Friday, April 30, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx: Final Review

Ubuntu 10.04 was officially released yesterday, April 29th 2010. I was curious to see if my initial impressions when reviewing the Beta were accurate, so I went ahead and tested it. On top of that, I wanted to find out how much improvement actually took place on this final version. Therefore, I want to use this article as an update to my initial REVIEW, as well as to capture my final thoughts on Ubuntu 10.04.

Note that I will not go over concepts that were already covered in that initial review.

INSTALLATION

Except for some translations that were not finished when the Beta was released and are obviously now, I have not noticed any difference in the installation process. As I said in my initial review, I like that the old text menus have been substituted by a good looking graphical and friendly interface.

Ubuntu allows the end user to start the installation before they actually try the product by booting from the LiveCD. While that is certainly convenient, I personally would like to see more information about the risks of not trying to boot from the LiveCD first, or perhaps simply a recommendation to do so. I believe that such approach would save lots of frustration in the long run.

BOOT PROCESS

Here's where the weird stuff started. As I completed the installation and was asked to remove the LiveCD, I received an error message. I thought the installation was over, so it probably meant nothing. I forced the computer to shut down and booted again, this time from my brand new 10.04 installation. I was curious to see how the splash screen looked now that it was supposed to be done. Instead, all I got was some command line interface boot, no splash screen to be found. Since I installed Ubuntu 10.04, I have booted about 10 times, and the splash screen has never showed up. I find that puzzling because it does show up when I shut down the computer... Oh, well.

Once the boot process was over, I finally got the GUI, in the form of the login screen. Let me stop right here to make a comment about the Wallpapers and backgrounds provided by Canonical.

I love having an OS that is responsive and I am never in favor of adding excessive animations or eyecandy that may get in the way of optimum performance, but there has to be a bit of balance. The default wallpaper included with Lucid is terrible in quality, badly compressed. The Karmic splash screen was criticized for the same reason, but at least it looked decent under 1280x800 (It did look bad on higher resolutions). I honestly thought the wallpaper included in Ubuntu 10.04 Beta was unfinished and imagined a higher quality version would be included as the final release went live. Wrong.

Personally, I believe this is an area Canonical should have put more effort on. A high quality wallpaper makes a tremendous contribution towards a great looking desktop, which is the first impression a new user will get. That first impression is VERY important, which is something Apple and Microsoft understood completely. As a result, Mac OS and Windows 7 have nailed down this piece perfectly, with very impressive and professional wallpaper sets. To make matters worse, the announcement of a fully revamped branding naturally raises the expectation for higher quality and more professional looks, which result in disappointment when that is not the case. On a different note, I find it a bit dull that almost half of the preinstalled wallpapers are flower pictures.


Lucid wallpapers lack the quality to be expected in Ubuntu.

After logging in for the first time, the desktop would not load. All I had was the wallpaper for around a minute, and then the usual upper and lower panels appeared, but showing the "Raleigh" window and control themes, instead of the Ubuntu 10.04 default. After a reboot, the desktop finally loaded normally, allowing me to continue my review.


Ubuntu 10.04 desktop with one of the default wallpapers, Cairo Dock & FFW icon theme.

SOME INTERESTING NEW FEATURES

As could be expected, Ubuntu 10.04 incorporates some new features, applications and branding. I already described some of those features in that first review, but here are some others I found this time around:

Branding

Aside from the new set of wallpapers, GNOME terminal gets a new profile, sporting the new branding colors.


The new profile color set in GNOME terminal.

The Software center branding looks a bit more refined, and it definitely improves when installing a different icon set.


The Ubuntu 10.04 Software Center.

Despite Canonical's intentions to make the Software Center the one stop for all things software, Synaptic Package Manager and the Update Manager still made it to the Administration menu. In my opinion, the Software Center is still far from being in a position to take over such responsibilities. The concept is good, and it is extremely user friendly for the packages it finds, but I feel it is still not mature enough. As an example, trying to find the Android fonts proved so difficult that I ended up using the terminal.

