I couple of months ago I covered what was to be expected in the upcoming release of Ubuntu (Lucid Lynx - 10.4). This release will happen in April 2010 and is much anticipated by users across the globe. I have installed the Alpha of 10.4 and have been using it for a while now. It is time to offer up my impressions of what is to come to those wacky Ubuntu fan boys and girls.
At first blush
What I was really surprised about was the lack of the new look. I had reported that a team of Ubuntu developers were developing a new GTK+ theme that would include RGBA support. This support would introduce a better (and native) transparency to the widgets. At this point I can find no indication that this is going to happen. In fact, the only change of appearance I now hear of is Ubuntu moving away from the brown color scheme in favor or a gray color scheme. What I have seen, of proposed themes, are not attractive at all. Modern desktops have taken a very different approach. To that end the average users are expecting a bit more from the look and feel of their interface. I have always wondered why a distribution, such as Ubuntu, hasn't always installed Emerald by default.
So upon boot (for the Alpha at least), we're looking at what appears to the same old Ubuntu...with one MAJOR exception. After installation the boot time of Ubuntu 10.4 has finally reached that 10 second mark. Of course this will depend upon your hardware...but my test machine is nothing to WOW anyone. But without a single tweak I am seeing 10 second boots. Pretty amazing!
You may have recently read my article "Easy folder sharing in GNOME". Well it looks like 10.4 will take this a step further. If you click on System > Preferences you will see an entry labeled Personal File Sharing. It seems as if the Ubuntu team has picked up on the users' needs to share files with Windows users and make that process as painless as possible. Unfortunately, in the alpha release, this system isn't working. I'm sure it will when the full release hits the net.
Where's my music?
Weren't we promised music in the Ubuntu Software Center? That has yet to appear. There is, however, one minor difference in the UBC. When you open up the software center you will see that the old "Get Software" section is now a directory tree which can expand. When you do expand the tree you will see a "Provided by Ubuntu" entry. This is new. I am certain this is the pre-cursor to the addition of third-party software and music to the Ubuntu Software Center.
The alpha version of 10.4 is certainly NOT to be used in a production environment. If you want to see what is up and coming make sure you do so in either a virtual machine or on a test machine only. Why? You will experience crashing. Right now you can not install software with the UBC without a crash. The software installs, but a crash is reported as well.
I have also noticed if you have your screen set to lock upon starting of the screensaver, you will wind up having to do a hard shutdown. When you try to enter your password to unlock the screen the spinner just keeps spinning away - but no unlock action occurs.
Outside of those two issues, I have yet to come across any deal breakers. Normal day-to-day usage works as well as any release of Ubuntu to date.
Ubuntu 10.4 is going to be an exciting release. I am only hoping that Canonical will get the music added as well as the stability of the Ubuntu Software Center and the themes straightened out. Other than that, you can finally look forward to that heralded 10 second boot time you have been waiting for!
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