|Ubuntu Lucid Lynx ships with fast boots, social networking
Apr. 29, 2010
The Canonical-backed Ubuntu project today released the final Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop, Server, and Netbook Editions of its popular Linux distro. Code-named "Lucid Lynx," Ubuntu 10.04 features faster boot times, colorful new themes, GNOME 2.3, a "MeMenu" social networking interface, and an Ubuntu One music service.
Officially announced on Tuesday by London-based Canonical, but appearing for download only today, the final edition of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Long Term Support) once again nudges Linux forward as a more consumer-palatable contender to Windows on the desktop.
Meanwhile, Canonical further establishes its Moblin-imbued netbook edition, setting the bar high for Google with its upcoming Chrome OS debut. In addition , the server edition appears to have grown ever closer to matching the capabilities of established enterprise server distros from Red Hat and Novell.
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop Edition
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For now, we'll focus on the new desktop and netbook editions, which replace the earlier Ubuntu 9.10 ("Karmic Koala") released in late October.
As we mentioned in last month's DesktopLinux coverage of the initial beta release of Lucid Lynx, one of the key enhancements is boot-time. This was also cited as a key improvement in Windows 7, yet last month when ChannelWeb tested the beta version of Lucid Lynx, it recorded boot times of under 15 seconds on an Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 CPU clocked at 2.8GHz, compared to 30 seconds for Windows 7.
In our own tests today of the final desktop version of Ubuntu 10.04, a notebook computer with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T8300 CPU booted Lucid Lynx to the login prompt in 30 seconds, and to a usable desktop in 42 seconds overall. The same machine took 54 seconds to boot Windows 7 to its login prompt, and, again, required just over ten seconds more (64 seconds total) for a usable desktop.
Ubuntu Netbook Edition touted for "super-fast" SSD boot-up
Canonical makes no specific speed claims on boot-time, but notes that on the netbook edition of Ubuntu 10.04, boot-time is "super-fast on SSD-based machines such as netbooks." The Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE) is also said to offer faster suspend/resume times that are not only more convenient, but can extend battery life, says the company.
Designed for smaller netbook screens, UNE combines optimizations from the Moblin project designed for Intel Atom-based netbooks, says the Ubuntu project. In February, it was revealed that UNE 10.04 would offer a new 2D ARM interface based on Enlightenment Foundation Libraries, said to vastly improve graphics on low-cost ARM-based netbooks. In March, IBM and Canonical announced that the IBM Client for Smart Work Linux distro, based on UNE, was being marketed in Africa on a Simmtronics Simmbook netbook that costs just $190.
Ubuntu 10.04's MeMenu
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In the desktop edition, the UI has been overhauled with two new Mac OS X-like themes, as well as a new notification area, icons, and wallpaper. In addition to the new, dark-purple Ambiance theme, Luci Lynx offers a new, much lighter Radiance theme.
A distro for the new Me decade
Also new is the Gwibber-based "Me Menu" for social networking integration of Facebook, Digg, Twitter, and Identi.ca updates (see images above and below). The MeMenu is also said to support a multi-column view for monitoring multiple feeds simultaneously. In addition, the Me Menu integrates Empathy chat channels, including Google Talk, MSN, IRC, and other IM technologies.
MeMenu (left) and Empathy chat integration (right)
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As noted in our beta coverage, the Ubuntu Software Centre 2.0 appears to offer vastly improved package management (see image below, left). Thanks to a streamlined new interface, it is now easier to find new software, and track existing packages, says Canonical.
New Software Centre features are said to include filtering by vendor source. For example, users can select software solely from the Ubuntu project or from Canonical partners. They can also quickly scan software written by developers who use Canonical's Launchpad Personal Package Archive (PPA) hosting service.
New Software Centre (left) and Ubuntu One Music Store
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Ubuntu 10.04 advances to the Linux 2.6.32 kernel (specifically 2.6.32-21.32), which was released in December. Version 10.04 also supplies GCC 4.4.3, eglibc 2.11, and Python 2.6.5, says the project.
One key new enhancement is the addition of the open source Nouveau video driver as the default for nVidia graphics hardware in place of the -nv driver. Improvements in the Nouveau video driver include kernel mode setting for improved resolution detection, says Canonical. Three proprietary Nvidia drivers are also said to be available.
GNOME 2.3 spiffs up Nautilus file manager
The Ubuntu desktop has been updated with the GNOME 2.30 or KDE SC 4.4 desktop environments, as well as the lightweight alternative, XFCE 4.6.1.
The default GNOME 2.30 features an updated Nautilus file manager, which offers a new split view mode. In addition, Nautilus is now set to browser mode by default, replacing spatial mode. GNOME's Empathy IM app and Tomboy Notes synchronization app are also said to have been significantly upgraded, among other features.
Ubuntu's likewise-open package, which provides Active Directory authentication and server support for Linux, has received a major update to version 5.4 in Lucid Lynx, says the project. Application updates, meanwhile, are said to include OpenOffice.org 3.2.0 and X.Org server 1.7.5.
The Ubuntu project also did a little housekeeping, removing some components that were getting in the way. The already depreciated HAL (hardware abstraction layer) is now gone, which is said to have helped improve boot times. Among other changes, the GIMP image editor has been replaced with the simpler F-Spot app, and a PiTiVi open source video editor is also available.
Ubuntu One gets musical
Ubuntu has now been further integrated with Canonical's Ubuntu One online "cloud" service, enabling files and folders to be shared and saved on the cloud more easily, says Canonical. The new version also adds bookmark and contacts sharing with Ubuntu One, which is available free to Ubuntu users with 2GB of storage.
A new Ubuntu One Music Store, meanwhile, offers music from "the world's largest labels and greatest bands," available via the default music player, says Canonical (see image farther above). Music can be stored on Ubuntu One, or shared among Ubuntu-ready devices, says the company.
For more ambitious cloud activities, the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) installer has been "vastly improved," says Canonical. UEC components are now automatically discovered and registered, including those supporting complex, alternative topologies. In addition, UEC is based on an upgraded Eucalyptus 1.6.2 codebase, says the company.
Stated Jane Silber, who recently took over Canonical's CEO duties from founder Mark Shuttleworth, "Changes like the new look and feel and the addition of a music store, layered on top of our relentless focus on delivering an intuitive and attractive user experience for new and existing Ubuntu users -- these are the bridging elements to the mainstream market that our community, our partners and our users really want."
The Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop Edition and Ubuntu 10.04 Netbook Edition are available for free download, with three years of support through free security and maintenance updates. The distros will be "pre-installed on a range of machines from a number of manufacturers in Summer 2010," says Canonical.
Downloads and additional information are available from Ubuntu's home-page, here.
-- Eric Brown
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