rakhesh shows …

April 18, 2006

Looking Ahead: Ubuntu Linux 6.06

Filed under: Links — rakhesh @ 1:23 pm

Ubuntu is a pretty interesting Linux distribution isn’t it? I mean, no other take on Linux has shot so high so fast. Nobody has single-handedly turned the desktop Linux world over on its ear like Ubuntu has. Nobody. What makes it so special? What sets it apart from the hundreds of other distros on the market today? Well, we’re here to take a look at the latest pre-release copy of what is to become Ubuntu 6.06… Flight 5. §

A very nice review of Ubuntu Dapper. Really. I had given Flight 3 a shot, and didnt like it — too slow, things not working as expected, etc etc. But this review made me feel like trying it again. So I did. And I must say I am quite pleased with the way Flight 5 is. And the review helped me realize where all Dapper is making a diff — the icons, theme, etc etc. Dapper really is good. I now have both Breezy and Dapper installed.

So far when I used to try Ubuntu, I was under the impression its a Linux for humans, and so it would make things damn easy etc etc. So I used to get really irritated when I have to resort to the command-line, or keep installing extra packages to do some obvious tasks (like edit the menu for instance).  I mean, I might as well install Debian then!

But now I figure that Ubuntu does try to make things a bit different from Debian. For one, its the safest and easiest way to keep trying out Debian Sid. I have Debian Etch (that’s the name for the current "testing" branch) installed as of now, and while I would like to try Sid, I am unsure coz I’d really hate to install Sid on my machine and find that it crashes or has major issues. Would spoil the whole the fun in using Sid. Rather, I would like it if someone more knowledgeable than me were to install it, clean out any bugs in it, and then give me to play around with. That way I get to have the latest Sid and be sure that it won’t mess up things.

That’s what Ubuntu does. The way I see it, it gives me a chance to try a snapshot of Sid every 6 months. Ok, agreed, its not the latest and greatest, but c’mon, you can’t have everything! The developers do need some time to iron out the bugs etc in Sid, and you gotta give them that. §

In addition to letting me play with Sid, Ubuntu tries to provide a uniform OS experience. As in, pay a bit of attention to the packaging, menu layout, overall consistency of things, etc etc. That’s probably what the "human" part is all about. The goal being to make UI improvements to make the user feel at home.

Till about today morning I wasn’t really sure in what ways Ubuntu tries to improve the UI. Coz frankly, I didnt see much diff between Debian and Ubuntu — GNOME looked and behaved same — except for different themes. But today morning, after reading the article, and see the new icons and UI imiprovements etc, I realize that ya, there is work going on for making UI improvements. And that work looks nice.

Frankly speaking, Linux as such isn’t totally ready for the desktop. But yup, lots of things are happening now to make it ready. After doodling around a bit in Linux, reading reviews, installing and  trying them out etc, I feel that its only a matter of time. Maybe by this year end; or sometime early next year — Linux will start to feel as comfy as Windows. Most distros now have great package management software and control panels — a big step in itself!

Ofcourse, one thing we’ll all have to live with is the thing of downloading multimedia codecs and proprietary separately by ourselves — coz of the patent etc issues. But in that area too, I see that there are many sites which give you step by step instructions on what is to be done. You follow the steps there — a one time affair — and after that updates etc are all managed by the distro’s package management tools. So there’s no need to keep in mind that you have extra stuff installed that you gotta take care of.

Meanwhile, here’s an overview of Fedora Code 5. Notice that it too has a GUI package manager now. And that there are various UI improvements. §

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