon on the desktop. Click that to get started.
The installer has been customized to reflect the overall color scheme of the Ultimate Edition 2.5 desktop (more on that in the desktop section). But color aside, it’s essentially the same as installing any other version of Ubuntu. The install isn’t difficult at all.
As the install proceeds, you will see blurbs pop up about various applications included with Ultimate Edition 2.5. The installation took about 35 minutes. The longest part seemed to be the copying of files. Again, not surprising given the large amount of software that is bundled into Ultimate Edition 2.5.
Step 1: Welcome
Step 2: Setting Up the Clock & Location
Step 3: Keyboard Layout
Step 4: Prepare Disk Space
Step 5: Who Are You?
Step 6: Ready To Install
Step 7: Installation
Step 8. Confirmation & Finish
Booting & Login
Bootsplash: The bootsplash simply features the Ultimate Edition 2.5 logo as it loads.
Login Screen: The login screen is where you can choose to boot into GNOME, KDE or XFCE. You can also change your keyboard and your language.
I opted to boot into the GNOME desktop environment for this review. I also briefly checked out the KDE and XFCE desktops but I mainly used the GNOME desktop to write this review. I had no problems running or using the KDE or XFCE desktops.
After you boot into the desktop the first thing you’ll notice is the Ultimate Edition 2.5 customized wallpaper and also GNOME Do (a small application that tells you to type to start searching.) The wallpaper features the UE logo and gold coloring gold that matches the color of the letters in the desktop menus. The desktop itself is clean and uncluttered, with just one icon on it “Install Ubuntu 9.10.”
The other thing I noticed after the desktop loaded was the Update Manager running minimized on the desktop panel. I clicked it and it had a bunch of updates ready to be downloaded and installed. I ran the updates and installed everything with no problems.
Themes & Wallpaper: After the update finished, I rebooted and lo and behold! A new theme! This one was in black; all the gold lettering was gone. The new theme reminded me of Sabayon Linux, for some reason. There was even a new version of the Ultimate Edition logo on the desktop wallpaper.
And then I noticed the “Ultimate Edition 2.4” at the bottom of the wallpaper. Yes, for some strange reason the update I ran changed the default theme to Ultimate Edition 2.4! Irritated, I opened the control to change the theme and found two relevant options:
Ultimate Edition 2.5
Ultimate Edition 2.5 Gold
Since the lettering I saw when I first installed it was gold, I decided to go with the gold option. A second later the gold wallpaper and lettering was back. Whew!
Don’t worry if black or gold isn’t your thing, there are a lot of themes included with Ultimate Edition 2.5.
Here’s some of the software included in this release.
Google Gadget Designer
Meld Diff Viewer
Qt 4 Designer
Qt 4 Linguist
Screem HTML/XML Editor
Banshee Media Player
Miro Internet TV
VLC Media Player
XBMC Media Center
Note that this is not an exhaustive list, there are more apps included with Ultimate Edition 2.5. If you’re a software junkie, this is the distro for you. You’ll have tons of applications available to play with and use. Probably far more than you’ll actually ever need.
Adding & Removing Software: There are two ways you can manage your software. The first way is the easiest, particularly if you are new to Linux. Simply click the System menu at the top of your screen then choose Administration then Add/Remove Applications.
A tool will load that will let you easily add or remove software on your system. The Add/Remove Applications tool is broken down into the following convenient categories:
Sound & Video
Note that you can view a screenshot of an application by clicking the Get Screenshot button in the description.
The other way to manage software is to use the Synaptic Package Manager. I don’t recommend this for newbies to Linux as it may be a bit confusing if you haven’t used it before. Stick with the Add/Remove Applications tool instead.
To update your system, look for the Update Manager link in the Administration menu. It’s a very good idea to do an update right away after installing Ultimate Edition 2.5. There might be bug fixes and other helpful updates waiting to be downloaded.
Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash: I tested Ultimate Edition 2.5 by playing the Spartacus: Blood and Sand trailer on Youtube and it worked flawlessly. Sound and video were both great. I can’t wait to see that show when it’s on; Lucy Lawless from Xena is on it and apparently plays a bit of a nymphomaniac.
DVDs: Speaking of Xena, I decided to use one of my Xena Season 1 DVDs as a test DVD. Unfortunately, I was not able to play it in Ultimate Edition 2.5 using Movie Player. Movie Player kept getting hung and I had to terminate it.
I was able to play the DVD using VLC though but I ran into some problems. The video was a bit grainy at times and the sound stuttered.
Problems & Headaches
One thing I noticed about Ultimate Edition 2.5 is that it has a very slow boot time. I actually thought the install had gotten stuck. I had to be patient and simply wait for it to finish starting up and booting into the Live CD desktop. It seemed to take about 3 or 4 minutes to boot fully and for the desktop to load up.
I noted the lack of a “What’s New” page or file earlier but I’ll reiterate it here. The UE developers need to fix this in future releases so that reviewers and users know exactly what goodies they are going to get in each new release.
Another thing I disliked was having GNOME Do open by default on my desktop. And what made it worse was that it seemed to be buggy. I couldn’t get it to close down when I checked the About Gnome Do menu. It was stuck open on my desktop, I could move it around but I couldn’t get rid of it.
Where To Get Help
You are always welcome to post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. For additional information be sure to check out the Ultimate Edition forum.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Ultimate Edition 2.5 is probably best geared for desktop users that really want a lot of software bundled into their distribution.
In terms of ease of use, Ultimate Edition 2.5 can be used by pretty much anybody. However, the sheer amount of software might be overwhelming to complete newbies to desktop Linux. Those folks might want to opt for Linux Mint instead since it is also based on Ubuntu and will probably meet the computing needs of most newbies.
Intermediate and advanced Linux users can also certainly get a lot of value from Ultimate Edition 2.5, and will probably appreciate the software selection and desktop environment choices more than most newbies.
I’m glad Ultimate Edition 2.5 is available for the folks that want it all in one large desktop distribution. It’s a convenient way to enjoy a lot of the software that desktop Linux has to offer.
|Product:||Ultimate Edition Linux 2.5|
|Pros:||Excellent collection of software and desktop themes; easy install and good software management tools.|
|Cons:||Slow boot; large collection of software may be overkill for novice Linux users; download size weighs in at more than 3GB.|
|Suitable For:||Intermediate and advanced Linux users. Newbies can try it but may not need everything that Ultimate Edition has to offer in terms of software.|
|Summary:||Ultimate Edition offers a one-stop-shopping experience for Ubuntu users that want lots of software bundled into their favorite distribution. It offers everything generic Ubuntu offers plus a whole lot more.|