Starting Firefox takes us to the default search engine, which is back to Google after a brief switch to Yahoo!. This default search page looks much better than any previous one, clean and stylish.


Firefox 3.6.3 showing the default Google search page.

Rhythmbox

The default Ubuntu audio player also gets some enhancements. I found particularly interesting that it detected the lack of an MP3 decoder and offered a very straightforward way of downloading it automatically.


RhythmBox nice MP3 download feature.

Simply clicking in the designated button started the installation of the MP3 decoder, as shown below.


The MP3 decoder download process was easy and quick.

Once ready, I was pleasantly surprised to see Rhythmbox so tightly integrated with the UbuntuOne music store. There has been some controversy about including something so business oriented inside an open source OS, but I personally think it is OK. If you are not interested, simply pass on it, there is no obligation, but those who use it will surely help in providing Canonical the financial support the company needs. In my opinion, this is as good a way as any to add one's two cents so that Ubuntu's future is safe.


Rhythmbox and the UbuntuOne Music store.

Games

They say less is more, and I think that holds true when it comes to games included in Linux distros. I have always thought too many games are included, most of them lacking the quality to make it to a serious desktop OS. The Ubuntu developers seem to have thought alike, and I was pleasantly surprised to see only 6 games available this time, most of which are among my favorites.


A smaller but better game selection made it into Ubuntu 10.04.

About and documentation

Looking into the "About Ubuntu" section was interesting, as it also incorporates the new branding, proving a good piece of documentation to get any new user started on basic Ubuntu and Linux concepts


The About Ubuntu section looks cleaner and more professional than ever.

ROCK SOLID?

As I mentioned already, and differently to what I found when testing Beta and RC releases, this final release of Ubuntu was not exactly rock solid nor working flawlessly. I have tested several different Ubuntu releases in the past and since Ubuntu 8.10, I have always installed new releases on the same couple of laptops right after release date. I am fully aware of the risks implied, even willing to accept some sloppiness, but I have to say I felt disappointed after testing this final release of Ubuntu 10.04.

On the one hand, I find it difficult to explain that the exact same pieces of hardware (HP Compaq NX7400 and HP Compaq 6910p) that worked flawlessly with the Beta and Release candidate now seem to have problems on something as basic as the boot process. On the other hand, this is a Long Term Release, which is supposed to be more solid, more backward compatible and more mature and polished, which is simply not the case.

Back when Karmic was released, I couldn't relate to those who reported issues. It worked smoothly for me, but I could understand that the effort Canonical had put in place to incorporate so many new features would involve risks. In fact, many of us in the community thought all of those seemingly unfinished new elements would settle down and mature in time for Lucid. Sadly, I can't help but feel the opposite.

SUMMING ALL UP

My overall feel is that this release was somewhat disappointing. Here's a summary or reasons why:

- Some basic functionality that was working just days ago on the Release Candidate does not today on the same hardware.

- There is a bit of an overall "sloppiness" feel to Ubuntu 10.04 so far, which is specially significant given its LTS quality.

- The new branding is far from complete with wallpapers, icons and window themes having an "in the works" feel to them.

- Some new features, such as the infamous window minimize, maximize and close buttons shift to the left are difficult to explain. I know they can easily be moved back to the right, but what value adds a modification like this one if a vast majority of users will override it?

- I can't really understand the addition of PiTiVi, when GIMP was an application with a much wider user base. The argument Canonical used was that GIMP took too much space from the Live CD and was an application for professional use, but so is PiTiVi.

Don't get me wrong, there are many good things about Ubuntu 10.04, some of which I have discussed in my two reviews, but I guess the expectation was sky high and the delivery is not that big a step forward. I very much appreciate the efforts Canonical and its developers have put in place when creating this last release of Ubuntu, but more than ever before Ubuntu 10.04 feels like a middle step towards the more significant improvement we all want to see in Ubuntu.

