So the next update with Ubuntu dropped yesterday. Usually I will wait a week or two before I begin updating my machines. You hear of terrible waits, days + in upgrading. This time, though, shortly after the upgrade was posted, I began to upgrade. I figured I would start with the Dell Vostro 1320. I dual boot it with Windows 7 and did have a Unity-ish dock on it, so I knew how the video card would perform.
So the upgrade took about 25 minutes. Shocking! It downloaded quickly and then installed quickly as well. After a reboot, I got to work.
First thing to look at: Unity. Ubuntu’s new dock/application organizer. I use Rocket Dock on the Windows side and had used Docky on the Ubuntu side. A dock is just a necessity these days. So what do I think of Unity? So far so good. I like the dock on the left side, so that is a win. I still do not know all the ins and outs with it, but slowly, I am learning. I installed Compiz Config Settings Manager so I could change some things with Unity. The dock? Originally the icons were HUGE. I downsized them a little. I put in some other apps, and away I went.
Ubuntu 11.04 now ships with Libre Office. Just in case you were under a rock, when Oracle (in my Axis of Evil) bought Sun, many on the Open Office team saw nothing good from those upgrades. A small faction left Oracle/Sun and developed The Document Foundation. Their chief task was to use Open Office code, generate a new app, Libre Office, and in essence fork the most popular open source document application. It does not look too different yet, but I like going with it now.
No other real big deals outside of those two. Looking forward, Unity will allow Ubuntu to drop things like Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) that they designed for netbooks and tablets. While Unity will definitely allow for a nice touchscreen experience, I fear it may be too late for wide traction. There is this green alien guy out there on millions of devices already. I do think this again separates Ubuntu from all other Linux distros, and it takes a large step away from the status quo. I look forward to see how these things develop in the future.
So 11.04 will drop in a few weeks. With it will be the desktop version of Unity, the little bar on the left of the screen that will control your apps. Those of you using docks (like Docky) will make an easy transition to Unity. I used it on an Alpha release, and liked that, so the new version should work fine.
We did hear word this week that Ubuntu 11.04 will end the Ubuntu Netbook Remix. UNR, basically, is Unity on a netbook. So I guess Canonical will not end UNR, but simply fold it into Ubuntu. Makes sense too, to try and reduce confusion for which version to use. When you already see Edubuntu (which was sort of folded into Ubuntu), Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and others, you want to reduce confusion. Since Unity will support netbooks, desktops, and tablets, it makes a lot of sense to move all instances to 11.04. I will be excited to see the finished product, as I really like the Alpha I ran. I can only assume the finished product will work even smoother.
So time to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.10, also known as Maverick Meerkat. Not too many earth-shattering upgrades this time, but I can proudly say that short of a self-inflicted error, no issues on upgrades on the XPS 400 desktop, nor the dual-booting Vostro 1320. So on that laptop, I can dual boot Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.10. Pretty neat. And a large improvement over the days where I would upgrade a version, and would need to spend a week tweaking things like wifi. The main culprit, the Inspiron E1705, has not yet received the upgrade. I will probably try that sometime soon.
The main difference is the shift from FSpot to Shotwell for photo management. I did not use FSpot (difficult and not intuitive) and I doubt I will use Shotwell. I am a Picasa guy for management, so this is a non-issue for me. Shotwell does try to bring itself more in line with Picasa, but it is still rough around the edges.
So not much really to report on in Meerkat. I believe the real change will possibly come with Natty Narwhal, 11.04, where Ubuntu will move away from Gnome as a desktop manager in favor of Unity. That could really change everything, either for the good or bad, time will tell. They will also shift from Open Office to Libre Office, in favor of The Document Foundation. We know the politics there! Circle April, 2011 for our next Ubuntu review!
October arrives, and we know it, not because of the cooler days, the leaves falling, or the pumpkins. No, we know October arrives because of the newest Ubuntu version. This October marks 10.10, which was released on 10.10.10, Maverick Meerkat. This release does not offer a lot of cool new features, but especially on the netbook version, you will find some new things.
The biggest change is the Unity Interface for the Ubuntu Netbook Remix.
Definitely a step in the right direction. I almost think this could replace my personal need for the dock on the left side. Left-handedness, I guess. I do the same thing with Windows 7 and RocketDock. So with all the Ubuntu netbooks our school has, I will probably work toward replacing the old interface with Unity as we upgrade OS. Will probably work well on eeePCs.
Besides that, not too many new changes in 10.10. They replaced FSpot, the image organizer, with Shotwell. Lots of comments on this, most saying Shotwell contains a lot of great features, but does not seem ready for primetime yet. You will also find some changes with the Ubuntu One integration and the notification system. As I reviewed in a previous post, Ubuntu One can come to your mobile device and Windows machine now. I see more of that coming.
Just another good, sturdy release. Many bugfixes, which, while not reportable, definitely help continue to bring Linux on the desktop to more computers. Next up, the Narwhal, Ubuntu’s 11.04 version due out in March, 2011.