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Ubuntu 10.4 “Lucid Lynx” Review

September 2, 2010 Leave a comment

This post is been migrated to INITCRON.org

Asthetics

This is a huge improvement over past versions of Ubuntu.  Gone is the dreadful orange/brown theme of yesteryear.  In is the new, super smooth dark look and feel. The new look of Ubuntu is classy.  Elegant. Refined. I would call it far more pleasing to the eye (in an “ahhh, that’s soothing” sort of way) than Windows 7 or MacOS X 10.6.  Of course that is a purely subjective thing, but that’s my take after sitting in front of all of these operating systems every day.  Ubuntu 10.04 is just plain easier on the eye.  Almost… calming. There have, of course, been some controversy around the new look.  Specifically the fact that the window buttons (close, minimize, etc.) have now been moved to the left side of the windows.  This… has made some people cranky. I, myself, was one of those people.  I disliked the change.  But I am now used to it and consider it not a big deal.  It certainly isn’t a deal breaker.  In fact there are already tutorials for how to move those buttons back to the right hand side.

Nixie Pixel\’s Ubuntu 10.4 Review

Performance

But what about beyond the desktop? How does Ubuntu 10.04 actually run? First and foremost, boot time is astounding.  I was surprised to see the winning result  for ubuntu boot time on a poll to be  30-59 seconds. Most Linux distributions are striving for that magical 10 second number and Ubuntu 10.4 is incredibly close. My recent installation of Ubuntu 10.04 was coming in at around 15 seconds. The addition of Samba pushed that number to a whopping 23 seconds. Now that is time from bios post to actually having a usable desktop – not just seeing the desktop and waiting for everything to finish loading so I can use it.

And just how is it once it is up and running? It is  Fast. Stable. In fact, I would be willing to say this is the most stable Ubuntu I have used. I have yet to witness a single glitch, hiccup, or crash. And I have been beating the heck out of this installation. I guess the best thing to say about Ubuntu 10.04 under the hood is that it is about as solid a desktop Linux release you will see. There have been some changes made including the switch from starting daemons from /etc/init.d/ to DAEMON start/stop/restart where DAEMON is the name of the daemon you are wanting to start. But all of those changes were made in the name of making Linux even easier.

Integrated Social Networking and Media

Lets talk for a moment about the new “Me Menu”.By default it sits in the upper right hand side of your screen.  And, from there, you have quick access to your instant messaging accounts (via Empathy, my favorite little IM client). That, by itself, is nice.  Not earth shattering.  But handy enough to be worth while.But you’ll also notice a “Broadcast Account” option there.  From this one spot you can post updates (simultaneously) to Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and more. WOW !!

Once set up you will also receive message alerts from these services in the form of nice looking system notifications.  Plus, with the pre-loaded Gwibber, you can directly interact with all of these services. This takes Ubuntu from being a totally acceptable platform for interacting with social media  to become the platform for interacting with social media.  The other platforms don’t even come close.

It is simple, elegant and very well designed.

Ubuntu Software Center

I’ve often lamented  about the lack of a good, easy to use software store application for modern Linux distributions.  This is, I feel, one of the biggest things that can be done to further Linux as a desktop platform.  And with Ubuntu 10.4   it’s not here yet. But it’s getting closer.  With this release, the ubuntu software center  has become my favorite way to find and install new software.  It’s fast.  The user interface is clean and easy to navigate.  Finding new applications is incredibly easy.  Certainly a huge improvement over solutions such as synaptic and cli based apt.

The public plan was that the ability to purchase commercial (non-Free) software via the Ubuntu Software Center with the Ubuntu 10.10 release later this year.  And, if their progress with 10.04 is any indication, they seem to be right on track.