As far as I am concerned, Ubuntu 10.04 is not a release I plan to use. I am very comfortable with my current Jaunty and Karmic installations and don't feel the Lucid Lynx has anything to offer that would justify upgrading. That's solely the result of my personal setup, needs and taste, so please do test and use Ubuntu 10.04 if you like it. For those interested in installing it, though, my advice would be to allow some weeks, perhaps a month or two, so the initial bugs can be fully fixed by the developers.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: Here's a very interesting ARTICLE covering some Ubuntu 10.04 bugs.

Thanks, William!

33 comments:

  1. Hi Chema,

    I share your concerns:
    http://lcorg.blogspot.com/2010/04/bugs-in-ubuntu-1004.html

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  2. Hi, William,

    Thanks a lot for your comments and for mentioning my article in your blog!

    Let's see what the developers can do, but I don't think Ubuntu 10.04 will be fully stable until a couple months have passed.

    Take care

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  3. "Lucid wallpapers lack the quality to be expected in Ubuntu."

    Sorry but anyone that expects quality wallpapers in Ubuntu, has obviously NEVER in their lives used Ubuntu. Since Ubuntu has never once had a decent wallpaper.

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  4. I have tried Ubuntu Lucid and Debian Squeeze (it's still in testing). Found Squeeze way more polished than this much hyped Ubuntu LTS. I think users should use it after 1 or 2 of its point releases.

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  5. thank God i move to pclinuxOS 2010 it is fantastic!!!

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  6. Thanks all for posting!

    @colby: I say so not because Ubuntu has a history of great wallpapers, but because it is among Canonical's objectives to make Ubuntu a widely accepted standard among desktop operating systems, so among many other elements, its wallpapers should be up to the task. It's just that shipping a good set of wallpapers is easy and cheap compared to other things.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Interesting to see that you made about the same experience with Lucid than I had when testing it (on either my laptop and my netbook). Moreover there are a few additional disappointments in Lucid that I noticed:

    – It is only possible to select the language with the new welcome window after starting the Live CD. There is no possibility to change the keyboard layout at this point. So if I select the French language, I get the French (France) layout. There is no option to switch to the French (Switzerland) layout that I use.

    – The “detect keyboard layout” option during installation (ubiquity) does not not work as it should. (I reported this bug about a month ago when I tested beta but there was no reaction.)

    – There is only one workspace when not using Compiz (e.g. if your driver does not support compositing). (I filled a bug report too but there was no reaction too.)

    – Lucid is very very slow on my netbook! I had no similar problems with Karmic.

    – Lucid seems to focus more on internet and social desktop usability (Gwibber etc.), games etc. than on productivity. There are more or less critical bugs in Open Office, Texlive, Inkscape and Audacity.

    In the past I really appreciated the stability reliability of Ubuntu and this was the reason why I used it. Now it seems that the developers do first of all care about subtleties (design, buttons, logo etc.) and are wasting their time doing this. If Ubuntu still wants to be easy to use and address newbies then Ubuntu should concentrate more on stability (like in past versions before and including Hardy), particularly in LTS versions! Because stability is also factor of ease of use. In the past I used Ubuntu because it was very stable and up to date. Now there is no difference regarding stability between Ubuntu and Fedora anymore. (In past I found Fedora to be a much more cutting edge distro than Ubuntu was.)

    @colby: I personally find that the quality of the wallpapers included in Karmic were by far better that the background images in Lucid.

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  9. There's note on the installer crashing if run directly instead of from within the live-cd's desktop (see 'Desktop installer sometimes crashes on startup' at http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/releasenotes/1004 ).
    For you it didn't crash but may have malfunctioned.

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  10. the reason the window controls are on the left is to make room for new innovation on the right

    from Mark Shuttleworth
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/light-themes/+bug/532633/comments/564

    ive already seen some cool new mockups.. i'm looking forward to it

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  11. Very nice article.
    Plus I was disappointed in the fact that despite the developers' focus on prettiness, the login screen is ten times uglier than Koala's.

