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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" released

The world's most popular GNU/Linux distribution continues to get better.

Today, the fine folks at Canonical announced the availability of Ubuntu 10.10, nicknamed "Maverick Meerkat". And yes, it's no coincidence that Version 10.10 was released on 10/10/10. Normally, distribution releases come at the end of every October and April (six months apart), but we get Maverick early because developers were aiming for the "perfect ten".

There's a lot to like about this release. I ran the upgrade early this morning, and everything went smoothly. I should note that since Lucid Lynx (the previous version) was released, I've actually switched to Kubuntu, so I haven't actually tried the newest incarnation of Ubuntu's default flavor, which makes use of GNOME.

If the above paragraph sounds like gibberish, it's probably because you haven't been introduced to the world of free software yet. GNOME and KDE are desktop environments for GNU/Linux operating systems like Ubuntu. There are many others, but the aforementioned two are the most popular. Kubuntu is Ubuntu with KDE; regular Ubuntu uses GNOME. There's also Xubuntu, which uses yet another desktop environment: Xfce.

A desktop environment is really just a graphical user interface (GUI) that is paired with the operating system. Without desktop environments, our interaction with computers would be limited to text-based commands. The idea of choosing a desktop environment may sound strange to anybody who is used to Windows or Mac, since those operating systems ship with default desktop environments that aren't supposed to be changed.

Conversely, in the free software world, there are lots of choices. You can have it your way. I've become fond of KDE, so I now run Kubuntu rather than Ubuntu. The underlying operating system is the same, though.

No operating system is flawless, but Maverick Meerkat comes pretty close. I haven't run into any bugs yet, which is a good sign. Upgrading from Lucid Lynx was a piece of cake. It took less than a hour and the system came back up just fine.

So what's new? Several things. Most noticeably, Maverick ships with the new "Ubuntu" font, based on the project's logo, which is simply beautiful. The new font is used as the standard font in both Ubuntu and Kubuntu, for menus, title bars, and the like. It's a subtle, yet huge visual enhancement.

Many applications have also been upgraded. For instance, Thunderbird 3.1 is available, along with 3.2.1. (OpenOffice is slated to be replaced by the LibreOffice fork for the next release, Natty Narwhal).

In Kubuntu, the default audio player (Amarok) has been significantly polished and made more stable with Version 2.3.2. Evolution, the default mail program in Ubuntu, has likewise received serious improvements.

There are a lot of under-the-hood performance tweaks in this release — too many to list here — but they make for a more seamless and error-free experience.

Finally, Ubuntu One has improved by leaps and bounds. Canonical explains:
Ubuntu One Basic, available free of charge, provides a personal cloud for sharing and syncing files, contacts, bookmarks and notes, with 2GB of free storage, access to music from the integrated store and (new in 10.10) a beta client for Windows allowing users to integrate their Windows and Ubuntu worlds.
Maverick can be easily downloaded from the Ubuntu website. Those already using Ubuntu can upgrade with just a few clicks by running their update manager. (Check your settings to make sure "Show new distribution releases" is set to "Normal", otherwise you won't see a Maverick upgrade prompt!)

Happy installing!


Blogger Max said...

any new drivers or anything?

October 10, 2010 5:54 PM  

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