I have now been using the latest release of the Ubuntu Linux distribution for many weeks now (yes I did start using it before it was actually released, I just couldn’t wait), and feel comfortable giving an educated statement about it. I am using the 64bit version, mainly because I think there are almost no reasons left to stick with 32bit if you have an actual 64bit system, and also because I would like to see progress made and by using it want to make a contribution to the establishment of 64bit as a standard. Ubuntu has a semi-annual release cycle, with a so-called „LTS“ release every couple of releases, meaning every now and then they put an extra effort into releasing a really rock-solid version that they will give long-term commercial support for, hence „long term service (LTS)“. Version 10.04 (released month of April 2010) is such an LTS release, and that is one of the reasons it has been highly anticipated, the other is because the previous release was a major letdown by many accounts. But aside from that, it boasts a polished new interface with a new corporate design, a set of decent improvements to usability and increased support for cloud-based services, which include an online music store.
I think the release is one of the best in a long time, it offers a nicely polished interface, a decent set of applications (and a user-friendly online store to install additional applications as needed) and adequate hardware support. It shows the additional effort into usability that has been made in the last few months, even thought it looks more and more like a Mac. My main gripe? The whole boot process, which was supposed to be super fast and smooth and beautiful now with „plymouth“ still looks shitty and doesn’t work well, even without proprietary graphics drivers (which don’t support so-called „kernel mode setting“ required to make the boot process pretty). For most of the time you see a dark screen and when the nice boot splash finally comes up, the system has booted enough to go to the login screen, so you only get to see it for a second. The whole point was to show the splash screen instead of the black screen or not? Additionally, hibernate (a key feature for laptop users) still doesn’t work well. They dropped Gimp, the major Photoshop-replacement, which isn’t a bad thing, but they also went for Empathy as the default instant messenger, which is a ridiculously shitty and non-customizable application, and they stuck with Evolution, an Outlook-replacement which hasn’t changed since 1990 and isn’t half as innovative as Thunderbird, but more stable. All in all, I wished they had spent a few more months fixing bugs and polishing, working on the hardware support and giving third party developers more time. Some of the decisions (Empathy, etc) are clearly a step backwards and will only annoy advanced users. Also there seem to be no major under the hood improvements in terms of energy usage and performance other than the system being just overall more stable. Verdict: Best Ubuntu so far, but still a long way away from perfect