Ubuntu 11.04, code named “Natty Narwhal, released recently, has got a new look and feel for Ubuntu and has taken a major step in the right direction attracting both the desktop and netbook users. The Linux Kernel 2.6.38 which includes a patch that boosts the performance of the kernel across desktops is part of Natty and users upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 can also expect great performance improvements.
Unquestionably, the new Unity Interface is the most appreciated by the users and it is said that for new users, the features are so intuitive making it easy to adapt. Ubuntu 11.04 ships with Compiz that offers settings such as Backlight always on, launcher animations, urgent animations, and special window transparency options. Those users who had considered Unity slow and buggy and as a major drawback of Ubuntu now agree that it is on par with other major desktop experience.
The new launcher that sits on the left-hand side of your screen is to make getting to the favourite tools and applications quick and easy. The new Unity interface supports drag and drop, providing easier file management.
The new dashboard, that appears when you click on the Ubuntu logo on the top-left corner, makes it simpler to access shortcuts and search for applications and programs. Now you get fast and easy access to email, music, pictures and others.
The Workspaces, enables by clicking the Workspaces icon in the launcher, simplify managing multiple windows (keeping track of open windows). By using Workspaces, you can make all your active spaces to pop up and easily move different windows.
But since the new interface has quite a few significant changes, earlier users can avoid it and continue using the earlier Classic Interface instead. It is also pointed out that the new interface is quite welcome and worth getting used to. More details on Unity at.
The new Unity Interface is based on Compiz that relies heavily on OpenGL and it creates a problem working with low-end graphic cards (which impacts Ubuntu’s know ability of running on most PCs including the ones with outdated configurations). Unity 2D project, https://launchpad.net/unity-2d, aims to provide a Unity environment on hardware platforms that don’t support Unity’s Open GL requirements.
Banshee 2.0 (instead of Rhythmbox) is the default music player in Ubuntu 11.04. As pointed out in http://banshee.fm/download/archives/2.0.0/, it has taken six months of 36 developers and can be considered quite successful in both the aspects of bug fixes and new features. Banshee 2.0 provides Artist/Album Browser Track Actions, ‘Play After’ Queue options, video support, audiobooks support etc. There are some doubts raised about the stability of Banshee compared to Rhythmbox (mainly based on experience of earlier versions) but most point out that the new features make Banchee match up with the competing products like iTunes and Windows Media Player.
LibreOffice, the forked office suite with the same features as OpenOffice, is the default office suite in Ubuntu 11.04. LibreOffice team effort in cleaning up the code, and provide a more frequent update and bug fixes (compared to OpenOffice, especially after the taking over of Sun by Oracle) is quite appreciated by one and all.
Ubuntu One, that provides 2GB of space for keeping one’s files on the cloud allowing users to access their contacts, notes, or bookmarks from any computer with an internet connection is now got a better user interface and well integrated with Ubuntu.
Ubuntu, that is available for free (really), can be downloaded to a CD and run without having to install it in the machine. With it becoming quite easy to use, it is expected most users who try would ultimately install it. Ubuntu installation using Ubiquity now includes options to Install side by side (dual boot), Upgrade, or Replace an existing Ubuntu Installation. The lack of viruses and worms – compared to other major desktop OSes – is another factor expected to boost Ubuntu usage.
Ubuntu 11.04 seems to be really on the way to make “Linux Desktop Mainstream” as originally discussed in http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/enterprise-IT-tech-trends/ubuntu-linux-desktop-becoming-mainstream/.]]>
While other vendors are actively pursuing Mobiles and innovation surrounding it, Dell and Canonical are driving innovation in the desktop, notebook and laptop space. There are ongoing debates on Ubuntu ranging from Canonical Ubuntu being seen as a threat to Microsoft, one-third of Dell notebooks being sold with Ubuntu pre-installed, Ubuntu being used as one another OS in the desktop and not possibly as a replacement for Windows and also about the market share of Ubuntu still not significant enough to be considered mainstream. In spite of all that, definitely Ubuntu has raised sufficient interest about Linux becoming a successful desktop OS.
The term Ubuntu sounds quite unique and so tried to trace the source of it and came to this. Ubuntu is a South African ethical ideology focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. A rough translation of the principle of Ubuntu is “humanity towards others” or “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.
Canonical website says “Ubuntu is an entirely open source operating system built around the Linux Kernel. The ideals of Ubuntu Philosophy is that: software should be available free of charge, software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit”.
The philosophy indeed sounds good especially when seen in relation to the mobile OS space. While Apple is closed and proprietary raising concerns of vendor lock-in and Google’s Android being open but misused by the telecom service providers who load the instrument with their own software – closed and proprietary – and charging the customers.
From Enterprise context, they say “Ubuntu will always be free of charge, and there is no extra fee for the enterprise edition”. I guess we have to wait and watch to see how much of this they stand by when the adoption really gets significant.
Ubuntu aims at providing the best in translations and accessibility features with the intention of making it usable for as many people as possible. As in any other open community initiative, Ubuntu invites help from the community especially in translating to local languages.
Ubuntu is based on Debian Linux – widely acclaimed, technologically advanced and well supported – and aims to provide an up-to-date linux distribution for desktop as well as server computing. The key strength is the powerful package management system that allows easy installation and clean removal of programs. Ubuntu is shipped with only limited list of packages and aims at providing less number of widely used applications of high quality.
Ubuntu is released regularly – and a new release is made every six months. There are two views to it that frequent releases are leading to buggy software putting off traditional Linux supporters and the other view that the longer term – like 18 months of Red hat – is more suitable for server OS whereas the Desktop users like to have the latest. Since each release is supported for at least 18 months and enterprise edition supported for 3 years, the users do have a choice of using the latest or the relatively bug-free earlier versions.
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, recently announced the release of uTouch 1.0, Ubuntu’s multi-touch and gesture stack. The multitouch interface that enables the device to detect several simultaneous contact points with a touch screen or trackpad is prominent on iPhone, iPad and Mac laptops. And slowly this more intuitive and physical way of interacting with the computer is gaining as a mainstream approach. This is seen as the response of Canonical to the growing mobile market by bringing the natural tactile experience of the world to the Linux desktop and future innovations are also expected to toe the mobile line.
With Ubuntu 10.10, users and developers have an end-to-end touch-screen framework – from the kernel to the applications. The stack includes an open source gesture recognition engine and gesture APIs that enable applications to obtain and use gesture events from the uTouch gesture engine.
While some see this move of Ubuntu would enable it to improve its market foothold, doubts on how inituitive these gestures are and concerns on lack of standards in this area are being raised. The next releases can be expected to address these more effectively. According to Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical:
Canonical has an impressive list of partners especially so in the cloud space. It also has implementation partners across the globe.
Considering all these, the possibility of Open Source and GNU based Linux getting its due share in the desktop space seems more probable than ever before.]]>