Ubuntu is now the most prominent Linux distribution perhaps due to its philosophy of creating '”Linux for humans” and targeting the consumer first and foremost. With a regular 6 monthly release Ubuntu has been making leaps and bounds and the last release, Hardy Heron, began to make Linux actually look like a real alternative to Windows.
The new 8.10 release is called Intrepid Ibex and has 10 days to go before an official release. Currently you can download the beta to try from the Ubuntu website.
I have to admit, I was a little disappointed with this release. Primarily the difference between this release and Hardy Heron is a lot of bug fixes, some performance improvements, better hardware support, improved ‘connectivity’ features and a fairly horrible new ‘human theme’.
In essence it’s the kind of ‘service pack’ release that Microsoft provides. I was actually hoping for some dramatic interface improvements, however I can only assume these are still being developed. Mark Shuttleworth (the founder of Ubuntu) has made the comment that he doesn’t yet feel Ubuntu is ready for the average end-user at this point.
He strongly believes in open-source software, but until Ubuntu provides the kind of experience Windows or Apple does he would not recommend people to try it for the first time:
“There’s also recognition for the scale of the challenge that faces us. When I laid out the goal of “delivering a user experience that can compete with Apple in two years” at OSCON, I had many questions afterwards about how on earth we could achieve that. “Everyone scratches their own itch, how can you possibly make the UI consistent?” was a common theme. And it’s true - the free software desktop is often patchy and inconsistent. But I see the lack of consistency as both a weakness (GNOME, OpenOffice and Firefox all have different UI toolkits, and it’s very difficult to make them seamless) and as a strength - people are free to innovate, and the results are world-leading. Our challenge is to get the best of both of those worlds.”
“All of this has me tapdancing to work in the mornings, because we’re sketching out really interesting ideas for user interaction in Launchpad and in the desktop. The team has come together very nicely, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the processes, brainstorming and prototyping. I can’t wait to see those ideas landing in production!”
All of this must mean that Ubuntu’s new interface is still coming, perhaps for the next 6 monthly release, I look forward to when it does. Till then Intrepid Ibex provides some good under-the-hood updates, the rapid boot time and lightening fast shut-down are particularly impressive.
Hardware support, Linux’s biggest issue, has for most purposes been solved. Now the focus is on the next biggest problem – the interface and user experience, something I’m confident they will eventually solve equally well.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.