As you might have heard Ubuntu 10.10 was released today. I’ve chosen to take a look at it and judge its usability and features.

Please note I’m running Ubuntu 10.10 inside a virtual machine and therefore can’t judge hardware compatibility.

After the boot sequence you’re greeted with a screen asking you if you want to install or try Ubuntu. I choose to install it and take a look at the features later.

 

The initial screen shown when booting the Ubuntu 10.10 live cd

The initial screen shown when booting the Ubuntu 10.10 live cd

 

The initial install screen shows the best conditions for installing Ubuntu and also offers you the chance to download any updates that may have been released since the release of Ubuntu. You’re also given a choice to install third-party software (flash, mp3 support and other nice stuff I believe). I check both boxes and move forward.

 

Preparing to install Ubuntu - optimal conditions

Preparing to install Ubuntu - optimal conditions

 

Next up is partitioning. Here I’m given the choice between using the entire disk or manually specifying the partitions. I assume that if I had Windows installed on the same disk I would be offered to install them side by side as I have with earlier versions of Ubuntu. I choose to use the entire disk and proceed to the next screen where I select my drive and click install now.

 

Chose between using the entire disk or manual partitioning

Chose between using the entire disk or manual partitioning

 

From there it gives me a chance to set my timezone, keyboard layout and make a user. It’s very nice that Ubuntu starts installing itself and then prompts you for the necessary information. This saves some time and makes it feel like the install isn’t taking that long. After entering your information a slide show appears giving you a look into the features of Ubuntu.

 

The first slide in the Ubuntu installer slide show

The first slide in the Ubuntu installer slide show

 

When the install completes you’re asked to restart your machine and then you can use your new Ubuntu installation.

Once Ubuntu is done rebooting you’re shown a grey login screen with a colorful background in Ubuntu colors.

 

The Ubuntu login screen

The Ubuntu login screen

 

When the desktop appears you have two panels available. At 800×600 the upper panel is almost filled with menus and indicators. It looks a little confusing with all the icons at first but I guess at higher resolutions it won’t look as filled.

 

The standard Ubuntu desktop

The standard Ubuntu desktop

 

Amongst the indicators on the top panel we have a battery monitor, the sound menu, a mail and chat menu and a calendar/time and date menu.

As the default browser Ubuntu comes with Mozilla Firefox but for those wishing to use Chrome/ium it is easily found in the Ubuntu Software Center.

 

Chromium the base for Google Chrome is available in the Ubuntu Software Center

Chromium the base for Google Chrome is available in the Ubuntu Software Center

 

Something I believe is new in the Ubuntu Software Center is the new and featured applications on the front page. So if you have some time to spare and you don’t know what to do then trying out some of the new or featured applications might be a good way to spend some time.

 

The featured and new applications in Ubuntu Software Center

The featured and new applications in Ubuntu Software Center

 

Flash is already installed if you ticked the box with third-party applications during the install. In case you didn’t then you can easily install it in the Ubuntu Software Center along with Java, mp3 support and other goodies.

As a bonus Ubuntu comes with a movie editor (PiTiVi), an office suite (OpenOffice), some games (Mines, Mahjongg, Sudoku etc.) and much more.

For instant messaging Ubuntu settled on Empathy that handles multiple protocols including MSN, GTalk, AIM, Yahoo! etc. If you’re not happy with Empathy you can always install Pidgin, another excellent piece of IM software.

 

Empathy supports many different IM protocols

Empathy supports many different IM protocols

 

Taking a look at the update manager, it looks nice and simple. You click install updates, type your password, wait a few seconds (or minutes if you haven’t updated for a while) and voila the job is done. It doesn’t get any simpler than that (at least not in my mind).

 

The Ubuntu update manager

The Ubuntu update manager

 

To sum it up: Ubuntu 10.10 is a very neat package, with everything needed for web surfing, basic office work (writing documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc.) and the occasional gaming. I believe once the major software vendors start showing a little love then we’ll have a complete solution that outperforms Windows in most areas.

For those interested you can find more information about Ubuntu on http://www.ubuntu.com/

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