Ubuntu 10.04: A Final Look At What to Expect

Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

April 26, 2010

4 Min Read
Ubuntu 10.04: A Final Look At What to Expect

The official stable release of Ubuntu 10.04 is only days away.  That means we can finally list all of the new features to expect in the next longterm-support version of Ubuntu, without having the developers change them every other day.  With that in mind, here’s a look at what to expect when you upgrade to Lucid Lynx on Thursday.

As a word of introduction, I’d like to observe that Ubuntu’s official release dates have always seemed a bit arbitrary to me.  They’re set months in advance, and are adhered to regardless of the state of the code itself.

This is to say that although Thursday is the official big day, the date is significant only because we deem it significant.  If you’re going to upgrade, you might as well do it today and beat the traffic, since not much will change between now and Thursday (and the damning X memory leak introduced last week has already been fixed.  But that’s just my advice.

What’s New

Whether you upgrade today, Thursday or in July, here’s everything (or at least mostly everything–please feel free to politely point out the changes we’ve inevitably missed) new that you can expect on your desktop:

“Social desktop”

One of Ubuntu’s latest and greatest initiatives its endeavor to be “social from the start” by integrating blogging and social-networking clients into the default software stack, and centralizing access to email and instant messaging.

To this end, Ubuntu 10.04 ships with Gwibber and an indicator applet that helps keep track of all of your MyFace/Twitter/Email/etc. messages from one location.  It looks like this (before you configure your accounts):

Indicator Applet

New installer slideshow

As we wrote last fall, a slideshow to accompany the Ubuntu Ubiquity installer was introduced with Karmic.  But it’s been revamped, content-wise and aesthetically, for Lucid.

Gnome 2.30

Lucid sports Gnome 2.30, which could theoretically be the last member of the 2.x line to ship with Ubuntu.  But only time will tell what the future holds for Gnome 3.0 and Gnome Shell, and whether they’ll be ready in time for Ubuntu 10.10.

I’d bet on not seeing them in Ubuntu next fall, because of all of the debate surrounding them (for a sampling, see this post), combined with the fact that Gnome 3 is not set to become stable till September.  But I have been wrong before.

Google search

For reasons that remain inexplicable, Yahoo! was the default search engine in Firefox for much of Lucid’s development cycle.  Fortunately, Canonical came to its senses recently and restored Google to that position.

I applaud this decision, since I’ve long been personally embittered by Yahoo!’s abuse of punctuation.  More importantly, I’m pretty sure no one uses Yahoo! anymore, besides perhaps some Microsoft employees (plus all of the teenagers on Yahoo! Answers).

Changes to Gnome Games

Ubuntu 10.04 ships with many fewer Gnome games than its predecessors: only Solitaire, Mines, Mahjongg, Soduku and Quadrapassel (or, to use the less politically correct term, “Tetris”) are installed by default, along with a new game, gbrainy.

No more GIMP

To the dismay of many of us, GIMP has been removed from the default software stack.  Unless you’re afraid of Mono, you can still use F-Spot for basic image editing, like cropping and redeye removal, but for serious work you’ll need to install GIMP from the repositories.


The big reason for GIMP’s departure was the introduction of a video editor, PiTiVi, into the default software stack.  PiTiVi won’t be of much use for your next feature film, or even a made-for-TV movie, but it is a relatively intuitive and effective editor for home videos and YouTube clips.

Window buttons moved

In a move that has by this point generated more controversy than it logically should have, Canonical–and Mark Shuttleworth in particular–decided to relocate the buttons for closing, minimizing and maximizing windows to the left of the titlebar, i.e.:

Window Titlebar

Fortunately, this is nothing that a quick modification in gconf won’t solve–although it might have been nicer if a less geeky way to change the button placement had been provided, such as an option in the Appearances utility.

Ubuntu One Music Store

Lucid marks Canonical’s entry into the music business, with a plugin in Rhythmbox (and other media players) enabling users to purchase software using their Ubuntu One accounts.

Ubuntu One Music Store

Ubuntu One Music Store

I haven’t had the time to play with this feature yet in detail, but I will say that I am not encouraged by the grammatical disaster in the fine text that greeted me when I first tried to access the feature in the live environment.

Firefox 3.6.3

Firefox 3.6.3, up from Firefox 3.5, ships with Ubuntu 10.04.  Not a whole lot has changed, but you’ll notice that new tabs now open immediately next to the one from which they’re launched, rather than at the end of the lineup.

New theme

Last but certainly not least, Lucid introduces a brand new theme to Ubuntu, which has retired the storied earthtones of its past.  In addition to the new color scheme, many icons have been updated, and the selection of wallpapers available in Appearances utility has been expanded (you can still, of course, set any image as wallpaper).

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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