Revamped Ubuntu One

Ubuntu One,  Canonical’s online file storage service (similar in many ways to services such as DropBox) has been integrated far more tightly in this new release. It now auto-magically syncs your contacts, Tomboy notes and bookmarks across all of your Ubuntu powered machines. And, of course, it still provides 2gb of free storage for every Ubuntu user.  (For $10 per month you can upgrade  to 50gb of storage, syncing with mobile phones and Windows/Mac desktop applications). In my testing (using the free version of Ubuntu One) this worked astoundingly well.  Syncing of data was incredibly fast and getting setup was a snap. Will I be switching away from DropBox (which I have been a loyal customer of for some time)?  It’s looking that way.

The Ubuntu One Music Store

Continuing on the theme of expanded Ubuntu O ne services, Canonical has introduced the Ubuntu One Music Store. The prices are reasonable (typically seeming a little cheaper than iTunes), and the files are all provided in DRM-free MP3 format. In an interesting twist, when you purchase songs from the Ubuntu Music Store, those songs are download directly into your Ubuntu One online storage.  Which makes all of your music available on all of your Ubuntu-powered PC’s without needing to manually re-download or copy over your music. Which is, I must say, fairly awesome.  Plus, the store seems to work great.  Good speed.  Good sound quality.

Long Term Support (LTS)

10.4  is a LTS version, which means Ubuntu will officially support it for 3 years, untill April 2013 and release updates , pataches and security fixes. This is specially useful from the enterprise deployments.

Canonical has done a wonderful job as always with  ubuntu 10.4 LTS aka Lucid Lynx .

Miro : Watching YouTube Videos Made Offline and Simple

July 29, 2008 1 comment

This post is been migrated to INITCRON.org

Are you tired of waiting till your favorite yououtube video stream is being buffered to avoid jitters?  Are you looking for an application to save youtube videos offline and watch them at your convenience
later? Do you want to save multiple parts of a video and watch it as a whole in one go? …. Try Miro.

Miro is an application which turns your computer into an internet TV video player. It has a concept of channels whereas viewers could browse through thousands of channels available and subscripbe to them and receive regular feeds downloaded at your desktop, some of the most popular being ‘National Geographic Video Shorts’, Discovery Channels Video Podcasts, Cartoons, Spanish Learning Channel etc.

Here are few interesting features available with Miro:

1. Watch YouTube Videos: One can search, download and watch YouTube videos and videos from maany more video streaming sites such as Google Videos, Yahoo Videos, Blogdigger, Blip.tv, DailyMotion. The application actually downloads the videos to harddisk, making it available to be watched offline. By default the video expires in 5 days, which can be changed with option to store it permanently on the drive.

2. Video Player: Miro also acts as a video player for the internet videos. It uses embedded player such as gstreamer, xine in linux and vlc on windows, and quicktime on Mac to play the videos. One could
actually watch videos in fullscreen mode, which apparently looks better than that watching it on youtube. And users could play videos, which generally come in the parts, as if it is a single video.

3. Cross Platform: Miro is a Open Source Software, released under GPL License, and is avaialble on Linux, Windows, and Mac Operating Systems.

4. Widely Supported Formats: Miro supports a wide range of video formats including MPEG, Quicktime, AVI, H,264, Divx, Windows Media, Flash Video(Youtube Videos) and many more.

5. Channels and Automatic Video Downloads: Miro comes with an in built channel guide, which users can brows through and select thier favourite channels. Once added, users can configure miro to download videos automatically as and when added.

6. Podcasts Compatible: You could add your podcasts that you have been downloading automatically with itunes so far, to Miro as a channel. Once added, all new podcasts can be downloaded automatically.

7. Share: Users could search videos, watch them and share with friends using social sites such as del.icio, digg, reddit etc.

Even though its released as a beta, overall, Miro is a wonderful app to have on your desktop.

