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Ubuntu 10.10 beta review

by Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

Judged on its own merits, the Ubuntu 10.10 beta is a solid and consumer-friendly release. Looking at it in the light of the 10.04 Long Term Service (LTS) release from the Spring, it seems a very modest update…

This article originally appeared in issue 92 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Ubuntu 10.10 beta review Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

Ubuntu 10.04 is a hard release to beat, though Maverick does improve upon the release. The Ubuntu Project and company behind it, Canonical, have put in a lot of hard work to offer up a Linux distro that could compete with Mac OS X. It’s not quite there yet for a few reasons, but it’s getting inexorably closer — with the largest gap being applications.

When the Ubuntu 10.10 beta was released on September 2nd, I decided to take a look at it and (briefly) the Kubuntu 10.10 beta as well. To put it through its paces I installed it on an Intel Core Duo machine with 2GB of RAM, a Dell Studio laptop with a Core i7 and 8GB of RAM, and also within VMware Workstation 7.1 for Linux.

The installer has, once again, been revamped and improved. The first screen is a sort of readiness check that informs the user what’s going to happen, suggests that a network connection is a good thing to have, and allows the user to install updates and non-free software at the same time as the install. This is a really nice improvement, though it’s unlikely to impress those who frown on non-free software. The “install updates” feature, though, is very nice.

Ubuntu 10.10 beta review

A couple of minor quibbles with the choices made by the installer, however. Specifically, the partitioning and user information. By default, Ubuntu wants to provide just one massive root (/) partition without separate home partitions. This is a mistake, as anyone who’s updated or recovered a Linux system should know. And the default for the user is to log in automatically — probably more familiar for former Windows and Mac OS X users, but hardly recommended. These can be changed by experienced users, but it’s not setting good habits for those who do not know better.

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    • Earl

      I moved to 10.10 Beta using the upgrade from 10.04 and it went smoothly (IBM/Lenovo T60). Ubuntu is the distribution interesting people in Linux. Right or wrong, they improved usability and look of all Linux distributions by their example. Although often accused of not contributing to Linux, they seem to contribute much PR which helps Linux in general. Through their efforts Dell has moved Linux closer to the main stream.


    • eldritch

      Please. Opening pages two and three in new windows is super-irritating. Don’t do it. It seems like the older the Web gets, the more irritating and reader-hostile it becomes.

    • Nice review.
      Some remarks on proprietary software.
      It´s a good thing Ubuntu gives the option to install proprietary software on installation AND that non-free software in available through the software center.
      People who `frown on non-free software´ should really shut up.
      There is nothing wrong with commercial software. And whether money is made through support (Canonical) or license for software, it is essential that company´s can make money through ubuntu some way for it to rise to new hights.
      I seriously hope more cash wil start flowing for applications in the software center. It wil lure larger software developers to this place when there are some real numbers through software licenses being sold. Hell, maybe even names like Adobe will be interested (as Apple´s arrogance drives them away from them)

      “Ubuntu wants to provide just one massive root (/) partition without separate home partitions.”…”it’s not setting good habits for those who do not know better.”

      I think that Ubuntu one will be the substitute for that.
      It´s way more flexible then a partition for user files and more easy to regain access, you simply install a system (not nessesarily the old one) and access your files again.
      So i actually agree on one massive root for end user systems, keep it sweet and simple. (server system is complete differend story)

    • John Biles

      Ubuntu puts the time and money in to creating Apps like the software installer etc and doesn’t want to share them. I say fair enough, Ubuntu is competing again other Distro’s for market share. Yes it free software mostly but it is the drive to be number one in Linux that gives users a better Operating System. Mint has created apps to improve user experience as well. What these Distro’s want to share is up to them, they took the time to create these apps in the first place.

      At the end of it all Ubuntu needs to make money out of Open Source they need to eat to.

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    • vect

      Nice review. I am, however, compelled to disagree with you about Ubuntu’s lack of contribution to open source. By being a great distribution and employing talented developers Ubuntu raises mind-share and prestige for Linux and all software that is associated with it.

      Redhat and Novell were never as focused as Ubuntu is on home users. Redhat and Novell never tried to make linux hip, and Ubuntu is pulling it off.

      The Ubuntu store is a similar contribution. Successful branding and buzz around a Linux entity will bring attention to Linux that benefits us all.

