Windows users see a new release every four years or so; Mac users, about every two. Ubuntu users, on the other hand, get a new Ubuntu upgrade every six months free of charge. Sometimes the changes are major; sometimes minor.
Ubuntu 10.10, codename “Maverick Meerkat”, is an upgrade that consists of mostly minor changes. If you’re trying out Ubuntu for the first time you should probably use 10.10, but if you’re using 10.04 right now there’s no single compelling reason to upgrade (besides the usual geeky quest for the latest thing).
But enough chit-chat; let’s take a look at what’s in this new version of Ubuntu.
After slowing evolving into something useful in recent years, the Software Center now has a new home page. Categories are broken down as you’d expect, but below them are the new “Featured” and “What’s New” sections. The idea here is to help people stumble upon new software.
It’s not exactly the App Store, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Another possible step in the right direction is the “For Purchase” section. The Ubuntu team is hoping to sell software via this channel, something almost unheard of for a desktop Linux distribution.
The hope is this will attract developers to the platform. I myself can’t wait to use this to pay for InDesign and high-quality games, but the question is whether Linux users will be willing to pay for software when so much good stuff can be had for free. Time will tell, I suppose; for now there’s not much in the way of pay packages here.
The installation process is perhaps the most improved thing for end users. My favorite, though probably the most controversial, change is the inclusion of this screen:
As you can see the installer now includes some helpful information about system requirements. Beyond that, though, you can now install Flash/Java/MP3 capability during installation and in one click. You can also have Ubuntu automatically download all updates before rebooting, which is a great way to ensure your desktop is totally ready for you in a few simple clicks.
The partitioning tool is also a great deal simpler now, which will be welcome to those with little understanding of such things:
As you can see everything is explained in plain English, but access to more geeky controls is only a click away. Brilliant.
Another nice touch with the installation process: the annoying questions, including time zone and user name, are asked after the partitioning process begins. This is a really slick way to speed up installation, because it’s really easy for a computer to multi-task in this way.
There’s a really slick slide show that happens during installation; read more about that over at OMG Ubuntu.
- As mentioned during the summer, Shotwell is now the default photo manager in place of F-Spot.
- Gwibber is a touch faster, thanks to a backend switch.
- There’s a new Ubuntu Font.
- The volume button in the tray can now also control your music player.
- More recent versions of all your favorite packages.
- The Netbook Edition now uses a complete version of the Unity Interface; expect a full write-up soon.
Worth The Upgrade?
Is Ubuntu 10.10 worth the upgrade? That’s really up to you. If nothing here excites you I’d suggest sticking with Ubuntu 10.04, which as a Long Term Support release will continue working really well for you. But if a certain feature here excites you, or if you just plain like staying on the cutting edge, I’d recommend upgrading. There’s no reason not to; Ubuntu is free.
And you Windows users wondering whether or not to try 10.10? Come on; you’ll like it! There are plenty of reasons for a disgruntled Windows user to try Ubuntu, and even if you don’t want to install a new operating system there are also reasons every Windows user should have a Ubuntu Live CD.
Head over to Ubuntu.com today to download the latest Ubuntu, or you can have a CD mailed to your house free of charge. Yeah; that’s right. Mailed to your house, for free. There’s no reason not to try.
Stay tuned to MakeUseOf for an in-depth look at the new Ubuntu netbook operating system, and a list of recommended steps for new Ubuntu users. For now, though, discuss what you think of the new Ubuntu in the comments below, or feel free to ask any questions about trying this new operating system out. We’re here to help!
Image Credits : Photo from Wikipedia under Creative Commons License, originally by