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  12. Thanks for the review, I tend to prefer other distros but the music store is compelling. Amazon has worked well enough for me up until now but having my music available anywhere via UbnutuOne would be fantastic. Still, I may just wait until a similar service is available to Fedora or Opensuse.

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  13. I used the alphas, the betas and the final release as my primary system.

    I had no problems at all, apart from some sound config issues.

    I did a clean install of the final release yesterday.

    It's superb!

    Everything just works...It's rock solid.

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  14. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    I am sure Lucid will get some intense bug fixing in the following weeks and, just like it happened to Karmic, will become stable after a while.

    My main issue is that Ubuntu 10.04 had some bold intentions, wanted to play in the major leagues, and I feel it has failed terribly. I guess the foundation and the theory behind Lucid were right, the implementation of those ideas fell short and is ultimately incomplete. For example, I wouldn't have committed to a major branding switch unless I was 100% sure I could complete it. Releasing a new installation wizard acknowledging it has errors? What is this, Microsoft?

    I think Canonical needs to get their priorities straight and do so quickly. There is no way a Linux distro can fight the desktop arena unless reliability and performance are top notch, because those are the only areas we beat them on. No MS user will ever think of switching to Ubuntu because of the "social desktop".

    I will probably wait until 10.10 is out, but if they continue to focus on new functionality instead of fixing open bugs, they may very well end up losing the community support they have.

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  15. Installed inside Windows xp working perfectly no issues what so ever Add remove software Application has it all, install what you want..love the distro.

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  16. miles said....I find 23 hours upgrade on a netbook much too long for 10.4 on a DSL700 line...and I see that Canonical has dropped a lot (a lot) of support for various programs and I wonder if the old unsupported is going to be have to be manually removed and how that is going to affect the rest of how 10.4 runs.

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  17. What are your thoughts on how it compares to Windows 7 now that 10.04 has been released?

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  18. @fewt: Well, when I tested the beta and the RC I was having a positive feeling. Lucid wasn't up to the expections, it wasn't the big step forward I was hoping to see, but was a nice step forward from the good foundation from previous releases. However, I thought there would be further enhancements before the live version, which has not been the case.

    My opinion now? I have stated it already, but here it goes: I feel Ubuntu 10.04 is incomplete and has too many inconsistencies for an LTS release. I consider those inconsistencies important, but I know they will be fixed soon, and there doesn't seem to be anything as critical as some of the early Windows 7 bugs.

    All in all, I am disappointed that it didn't live up to expectations, but Ubuntu 10.04 still covers my needs better than Windows 7. Having said so, I have to say Windows 7 is more mature and better suited for mass use at this stage.

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  19. Cool. Good review. I completely agree with your comment. Sounds like you are paralleling my experience with the last few Ubuntu releases, but at a somewhat higher level too. Ubuntu has lots of potential, but it just isn't delivering.

    I'm pretty sure it's related to the management of the project. The product would be best served with different leadership and a renewed focus on quality over new features. /opinion

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  20. "Since I installed Ubuntu 10.04, I have booted about 10 times, and the splash screen has never showed up."

    Yeah I was puzzled myself considering it worked on earlier versions. It turns out you need to install the plymouth-theme-ubuntu-logo package to get it working correctly again. It seems like a major oversight but other than that my 10.04 experience has been pleasant enough to cause me to start using Ubuntu full time. (over other distributions that I also like)

    The effort they are putting into these releases is showing imo. It feels like Ubuntu is finally starting to stand out with the changes they are making to things like the notification area and theme, and all the small touches around the rest of the OS.

