We always get caught in a debate of which is the better OS, Windows or Linux. Every time a new release of a Linux distribution or Windows is out this debate becomes a war of the worlds. I have been using Ubuntu since its 7.10 release and today the current version of Ubuntu on my laptop is 10.04(RC). In these years I have seen how Linux and Ubuntu has come along in leaps and bounds in terms of usability. The goal set by Ubuntu to simplify Linux and break the jinx of ‘Geek’s OS’ has been well received by the general crowd. The reason being, more and more people are using them. How do we know more people are using Ubuntu and Linux? Well , here are some simple facts.
1. Go to Ubuntu Brainstorm , you will see everyday a new idea is submitted on how to make Ubuntu better. This is not done by a group of dedicated geeks. If you look carefully, you will see they are not geeks who post their desires. They are normal users like you and me. Geeks don’t post ideas, they make their own software.
2. Go to Ubuntu Forums, you will see the number of users posting for help.
3. New hardware manufacturers joining Linux bandwagon
4. New software being ported to Linux . The latest being Team Viewer and Steam
5. Ubuntu developers making an effort to listen to the demands of the users.
Codenamed Lucid Lynx, Ubuntu 10.04 aims to bring on a change to the way Linux is used. It has stepped on to become social networking friendly and more user friendly. Lucid Lynx is on RC right now but it has managed to successfully incorporate some ground breaking changes/additions to the new release. Summarising them :
1. New integrated Messenger , Ubuntu One and Social Networking status menu called Me Menu. You can post status updates to Sites like Facebook and Twitter from this menu. No need of a browser or an external application. Gwibber is included as the default social networking client.
2. Ubuntu One : This cloud service, first of its kind by a Linux OS, was launched last October as a beta service. This release it includes huge number of improvements and has become more stable. It allows 2GB free space for starters. Increased space of 50 GB is available for a fee of $10.
Some of its important features are . i) file & folder sync ii) contacts sync with evolution mail client iii) firefox bookmarks sync iv) Music Download Sync v) Notes sync vi ) mobile contacts sync (in collaboration with Funambol)
3. iPod/ iPhone support out of the box.
4. Online Music Store where you can buy any music of your choice
5. Avatar Creating software called Me Maker. This is not installed by default but is available in the repositories.
6. Enhanced functionality of Empathy: Empathy was set as the default IM client last release and had come under severe criticism. But it has undergone a huge transformation and now it sports a brand new , sleek look with new icons and status message symbols. It now supports audio and video calls if you have a google account. I tested the video calls and it works just fine. Another very important addition to empathy is desktop sharing.You can share you desktop with any user whom you are chatting with on empathy. This is similar to desktop sharing available with windows live. I tested desktop sharing as well and this works very nicely. It also supports music status updates from Rhythmbox. This means your status message will be updated with the current song playing on the music player.
6. Included new video editing software named PiTivi. Gimp was taken out citing reasons for being too complex and this video editing software was put in. I personally would have liked addition of a paint program like Pinta or Gnome Paint but nevertheless a good step in the right direction, I feel.
7. Fresh new themes Radiance and Ambiance added and the old default orange theme has been removed. 10 new stunning wallpapers have also been added.
8. Buttons shifted from right to left and sports a Mac OS X feel.
9. New updates from Gnome 2.30 with better looking thumbnails with rounded edges.
10. Nautilus sports a sleeker look with a new dual pane option
11. PPTP VPN now supported out of the box
12. Brand new installer with slideshow
13 Plymouth replaces xsplash . Much smoother and faster startup.
These updates might seem less in number but it is a very big step for any Linux OS considering the fact its market share is a mere 1%-3%. All the changes are truly the right step towards creating a perfect desktop.