    • “Ubuntu wants to provide just one massive root (/) partition without separate home partitions.”…”it’s not setting good habits for those who do not know better.”

      I agree with you, but somehow I feel it is good for a starter. Unless we can provide a better way to educate a completely new user how to partitions separately, as it can get extremely confusing for a new user. Until that is done, I will praise Ubuntu for doing that as it makes life a lot easier for new user (just ask a new guy to install debian and ask if Linux is user friendly?) :)

      great post though…

    • Dave

      I agree, lack of applications keeps linux desktop in shadows. Maybe possibility to buy easily from software center helps and lures developers.

      But still, there is a lot to do with the desktop environments also. Gnome desktop reminds about 90’s.

    • Gary

      experienced users would probably like one massive root / partition –KISS
      Having the option of a choice would be nice.
      LVM is annoying.

    • Russell Barnes

      @eldritch – fixed. My mistake!

    • markit

      What is the overall meaning of wanting to be Free as in Freedom, build a GNU/Linux os, have Free programs, and then say that proprietary software is good?
      I want to eat good food, we work hard for a farm where only good food is grow up, and “pure food” is cooked, and then you come and say “oh, is so nice have OGM food, and McDonald’s one, go away all those ‘genuine food’ people”.
      Sounds really crazy to my ears.
      If you want to be a slave, be controlled, be subjugated by the programmers you have M$ and Apple world that will welcome you with their golden chains.
      Let’s put that you are right, and that the goal of be free is regressing and become less and less important, until 90% of your beloved Ubuntu will be based upon proprietary software… will it be good? 80%? 40%? and essential 10%? (maybe all the drivers and the fundamental programs you use).
      Will you be happy then?
      What is good in not being Free? Do you really like the red pillow? You are free to go that road, but on the M$ and Apple track, not on the Free Software one.

    • Al.

      1.) with “Mail” I assume you mean e-mail. If not , e mail me instructions on how to submit a comment. 2.) Background: I have a 27 year love-hate relationship with computers (mostly IBM PC’S, but several others too). Need the darn things for work: Autocad, CNC, Writing reports, notes, and messages. I have tried to get into Linux for years, unsuccessfully. I speak English German, some Hebrew and several European once to get coffee, wine, and a room; Linux seems out of reach.
      3.) I read up on versions recently and decided to download Ubuntu: 6 hrs worth of messing around, my dual core vista studded computer crashed 3 times. I am wishing to get away from Microsoft, The Bricscad gives me some hope, maybe some day ….Al.

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    • davemc

      “markit said:

      What is the overall meaning of wanting to be Free as in Freedom, build a GNU/Linux os, have Free programs, and then say that proprietary software is good?”

      You miss the point of FOSS entirely. By your definition you would enslave us all to your view that everyone must use only free software. That’s not choice, that’s fascism! Do what I say or else!!

      The whole point behind FOSS is that we have the freedom to choose what software we want to use – Open Source or completely locked down proprietary source – either way, its our choice! THAT, and only that, is true freedom. You cross the line when you imply that users can ONLY use Open Source and never anything else. That is what Apple and Microsoft have been trying to do for years on the proprietary front. IMO, the real slave are those who live in ignorance.

      Ubuntu/Canonical has never ever said that they are a fully free and open Distro. They very strongly encourage FOSS use, and that is enough by most peoples standards. There ARE full on free Distro’s out there and they do go to tremendous lengths to remove anything even remotely non-free. I think their user base can be counted on one hand..

    • Andre Raymond

      First Good Review, second I agree with you, / root less system is a step backwards, if we want more people to use Linux & Ubuntu, we need manufacturers to install OEM the system.

      Of course I convert people to Linux by installing it correctly for them, and one by one I have gained converts. And if the system was root less it would make zero difference to their user experience. Leave things the way they are used by 99.99999% of Linux Distributions, people have to learn, if they don’t I am sorry for them.

      For my needs and 90% of all users, the Software available meets or exceeds their requirements. The 10% who insist on using Photoshop or other proprietary software, have to migrate to new software, that simple. In time, Linux users will grow, and accordingly proprietary software will make itself available for Linux.

      The thing one should realize is 95% of the people out there using a computer cannot install Windows properly, let alone Linux. These people need an OS pre-installed or a friend or relative that is a technical resource.