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  21. It's disappointing to hear such bad things about Ubuntu. I think I will stick to my Karmic until I hear that the bugs have been corrected. Also, these Phoronix articles aren't surely encouraging: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=linux_windows_part1&num=1 & http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=linux_windows_part2&num=1 . I love Ubuntu and I will surely not give up on it, but I will maybe try something else in the meanwhile. I was always pleased with Linux Mint, but it being based on Ubuntu makes me wonder if they can do much about it. Finally, a question for you: what do you think is the best Linux distribution at the moment?

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  22. @robert: Thanks for your comments and that tip on the splash screen. I think I will just give Lucid a couple months before I try it again. I am sure that will be among the issues they fix.

    @lupi: As you might have read from my recent reviews, PCLinuxOS 2010 is my favorite at this moment. They just released 2010.1 KDE yesterday, already including KDE 4.4.3, which is very neat. I very much encourage you to give it a try, it is well worth it.

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  23. I think Ubuntu is great and I figured upgrading from 9.10 to 10.04 would be worth it. So I backed up my files and hit the upgrade button. Well things went wrong, lots of error codes and the installation said it was stopping but it kept going. When it was all over I have a computer that boots and then halts. I am able to get to the command line so I might be able to fix things. Or I might just install from the CD. The real bummer is all the reconfig I will have to do with a scratch install, setting up the wireless (painful). Other stuff like Apache, Kompozer and whatever other programs that require some tuning. In hindsight I probably would not have upgraded, right now at least.

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  24. I will definitely give PCLinuxOS a try, but I was looking for something in the 64 bit range and possibly with Gnome.

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  25. My experience with Ubuntu 10.04 has been exceedingly positive. I did a fresh install from CD to my Intel Atom desktop system. I am very impressed with the quickness with which the system boots.

    I had been running Linux Mint on this system for several months. I wanted a fresh install and, happily, I came across your web site. Having read the favorable review I did a fresh install of PCLinuxOS. It *is* very impressive, but alas, I was unable to install a package I wanted – Squeezebox Server version 7.6 – from outside their repo (had outdated version of SBS). I also tried PCLinuxOS Gnome.

    Had I more knowledge, I might have been able to install the software. It didn't seem worth the effort, and besides, I wanted to try the new Ubuntu anyway. Expecting to be disappointed, I was pleasantly surprised instead.

    Thanks for your wonderful high-quality site. I'll be spending much time lurking here. Best regards.

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  26. I should add that I don't see a splash screen either. There may be other issues I haven't detected.

    I agree with most of your critical comments on artwork and branding. I understand the reasons for branding but I don't like most of it – particularly Linux Mint, which I enjoy otherwise.

    The Linux experience has been so rough for so long that it's hard to know when a specific annoyance is "generic" or the fault of a particular distro.

    It feels like the latest releases are getting there. Without trying to be flip about it, I'd say the GUI is reaching a level about equal to Windows 98.

    A lot of my positive buzz about Linux these days results from using Google Chrome instead of Firefox. I haven't started Firefox *once* since installing Ubuntu 10.04. (I had downloaded the Chrome .deb package previously.)

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  27. An update on what I did when the upgrade from 9.10 to 10.04 failed. Like I said in the previous post I had all of the stuff in the visible folders in my home/username directory saved to another machine.
    I was able to still boot and use the command line. I chmodded to 755 ( so I can read the files when I boot with the 10.04 CD) everything I wanted out of the hidden folders in my home directory. Things like the .config folder, the firefox folder for the backups of the favorites. I also had used the backup funtion in Evolution before trying to upgrade so it made a GZ of everything it had. Then I booted with a CD with the 10.04 ISO to use it a bt and make sure it run OK. In this mode I was able to copy over all of the files I wanted from the hidden folders, Apache config, the contents of my var/www and /usr/lib/cgi-bin and other assorted stuff. You can put in on a thumbdrive or network it over to another pc. I took a break for a few hours to make sure I would have a chance to remember anything else I want off of the drive before I did a clean install. You know, haste makes waste. Nothing like a clear head before proceeding further. Then I installed with the CD and no problems. It took an hour or two to get things back the way I want them in 10.04.
    I do like 10.04 now that I have been using it for a day. Yeah the splash screen looks ugly but hey it's gone in a few seconds. Ubuntu is so configurable in System->Preferences->Appearance that I can be happy with the look I can create and put my own hi-res desktop graphic up....so I am happy with it.

