Canonical‘s Ubuntu 9.10,otherwise known as “Karmic Koala,” could be for the Linux communitywhat the recently released Windows 7 OS from Microsoft is to theWindows world. Of course, this latest release that replaced Ubuntu9.04 did not have as much to do in bettering its predecessor as didWindows 7 had in overcoming Vista.
Still, no operating system is ever flawless. This latest Ubunturelease fixes some lingering problems and builds in several usefulenhancements. Its eye candy is tasty. Its performance is like a sugarrush!
Ubuntu users with netbooks received a double benefit with the finalrelease from Canonical. The Remix version not only contains the Karmiccode upgrade, but it also has a revamped interface that better displaysapplications on 8-inch to 10-inch LCD screens.
However, netbook users had better love this new interface, because unlikethe previous Remix versions, the desktop switch feature is gone.Unfortunately for me, I hate the Remix desktop, which is too much likenavigating a smartphone or a PDA. I much prefer the standard Gnomedesktop on the netbook screen.
Almost every review of the new Ubuntu desktop release has spoken praise forthe upgrade. I too am mostly pleased with Karmic Koala. The fewshortcomings it has will no doubt be resolved with patches.
Installation on my desktop computer was smooth and quick. This is akey accomplishment. Some previous Ubuntu upgrades required wiping andrepartitioning the hard drive to do a virgin install. But this time,after the computer rebooted, the Gnome desktop was intact, along withall of my pre-existing system and application settings.
Of course, the tougher upgrade will still have to be done if the installed version is older than 9.04. From inserting the DVD to system reboot took three hoursand 18 minutes. Not so with the netbook, however.
The Canonical development team could well rename the Remix version of Ubuntu 9.10 “Klumsy Koala.” The netbook, when new, was rated Ubuntu Certified. I hadto reinstall that first Remix distribution to solve a system glitch.That reinstallation was filled with problems.
The upgrade to the previous Remix version, 9.04, required twoattempts, so all of the settings were wiped out. The same thinghappened on this latest upgrade. The netbook failed to reboot, issuingerror messages that some libraries were corrupted.
It took me hours of manually installing and configuring settings andsoftware downloads. But the result is that 9.10 Remix is finally workingalmost flawlessly.
Much of the improvement built into Ubuntu 9.10 is found under thehood. For instance, it runs on version 2.6.31 of the Linux kernel andhas the latest version of the Gnome desktop.
Happily, it also has the Firefox 3.5 Web browser. This temporarilyresolves one of my lingering annoyances with the Ubuntu OS. Thedevelopers continue to block the Firefox upgrade feature, so I have towait until a distant software upgrade provided by the Ubuntu communityfor newer Firefox versions.
The Ubuntu upgrade also includes version 3.1 of the OpenOffice.org suite asits default office software. But the same upgrade delay happens with thispackage. The Ubuntu folks seem overly protective about the integrityof some packages they don’t control.
A big disappointment in the Ubuntu 9.04 was the way hibernation andsuspend modes did not work. Depending on the hardware, you couldn’tget the machine to resume. Or if it did resume, it did so without anInternet or network connection. So you had to restart the OS.
Version 9.10 has those problems solved — now if only the code writers couldonly achieve that goal in the Remix version so the battery status icondid not show the battery as discharging when it was running on AC.
This version of the free Linux OS makes it quick and easy to join thecloud storage phenomenon. The Ubuntu One feature is a Web syncservice that provides 2 GB of online disk space and lets yousynchronize notes and contacts as well as share files between severalcomputers. If more space is needed, 50 GB only costs US$10 per month.
A new package called “Empathy” integrates Yahoo, Gmail, MSN, Jabber,AOL, QQ and more. It also connects with email accounts and has anaddress book and a calendar that rivals Microsoft Outlook.
Boot time is much quicker in this new version. The OS is available in23 languages; over 400 free, completely cool games that lookfantastic are available as well.
Perhaps the most significant enhancement for the typical Ubuntu useris the new Software Center application. The previous software managerapp, Add/Remove Applications, is still available. You can also findthousands of free and open source software packages using three orfour other download engines once you add them.
However, the Software Center gives more details on thousands of free andopen source applications. Clicking on a “next page” arrow opens aninstall or remove option. Categories include Education, Games, Soundand Video, Graphics, Programming and Office.
By far, the interface used in the Software Center is one of theeasiest systems available in Linux to browse software titles anddescriptions.
Clearly, this latest Ubuntu distribution is well worth the upgrade.Long-time Ubuntu users will not be disappointed. The Karmic Koala issnazzy enough to make Mac and Windows users seriously considerswitching.
So many more improvements are in the 9.10 code that the list is toolengthy to include here. So we will close with a brief highlightedaccounting of what else is new:
- Revamped audio for improved sound control across multiple applications
- Disk encryption, stronger AppArmor system permissions, and cloudservice integration
- A home directory encryption option at installation that lays ontop of the file system and targets specific system folders instead ofencrypting everything
- New video driver technology boosts performance for Intel-based graphics