      Now I must write on Ubuntu forum and state my case against root less file system, it’s ridiculous.


    • rofel

      Bonsoir;j’ai consulté ce site pour savoir si on peut utiliser les systemes LINUX quand on a apris l’ANGLAIS avec une vache espagnole qui ne parlait que le chinois ;en ce moment je suis equipé en windows7 et j’ai windows live messenger qui est parti et je n’arrive pas a le telecharger a nouveau ;microsoft donne des solutions impossibles a faire ce qui veut dire qu’ils sont PAUMES et se foutent pas mal du client .
      Je voudrais aussi savoir si votre systeme permet de communiquer comme msn avec des gens qui ont autre chose que msn .
      Merci de m’avoir lu et si ça ne serait pas trop vous demander ,je pense que vous seriez plus nombreux a l’utiliser si vous decriviez comment ça fonctionne et si c’est facile pour le profane de l’utiliser.

    • Christopher Cox

      @Lennart: I completely agree. I can’t stand Linux distributions in this present day that keep solely to free licensing. They are trying to gain wide spread acceptance, yet keep out some of the amazing software available just because their license disagrees with the “free” license philosophies? How are you going to explain to the average Joe that is interested in getting into Linux that … “Oh they don’t make that software easily available to you because they use a license that does not agree with their philosophy”? That is a load of crap. If a user new into Linux wants to install Opera, which uses their own proprietary license, it should be made available without having to jump through hoops.

      Ubuntu is the distribution people like because it just works. They can find the software they need, and if they want to play their multimedia, makes downloading the packages necessary to play them easily available. I don’t have to explain … “Oh you can’t play that file because that distribution doesn’t agree with the license.” Bunch of crap I hope all distros follow suite.

    • I think, to understand Ubuntu, you have to understand Mark Shuttleworth. This man, who made his first US$ 580,000,000 by the time he was 24, is an entrepreneur. His idea for Ubuntu is to help create a product which, eventually, will have a good chance to compete, head to head, with Windo0ws (he seems almost there with Apple).

      Then there are Linux users and where they come from. Most Linux users of many of the distros want to preserve Linux and I fear, would not like to see it enter the main stream. However, I would guess, many Ubuntu users, like myself, would love to see the operating system a major force in the market place.

      Whilst I don’t therefore agree with all your criticisms, you have made some very good points.

      When he resigned as CEO of Canonical to work again with Ubuntu, I have an idea he has a two year plan and what is changing is the code behind the scenes. I think you will find, if you examine the source code that there will have been big changes in 10.10 because he (Mark) doesn’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet. And the reasoning for the three buttons moved to the left? I am not sure what, but I have a suspicion that he has other plans for the vacant area on the right. Quite frankly, I prefer the buttons to be nearer the position my cursor is usually at. So, roll on 12.04!

    • imnotrich

      Isn’t it a little early to be releasing 10.10, when 10.4 won’t install on 90% of PC’s (those with Intel, ATI or Nvidia video cards)?

      Sadly, 10.04.1 didn’t fix this incompatibility.

      Shuttleworth may be uber-smart and uber-rich but if he wants his distro to improve Linux market share rather than an adverse impact on the public’s perception of Linux he needs to invest in a little bit of pre-release testing.

      Don’t most computers have video cards?

    • Christopher Cox

      @Imnotrich: I don’t know what you are talking about. My laptop has an i810 from Intel, which worked flawlessly on first install. My Desktop has a Radeon and you know what? It installed perfectly. My experience with it has been positive, and I have seen it support the video on lots of installs I have done more times than not. Just because you have had issues doesn’t mean the rest of the world does.

    • nron

      @Imnotrich: As Christopher Cox said: just what are you talking about? I have installed Ubuntu on lots of different hardware, with all sorts of video cards, and never had a problem. OK, getting the proprietary ATI FireGL drivers working on my ThinkPad T60P was a pain, but that pain was my own choice, and back then, I really didn’t know what I was doing.

    • JimmyMcjazz

      Hi all,

      Canon scanners……whats the go with Cannon? Why would a company of this size not want Linux users to use their scanners?
      People having to replace existing hardware when changing to Ubuntu is not great and i think this issue should be given as much “publicity” as necessary to get the manufacturers attention.

