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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.