Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

May 9 2011   3:28AM GMT

Ubuntu 11.04, another milestone in making Linux desktop Mainstream

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

Ubuntu 11.04, another milestone in making Linux desktop Mainstream

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working with low-end graphic cards (which impacts Ubuntu’s know ability of running on most PCs including the ones with outdated configurations).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/.

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