Ubuntu 8.04 LTS ‘Hardy Heron’ – You’ll never go back

April 24, 2008 5 comments

This post is been migrated to INITCRON.org

The much awaited version of ubuntu, named ‘Hardy Heron’ (ubuntu 8.04) is officially been launched today. “You’ll never go back” is what canonical says on their official website http://www.ubuntu.com . Ubuntu releases LTS (Long Term Support) every two years and provides 3 years and 5 years of support respectively for desktop and server editions. Last one of the series was Ubuntu LTS 6.06, released in June 2006. In addition to LTS, ubuntu has a smaller release cycle of 6 months which are supported for a year and half, last one being 7.10 ‘Gutsy Gibbon’.

Features

Here are some feature highlights for the latest ubuntu version,

  • internet toolsFirefox 3 beta 5 : Improved browsing speeds : lightweight Mozilla Firefox 3 Beta 5 means faster browsing with improved performance and less use of RAM as compared to the older versions of the firefox which were memory hogger and slower.  Some of the noticeable features of new firefox are  it allows you to bookmark, and subscribe to the rss feeds directly from the address bar, shows summary of the website while you are typing the address, shows recently closed tabs  etc. Click on  View -> Switch Page Direction, and see everything getting aligned to the right hand side.
  • Wubi : Painless Migration From Windows : Are you a windows user and always been wanted to give linux a spin ?? Then wubi is a bless to you (http://wubi-installer.org). All you need to do is, run wubi’s exe file. It will install ubuntu as any other windows application, without disturbing your windows partitions and prepares you to boot into ubuntu after a reboot. Wubi installs ubuntu on the top of windows as a large file. If one chooses to get rid of ubuntu, they could remove it like any other application from add/remove programs.
  • Gnome 2.22 : Enhanced User Experience : Gnome 2.22 comes with improved look and feel, new applications such as cheese (needs to be installed as an additional package gnomeon ubuntu), new networked filesystem GVFS which overcomes GNOME VFS shortcomings, improved support for DVD and digitial TV, international clock, remote desktop viewer and many more enhancements to make user experience. One thing clearly missing is the gnome-control-center. Its just disappeared from the menu. To open the control center, one has to open a terminal and type in gnome-control-center to open it.
  • Dash : Better System Performance : since 6.10 , ubuntu has changed the default system shell to dash(the Debian Almquist Shell) instead of /bin/sh to improve overall system persormance. This might cause few scripts to break though for users who are migrating from 6.06 LTS to 8.04 LTS.
  • Multimedia : Get…Set….Go in minutes : The latest version of ubuntu installing codecsmakes it smoother to play any audio/video formats quickly.  If the codec for a particular format is not present, it immediately fires up synaptic and asks your permission to install the codec. All it takes is a couple of clicks and you are ready to get on with your music/videos.  Certainly saves a time and efforts for newbies.  Installing flash plugin was a piece of cake as well unlike the older version of ubuntu where one had to install it manually. Default audio player comes with magnatune, jamendo stores as additional features. For video playback, I would still recommend using mplayer.
  • System Hibernate : I could successfully put my laptop to hibernate mode and bring it back, which I could not do with the older versions.
  • Hardware Testing : This is a utility which serves a its purpose well. You can run it from hardware testingSystem -> Administration -> Hardware Testing. It gathers information about your hardware, runs  manual tests to verify your hardware (audio, network controllers, screen resolution, mouse, video, keyboard, internet connection)  works and submits information to launchpad if you have an account. It is recommended you submit the results to launchpad in order to assist  developers fraternity to come up with better hardware support.

Issues

Is the new version of Ubuntu comes without any bugs and issues?? Ubuntu flolks claim hardy heron is the most stable and fastest ubuntu ever. Neverthless, I could see the following issues with my copy of installation atleast.

  • System hangs after opening multiple applications. I just opened around 10 lightweight apps, and before even using them, it got hung. Strange enough, my mouse was cruising smoothly all over the screen, but not a single application was responding. Does not look like a load issue, most likely a gnome/app bug.
  • NetworkManager restart ‘ in a terminal fails to restart network manager.