Ubuntu 10.10

As the most current review I’ve written for a Linux OS, the first thing you may notice is that I’ve changed the title for this review.  Previous reviews have been titled “Linux Review:…”, while here I simply title it as an Ubuntu review.  Why the change?  I realized that it isn’t a really big deal that Ubuntu is running the Linux kernel.  It could run BSD, etc. and it would still be Ubuntu.  For most people, they’ll just want to know that it’s something different from Windows or OS X.  Like any other Linux distro, Ubuntu is its own ecosystem, as much as it borrows from the hard work of Debian, Red Hat, etc.  This is certainly not a slight against Ubuntu, as that as is the spirit of open-source software, and without that attitude and licenses to allow it, none of these distros would be around.

As the first release since the 10.04 LTS release, I was hoping for some cutting-edge features to grace 10.10.  While there are some refinements, overall there isn’t a whole lot of “new” in this release.  That’s certainly not a bad thing, but I was hoping for something a little more bold.

The biggest feature that I seemed to notice in this release is the inclusion of the new Ubuntu font (link).  Unlike Red Hat’s Liberation fonts, this font wasn’t meant to be a replacement for another font.  In fact, at first glance you can see it’s quite different from a normal font.   At first I didn’t think I would like it, but as I started to use it, I found I actually preferred it more often.  It hasn’t replaced my favorite font of all time (Courier New) but it’s pretty darn close.  They are even working on a Monospace variant, so I can use this gorgeous font while using a text editor.

Other than that, I honestly can’t see anything drastically different besides some bumped up version numbers on the software.  OpenOffice is still in, but the next release will use LibreOffice instead.  These days I find myself using Gedit and AbiWord more often, as I just don’t need many features.  I’m hoping for a big performance improvement as LibreOffice development ramps up.  GIMP is still not included by default, so I have to make sure to include that in my initial addition list in Synaptic Package Manager.

The main thing I’m happy with in this release is that simply everything works as-is.  My wireless card works, while a driver isn’t even available for Windows 7.  I can install Dropbox and Google Chrome just fine.  All of my music is added and can be played in Rhythmbox.  When I built my new PC, I knew it was going to be a work system and not for gaming, as I do plenty of that on consoles.  There are some games I’d like to download and try out (Nexuiz, Alien Arena, etc.) but otherwise my GTS450 will just be for providing a good-looking and snappy interface.  Eventually web browsers and perhaps the new Unity interface will put that card to better use.  I do hope that the next release of Ubuntu pushes forward a little more aggressively, but I do know that until it’s been out for awhile I’ll be quite happy with Ubuntu 10.10 as my OS of choice.

Speaking of the new Unity interface, the next version of Ubuntu that’s currently in development will definitely be bringing in some huge changes.  Will these be changes that I’ll like, or will I need to disable it or even look at a KDE-centered distro?  I look forward to testing it out once it hits Beta, but until then I have a very stable and useable PC with Ubuntu 10.10.