First look at Ubuntu 10.04

28.04.2010

Canonical has just released another major Ubuntu version. This time it’s another April’s Long Term Support release, numbered predictably as 10.04. According to official announcement at Canonical website, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (code named Lucid Lynx) will be supported for three years on desktops and generous 5 years on servers – not bad for a free distro.

Meanwhile, its needed to say, that 10.04 release was not a big-shocking surprise, thanks to alpha, beta and RC releases that let us observe all new things beforehand. So today it grew mature, and – official. As long as Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution in the world and the main Windows rival on desktops, I’m going to review it as a desktop OS. I hope that this will be helpful for both Windows switchers and up-nosed Linux geeks.

What’s new for desktop users

  • Ubuntu now comes with it’s own Music Store, which is integrated into Rhythmиox music player. Rhythmbox is a default player for your music.
  • GIMP is removed from standard out-of-the-box install. This is done because Canonical considered it to be “too complex” for an average user. Basic image editing features, such as resize, crop, auto levels etc. are supposed to be done in F-Spot, which is installed by default.
  • Ubuntu now includes PiTiVi video editor by default. Pitivi is a basic non-linear video editor, adressed to newbies and non-geeks. I assume that it’s Ubuntu’s response to iMovie and Windows Movie Maker.
  • Notifications has seen further improvements since 9.10 release. Thanks to libnotify development and integration into Gnome desktop, notifications are smarter and more functional. You can maintain your IM conversations, watch system messages and receive any other type of notifications within one solid (and clean looking!) system in your panel tray. The smart thing is that pop-up messages are not so dumb as before: now they will not disturb you watching fullscreen movie, or wake up the PC when it sleeps or stands by.
  • Fresh DE releases: GNOME 2.30, which is the last major GNOME of 2.x series, and KDE SC 4.4, for those who needs KDE desktop.
  • Even faster boot process, up to 8-9 seconds on certain hardware
  • New look and feel. The new Ubuntu design was heavily discussed through the whole Web. The most revolutionary change is the new window button layout.

Digging into new release

The first thing to notice is the new design which makes Ubuntu 10.04 more distinctive. We have new logo, new dark theme applied by default, new splash screens and wallpaper and new mac-styled window button placement. Speaking about logo one mjst say that it’s definitely more mature than the original one. The new font looks more sharp and less childish, as compared with old rounded font. The famous circle (“three people”) has remained the same but is moved to the right and made smaller and mono-coloured. However, we also have new GTK2 theme (“Radiance”), which features very wide scrollbars and suprisingly contrast bold porgress bars of very bright orange colour. Personally I didn’t like Radiance theme because, to my mind, it’s very childish and “simple” — this is quite opposite to the new logo. Nevertherless, tastes differ, and you can always set the look of your choice in Look and Feel preferences (or leave it intact).

The boot experience is really good, the splash screen appears only once and on my machine it took about12 seconds to load the desktop completely. I also tested 10.04 on older configuration with legacy Nvidia FX videocard. I noticed that when Ubuntu is unable to show the main splash screen immediately, it doesn’t show anything at all and you still see the smooth boot, without any text messages.

The desktop, which, as I ve said before, is the latest GNOME 2.30, sports highly integrated status applet on the top right, where Evolution mails, Empathy messages and system notifications all sit in uniform area. Surely, you have to login into your IM and setup mailbox to make use of it.

As soon as we see the good old GNOME desktop, let’s point things that were altered. The frist to notice is the reworked and redesigned Users and Groups management dialog

New User management tool

User management is now simpler and more inituituve, plus you can enable user login without password (it’s not the same as auto login), by just clicking the user name in GDM greeter. Ubuntu doesn’t let you set the password less than 6 characters for new users, though it is possible to do so during the installation process. The group management has the same functionality as before, but the interface has also been reworked.

Group handling is also comfortable

Soon after fresh install I wanted to add my native Russian localization. For years it has been done automatically and 10.04 is no exception. But things are also a bit different here and now I can choose, whether I want to install only localized menus or dictionaries, or both. Of course, this is great!

After setting up comfortable preferences I discovered, that software selection has also seen some changes. The general trend is that Ubuntu getting more and more simple and those pieces of software, that are considered to be “complex”, are just thrown away. Ubuntu 10.04 suggests that the user will be happy with F-Spot photo manager to edit his or her photos, but despite I find F-Spot very good organizer, it is a poor editor. This means that all you graphics lovers will sudo apt-get gimp soon after clean install. After all, default software set is no problem as long as we have tons of packages in default ubuntu repos. They turn to be very helpful in case when something goes wrong. For example, I was having trouble installing proprietary drivers for my Nvidia FX5200 card. Ubuntu simply didn’t detected it in it’s Hardware drivers utility. So I decided to install Nvidia*.run package from NVIDIA’s website. In order to compile the kernel module (nvidia.ko), I would need some developer tools and kernel headers. No problem: sudo apt-get install build-essential solves it and within 5 minutes I’m enjoying Tux Racer :)

When I choose to install some extra software, I can use Ubuntu Software Center (USC), or traditional Synaptic GUI. USC has been redesigned and now it sports very appealing tabs and more elegeant layout. USC is integrated with Packagekit (Synaptic is not) and offers only “Programs”, but not all packages. So if you’re new to Linux, you’ll most likely choose to use USC, while nerds and geeks will like Synaptic more.

DEB packages are hidden far-far away from here :)

Few more screenshots:

Default login greeter

Ubuntu Music Store is available right from Rhythmbox player

Software Center searches as you type and also sports very nice arrowed tabs

So what’s in the end?

Ubuntu is great, fast, stable and appealing. To my opinion, the new design is not ideal, specifically the gtk2 controls. I’m sure many people will customize the look and feel and will not stick to default theme.

Ubuntu is fast, it’s a real lightware, so you don’t have to look at other light DEs such as LXDE if you don’t want to. According to Phoronix tests, 10.04 wins in majority of tests. Even though the gain can be minimal, it’s still better than none. And better than other distros.

Pros:

  • Speed
  • Compatibility and device support
  • Ease of use
  • Friendliness to newbies
  • Ready for communicating and social networking
  • 3 years of desktop support thanks to LTS status

Cons:

  • Default theme is not really good
  • Gimp is dropped – goodbye power users

Though I personally prefer the more polished Mint, I would recommend Ubuntu 10.04 as a stable long-term solution.

Download the right images of Lucid Lynx from Ubuntu website, or use direct links below:

http://mirrors.gigenet.com/ubuntu/10.04/ubuntu-10.04-desktop-i386.iso

http://mirrors.ccs.neu.edu/releases.ubuntu.com/10.04/ubuntu-10.04-desktop-amd64.iso


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