    • Sri

      Nice mini-review. I agree on the applications bit. Being a scientist, I would like to use Ubuntu or linux alone and not even look at windows, but for some critical applications for which I am forced to use windows on my personal computer. An example is a bibliography manager – similar to Endnote. I have tried all the bibliography managers for linux and none of them even come anywhere closer to Endnote X4. It is a pity that when Openoffice is evolving, the whole Linux community is unable to come up with something similar to Endnote. Apps is the next important thing the Linux developers need to think about for any further success of Linux.

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    • goomer

      Nothing really new. Open Source fans will claim to like it, the vast majority of computer users will ignore it completely.

    • steph70

      I bought a HP laptop dv9x three years ago and windows 7 is not supported.
      I bought a Cannon scanner many years ago and Cannon does not provide drivers for win vista and latter.

      Now I use ubuntu linux and my scanner works fine.

      Windows made some changes that required some modification in the scanner drivers. I don’t know for sure, but there are chances these were not major changes, but hardware manufacturer had no incentive to spend money so people don’t have to buy a new scanner. And because it is closed source nobody could take over.

    • Richard

      hey is it better to upgrade to ubuntu 10.10 then to stay whit 10.4?

    • Artemis3

      Shotwell is blazingly fast, for starters, it doesn’t need mono. I wish Ubuntu would just get rid of tomboy and replace it with gnote which does the same; that way they could get rid of mono and its useless space and resource wasting.

      Purchasing licenses to use codecs is required only in very few countries. Most people are better NOT ticking the install proprietary thing and just install ubuntu-restricted-extras afterwards. This confusion arises: Does the proprietary thing also includes/excludes proprietary drivers? Hopefully not… I would not want fluendo codecs as they for sure won’t include encoding (a much higher price).

      Separating /home has a tremendous disadvantage. How much you leave for / means how much are you leaving to install applications, and how much you leave for home means how much other personal data they can store. If you ARE an advanced user, you can just manually define your partitions right there in the install. I’d rather have / in an SSD and swap, /home /tmp and /var in a mechanical drive…

    • Natty

      surely you should use latex for your references?
      Kile is wonderful for this.

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    • Man

      @Sri, what is the price of Endnote? I checked one site and it says € 270.40!!! For that price I rather use kbibtex, free as in beer and can be integrated in kile. I guess Endnote must have something special for that price could you tell me what it is?

    • Man

      kbibtex is free as in beer but also as in freedom of course. It is for KDE but works fine (enough) in Gnome.

    • Toms

      I heard that on 10.10 it will be much easier to install Win and Mac software, like, STEAM for example.

      I tried it on 10.04 LTS [ got the CD ]
      but failed.
      when i tried to launch one of games it crahed and did everything but not worked.

      i launched it with WineHQ.

      i heard that you need GeForce card to launch games properly, but i have ATI Radeon HD 2400 PRO

    • Daniel Renar

      hello, i use both ub and ms on several compts. and both have their faults and good points, as far as ub goes i would like to se where i can add more whatevers without having a college degree to do so so the end result is that windows is more friendly but ubuntu is at times much faster so it is less irratating to me because i dont have my hole life to wait for a compt’ to decide to do something. the whole point is about service and who can get the job done. thanks for letting me voice this and i hope all can be improved even more. daniel //

    • webbertiger

      I upgraded Ubuntu from 10.04 to 10.10 yesterday on my Acer Aspire 7740 notebook and hope the new version can give me better hardware support.

      On 10.04, one of the features I really need is to adjust the backlight brightness by clicking Fn+Left or Fn+Right, but acpi intercepts IRQ and does not work correctly to change brightness. The workaround I found was to set acpi=ht at the boot option. In this way, I can still get multi-threading support, and the default BIOS can handle the brightness adjustment. I’ve been living with it.

      On 10.10, the new kernel does not have acpi=ht option any more. I tried to use acpi_backlight=vendor, acpi=noirq, or any other options I know, but none of them can support multi-threading and also let me adjust brightness. I have to roll back to 10.04.

    • Sri-

      Two suggestions for bibliography managers for you.

      1. JabRef – a simple reference manager that uses the BibTeX format and hence works well with LaTeX

      2. Zotero – a reference manager that works as a Firefox plugin, so works directly in your browser with seamless integration. Does what Endnote does (to such an extent that Endnote tried to sue them!) and works well with Word and OpenOffice.

      Hope that helps.