Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. The best Ubuntu till now. Period.

Having tried the Alpha 5 in September and finding it stable and fast in my laptop, I was very eager to try the official release.
If reading the rest bores you, the verdict in 2 words is:
it rocks!!
And yes, the brown-orange theme has finally gone away!!

Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope had nice improvements such as the ext4 filesystem, which offered faster boot times among other advantages and the cool redesigned notification system, the disaster of the Intel graphics driver made it unusable to 50% of laptops... Having this terrible regression fixed by switching to the new UXA acceleration method, what new does Karmic Koala brought that made me and everyone else write dithyrambic reviews???
(Apart from trolls and Ubuntu-haters...)

First of all, ext4 has now matured enough and it is the default option on a new installation. It makes the boot process a lot faster, which is a big plus especially to netbooks.
In Karmic Koala, apart from the under the hood technical improvements, there were leaps in usability.

Usability improvements:
During the development of Karmic Koala, the 100 papercuts project started with the aim to fix minor annoyances, which experienced users wouldn't notice any more, but are visible to newcomers and adding up they could make a noticeable difference in usability.
While Ubuntu is being installed, there is a slideshow that guides users to the programs they need to use(Empathy for IM, Evolution for emails, F-Spot for photo album...) and most importantly to the Software Center in order to install programs. Amen!!!Finally the new Ubuntu user can figure out how to install a program without having to find someone who has done it before or ask in forums.The Software Center is a much improved version of the old Add/Remove(which many assumed that it was mainly for Uninstalling programs, like in the "intuitive" windows) and has the big advantage of fetching a screenshot of each application to help the user find what he/she wants among the thousands of available applications. It is also lays the necessary infrastructure for Companies to sell their applications, in the likes of the Android market.
(Software Center, new theme, "humanity" icons and cool notifications)

New Artwork:
The artwork finally improved considerably, with a fancier boot screen and a very cool -in my opinion- GDM login screen. As for the notification system, it dims & blurs when you hover the mouse over it and it simply looks awesome!!! I really hope it makes way upstream to Gnome, so every Gnome based distro will have it. The Human theme was updated and it is dark brown instead of the much criticized brown-orange of previous versions and there are other themes you can actually use(in the past versions, I haven't heard of a single person in the world to have ever used Crux theme for more than a day...). The new Humanity icons are far superior to the mundane Human icons of the previous versions and there are abundant wallpapers to choose from vs the only 2-3 wallpapers in the past.

Ubuntu One client preinstalled: Ubuntu One can be very useful for sharing files between Ubuntu PCs. Unfortunately if you use other OSs apart from Ubuntu , you won't find the appropriate client for them...But you can still use the Web GUI to get a file you need or upload something. The more frequent use I can find for Ubuntu One is syncing files between my home PC and my netbook, which runs Ubuntu Netbook Remix.
(Ubuntu One web interface)

Default applications:
The deafault applications are in their newest versions: Firefox 3.5, OpenOffice 3.1, Gnome 2.28 and kernel 2.6.31.Kubuntu comes with KDE 4.3.2, which has the awesome, the best theme ever "Air", to which win7 theme looks suspiciously alike (good move by MS!). If someone would make a Gnome rip-off theme of "KDE Air" I would immediately use it, in place of anything else. Unfortunately Kubuntu doesn't come with all the improvements of Ubuntu, such as the Software Center.
Netbook users will prefer the UNR edition (Ubuntu Netbook Remix), whose interface was revamped to be even easier to use in the small netbook screens.
(Ubuntu Netbook Remix, new simpler-to-use interface design)
There is also the server edition, but personally I'll wait for 10.04, which will be an LTS version with 5 year support for servers. Till then my 8.04 install will keep serving me, as it has without failure for the last 1,5 year. For anyone who wants to set up a new server, it is a good choice because you can get official paid support from Canonical should you want to, and it also has Eucalyptus infastructure for deploying your Ubuntu installation to Amazon Servers.

The Future:
Next Ubuntu version 10.04 "Lucid Lynx" will be a Long Term Support(LTS) version and will receive 5 years of support for servers and 3 years for all other editions. Since it will be an LTS version, the primary goal will be maximum stability, which will make it a good choice for OEMs to include in their products. The artwork design will once again improve, as well as the usability with another launch of the "100 papercuts" project. Currently, no radical new features have been announced and there probably won't be any, since ext4 is already the default file system and the next generation BTRFS is still under heavy development. Gnome 3.0 with the totally redisigned Gnome-shell won't make it for the same reason(not mature enough for an LTS version) but it will be available in the repositories.
In the netbook field, Ubuntu Moblin remix will be released as well as the awesome (I have used awesome too many times, haven't I? But it's worth it ) looking Kubuntu Netbook Remix, which will be the best looking netbook OS by a long shot.

(Kubuntu Netbook. Was I exaggerating of it being awesome??
I think simply "awesome" is actually an understatement!)

So what are you waiting for?? Download Ubuntu today and give it a try.