Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" released

Here comes the Koala!

Today Canonical - the company that sponsors the development of the world's most popular GNU/Linux distribution, Ubuntu - is taking the wraps off of the latest version, 9.10, codenamed "Karmic Koala".

Karmic is said to be the most polished version of Ubuntu ever created. It boots more quickly, looks more stylish, and includes new versions of popular applications like Firefox (3.5). Plus it comes with a new Software Center (an improved substitute for Add/Remove Applications) that lets users add apps more easily.

Karmic also includes hookups for a new Canonical-backed web service called Ubuntu One, which allows users to remotely back up their data. Two gigabytes is available for free, and fifty gigabytes can be rented for a low monthly fee.

Pidgin has been ditched as the default instant message client in favor of Empathy. Current Ubuntu users who are fond of Pidgin need not worry, as upgrading will not remove Pidgin from the operating system.

Canonical's Chief Operating Officer, Jane Silber, said of the release:
Ubuntu 9.10 gives users more reasons than ever to seriously consider Linux at a time when many are thinking again about their operating system options. We are delivering a platform for users interested in an easy-to-use, great-looking, web-friendly operating system,. A faster, more beautiful boot and login sequence, file and contact synchronisation through online services and great experiences on the most popular notebook, desktop and netbook models continue to drive Ubuntu into the mainstream of computing choices.
For those who are not familiar with Ubuntu and GNU/Linux, it's a free operating system (free as in free speech, not free beer) because it gives the user freedom. Ubuntu's code is open source, which means that anyone can look at it, take it apart, or modify it. Ubuntu contains no bloatware (unwanted shortcuts and preinstalled applications that are frequently present on new computers running Windows), malware, or spyware. Because it is better designed than Windows it is less susceptible to viruses.

It is also much faster. Windows can be painfully slow. Microsoft has tried to address this somewhat in Windows 7, but there's only so much the company can do. Slowness is often caused by the addition of programs the user wants which are always running in the background. (For example, Google and Adobe products have updating services which are always on.) Security software, particularly Norton AntiVirus, can also make Windows slow to a crawl.

With Ubuntu, most of the common applications a user might need are built in, and more can be seamlessly added without having to go to any website to download them. Adding a firewall to Ubuntu doesn't slow down the operating system.

Ubuntu users who want to upgrade to Karmic Koala simply need to visit the Update Manager, which will say, "New release available." (If it doesn't, check the update settings to make sure that the system is set to notify when new releases are available). For those who want to freshly install Karmic, it is available for download at BitTorrent is recommended, especially for today, because all the download servers are going to be taxed.

Happy downloading!


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