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16 October 2006

Experiment: Ubuntu Linux 6.10 Beta

Ubuntu Linux 6.10 is about to be released, and I've tried it.

I use linux for some years now and I've tried all the well known distributions: RedHat (6, 7), Debian (2.0, 2.2), Slackware (8), Mandrake (7), Gentoo (1.4+), Fedora (4, 5), CentOS (4.4)... and another set of Live CDs. I like to try out new distributions to see what's new and how are things going with Linux on the desktop.

The latest Ubuntu Linux project is currently in beta but the state of things is near-finish, if not because of the version: 6.10 -> 2006.October.
The Ubuntu guys make a very clear (and logic) warning about the distribution being beta and having the potential to break stuff, eventually causing data loss... But, the workstation where I run ubuntu is used as an internet terminal, game station, etc, so it hasn't got any important data.

So what's changed since the solid 6.06 release?
Lots of stuff! Lots of new, cool, eye-candy and friendly stuff!
For instance, there's Mozilla Firefox 2.0 RC2 and Gaim 2.0.0 beta3. Both recent, near finished, major releases of very widely used applications. The recent Gnome 2.16 desktop environment along with OpenOffice 2.0.4 RC are also some big and heavy software packages that make the change worthwhile.
Under the bonnet, I could find a new init.d system, a 2.6.17 kernel, Xorg 7.1 (with r300 dri driver and AIGLX support enabled, which I don't know how to take advantage of yet).

... but there is a lot more new stuff! See for yourself:

What upgrade?
I have to mention that there is a distribution upgrade procedure available for the 6.06 users, which worked well. The developers must have put a great effort into the upgrade system, and my experience was very positive. It worked well the first time I tried.
It pulled about 1GB of packages from the internet, installed everything in one go and rebooted. Done. Excelent!

Is it better?
Much better! The system works very well, detected all my hardware (like the 6.06, but I have no exotic stuff, so that wasn't really a big achievement), the desktop feels very well integrated and looks stunning - anti-aliased and sub pixel hinted fonts everywhere, applications load quickly (or so it seemed). This version kept the stuff that worked well and improved what could be improved. Newer versions of software and big UI improvements.

General idea
In my opinion, Ubuntu Linux *is* and deserves to be the best desktop distribution at the moment for 95% of the Linux user base.
I use it exclusively on my workstation at home for some time now, but my laptop, for my everyday work and fun, still runs Gentoo Linux and I don't intend to change it yet.

Use Linux, Have fun!

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