Ubuntu 9.10 continues version 9.04’s ease of install and operation, and is jam-packed with useful, free applications. The ability to run Ubuntu within Windows is an added plus for users who may still want to “feel out” a Linux desktop OS before giving up Windows.
CRN Test Center reviewers took a look at the beta release of Ubuntu 9.10. The CD image gives three ways to run Ubuntu: live from the CD, as a demo and then a full install, and as an install within Windows.
The “install within Windows” option is made courtesy of Wubi — a Windows-based Ubuntu installer. Wubi adds an entry to the Windows boot menu that allows you to run Linux. Ubuntu is installed within a file in the Windows file system (c:ubuntudisksroot.disk) — this file is seen by Linux as a real hard disk.
Upon initializing the Wubi install option, a dialogue box warns that Ubuntu installed in this method disables Hibernation mode and slightly reduces disk performance. As a test, we tried to do an unsuccessful installation of Ubuntu 9.10 within Windows 7. However, our failure was somewhat expected as the system requirements state that Wubi is only supported on all versions of Windows 98 through Vista (with the exclusion of Windows ME). Per the wubi-installer.org Web site, more platforms will be supported, as well as Mac OSX.
We ended up running Ubuntu 9.10 live off the CD. As with the Jaunty version of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 9.10 comes loaded with valuable software and system tools. For office productivity, there’s OpenOffice.org’s Presentation, Spreadsheet and Word Processor. All of them are full-featured versions. The Evolution mail client and calendar can be used to sync up IMAP and SMTP e-mail accounts. Users can import vCards, .csv, vCalendar and other messaging file formats into Evolution.
Firefox 3.5.3 is installed by default, as are the Empathy IM client and the Transmission BitTorrent client. There also is a Terminal Server client and Remote Desktop Viewer. We used the Terminal Server Client to remotely connect to a Windows Server 2008 machine via RDP — it worked like a charm.
There also are several multimedia applications such as F-Spot Photo Manager, which is a very basic image editor. GIMP Image Editor is more feature-rich and has all the settings you could want to edit images. Sound and video applications include Brasero Disc Burner, Movie Player, Rtythmbox Music Player and Sound Recorder.
Ubuntu 9.10 has a variety of system management tools. Computer Janitor is a utility that helps you find and remove software packages that you might not need anymore and suggests configuration changes that might aid in boosting system performance. System Testing is a utility that tests several components of a system to ensure they are working properly, such as audio, fingerprint readers, peripherals and more.
Significant changes from Ubuntu 9.04 to 9.10 beta aren’t strictly cosmetic ones. Want to add software to Ubuntu 9.10? This release replaces the Add/Remove feature in the Applications menu with the more contemporary Ubuntu Software Center. Ubuntu 9.10 also replaces the Pidgin IM client with the feature-rich Empathy client. This is part of the updated GNOME 2.28 desktop environment.
Ubuntu 9.10 Beta also features the Ubuntu One file-sharing service, providing file synchronization between computers and with Ubuntu One’s network storage service.
New Intel (NSDQ:INTC) video architecture has been developed in 9.10 to address performance issues such as boot-time flickering (a notorious problem with Ubuntu) and speeding up from suspend/resume.
Detailed information on all changes can be found on Ubuntu.com.
Canonical seems to be at the forefront of demystifying Linux for the “rest of us.” Add into the mix a fleshing out of Ubuntu’s server offering and extendibility into the cloud and you have a stronger case for Linux in the corporate environment other than “It’s free.”