    I've been using UNIX then Linux for years and it has come a long long way to being real easy. My having to reconfig a bunch of stuff is nothing compared to what you used to have to do to set up a machine. Like actually compiling from source, finding obscure settings to make things happen with the modem. So I can't complain!

    So be careful if you try upgrade. Backup everything you can think of, just in case you have to do a clean install via CD. Just prepare as if you are going to do a clean install before you hit the upgrade button.

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  28. I am not sure what the author was expecting an Ubuntu LTS release to be. LTS means long term support, 3 years on the desktop apps, 5 years on the server apps, that is all.

    Other than the length of security updates and bugfixes, an LTS release is just like any other Ubuntu release -- filled with many bugs, but overall a fairly good system.

    Stop blabbering on about what you thought "should" be in an LTS release and get a clue. LTS does not mean more stable, better, prettier, whatever your misconceived notions of the letters LTS stand for. LTS get longer support, period.

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  29. Thanks all for the great posts!

    @ez: I am afraid that's your interpretation as well, far from what Shuttleworth has been advertising in the few months before the release of 10.04.

    I didn't write my review based on what I think an LTS release shoud be, but on what it should be, period. The concept that you are bringing forward (a standard release with longer support) is plain ridiculous.

    Anyways, don't take my word for it, you can simply read the Ubuntu Wiki definition on LTS HERE. Here's an excerpt:

    "1. We are more conservative in our package merge with Debian, auto-synching with Debian testing, instead of Debian unstable.
    2. We start stabilizing the release early by significantly limiting the number of new features. We will choose which features we package into the LTS release, versus which ones we leave out and allow for users to optionally download and use from a separate archive.
    3. Avoid structural changes as far as possible, such as changing the default set of applications, lots of library transitions, or system layer changes (example: introducing KMS or hal → DeviceKit would not have been appropriate changes in a LTS).

    Furthermore, we define the LTS to be:

    * Enterprise Focused: We are targeting server and multiple desktop installations, where the average user is moderately risk averse.
    * Compatible with New Hardware: We will make point releases throughout the development cycle to provide functional support for new server and desktop hardware.
    * More Tested: We will shorten the development window and extend the Beta cycle to allow for more testing and bug fixing "

    There you have it, it seems LTS means a lot more than you thought. But I go beyond that definition because I read statements from Shuttleworth and he clearly wants to be competing against the big OS names. That demands that Canonical makes things better than the competition, or else they will never convince anybody.

    On a different note, Canonical is a company with a financial goal in mind. I can't remember the exact dates, but the goal was to be self sustainable within 2 or 3 years, something that is not the case as of today. The company is trying different models to make money, such as Ubuntu One and their music store. However, the model that has been working best is that of RedHat, which is releasing something that is enterprise attractive and then make money supporting it. That is the main reason why Canonical puts out an LTS release and the main reason for my criticism, for Ubuntu 10.04 is anything but enterprise attractive.

    Now, I guess it should be you who stops blabbering, at least before you get your facts straight.

    Take care

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  30. @danny8: Thanks for your kind comments! I am glad you like the site!

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  31. Hi Chema,

    I like to Share
    Move Ubuntu 10.04 Window Buttons from Left to Right,
    http://www.geekyard.com/os/windows/move-ubuntu-10-04-window-buttons-from-left-to-right/

    ReplyDelete
  32. @Geekyard: Thanks for that, but I already posted in a different article how to do that very same thing.

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  33. Life is a journey
    What you have gone through can help others
    Please share

    http://wikijourney.org

    ReplyDelete