[ Thursday, 30 October 2008, Adrianot ]
Ubuntu 8.10 has been installed on my computer for over two weeks now. The tests began with beta version through RC and finished with the final release today. Usually I do not install test versions, however, favourable opinions of my friends convinced me it was worth trying. I have to admit, I am not disappointed with the latest version of Ubuntu, 8.10. And here is why.
The author of the review is Adrian Nowak who maintains the Ubuntu blog UbuCentrum.net
Installation & Upgrade
I have Ubuntu installed on two computers. On the first, there is a fresh installation and the second has an upgrade of previous version.
Upgrading has always been connected with a certain risk of failure. I have often encountered the situation where a system did not start after attempting an upgrade. It was exactly the opposite this time. The newest Ubuntu loaded even few seconds faster the previous one.
The minor flaw is that one needs to download almost 1Gb of packages which takes a lot of time.
The installation routine of Ubuntu 8.10 looks almost the same as of the previous version. The only innovation is a refreshed and colourful partition manager. The new appearance of it should make this highly liked by newbies, as it makes partitioning far more pleasant.
There are no new applications in Ubuntu 8.10. As indicated earlier, improving the already available applications and services was the main goal. So, as far as improvements in the apps are concerned, there are dozens of them.
One of interesting changes is new versin of NetworkManager which includes the long awaited support of 3G networks. Nautilius is now equipped with tabs support, just like internet browsers such as Firefox. Furthermore the newer versions of popular apps such as GIMP or OpenOffice.org can be found in the system (although OpenOffice.org 3.0 didn’t make it into Ubuntu 8.10).
Introduction of a guest account in Ubuntu is in my opinion a perfect decision. It highly influences the safety level or the system. Almost everyone has at least once made his computer available to his family or friends. Any user who is logged in at the moment has the access to all the users personal data, including browser history. Very often, in the case when the browser remembers the passwords and cookies, logging on the internet services’ accounts is possible, including mail accounts.
The guest account helps to prevent the risk, and limit the functionality of the system to the minimum for temporary users. The restrictions are really strong as the guest has almost no rights. What is interesting, the guest account is not able to save any files on the hard drive permanently, as the guest account is tempory, and is fully erased after logging out.
Encryption of home directory
Another interesting function which positively influences the safety of the system is the encryption of the home directory. Only the specific user gains access to this folder. It is a long awaited function. One does not need to install TrueCrypt any more, however the inbuilt ciphering functions will not satisfy all the privacy freaks
Although many users will not see any difference in the default appearance of the system, huge progress was done on this field. A darker theme has been simultaneously developed with the default one. It is installed with the system and can be set in the appearance menu. The darker theme should positively influence not only the aesthetic qualities, but should also reduce eye strain by not having to look at bright surfaces.
The Ubuntu (or GNOME?) teams are still touching up the interface of the system. A new function will be available after installation of Ubuntu 8.10 called: “change system status”. This sounds weird but all it does is changing the status in several messengers at once, thanks to the redesigned switch off menu.
In my opinion, the decision to focus on the evolution and bug fixes instead of stuffing too many (often unstable) packages into this release of Ubuntu, is a correct one. After over two weeks of using Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex I can state it is a carefully prepared and stable system. It is difficult to find any bugs in it, which is a novelty, as far as previous versions are concerned. Thanks to a new kernel, Intrepid is able to manage majority of hardware, which demolishes another argument (myth) of Linux opponents and makes Ubuntu a perfect system for computer novices.