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May 10, 2010
I’ve been using Ubuntu 10.04 on a production machine for about 10 days. Now that I’ve gotten to know it better, here are some thoughts on what I like and dislike about the latest and greatest version of the world’s most popular Linux distribution.
Overall, I was impressed with Lucid from the first time I booted to a live version of one of the early alphas, and the release continues to please me in its current form. The new look is refreshing, the updated applications are nice and my computer feels faster (although that, like most perceptions, may be mostly in my head; as usual, I didn’t run any benchmarks).
More specifically, I’ve enjoyed playing around with PiTiVi, the video editor that comes installed by default. I’ve also surprised myself by not yet finding a reason to install the GIMP, which I was sure I would miss when it was removed from the default application stack. It turns out F-Spot is equally capable of cropping pictures, which is pretty much the extent of my image-editing activity.
While I’ve never been one for over-sharing the quotidian details of my life via the MyFace universe, I’ve enjoyed playing around with the social-networking client Gwibber, which also ships by default in Lucid. I can now read about my friends’ relationship successes and failures without having to open a browser. Maybe I’ll even revive my moribund Twitter account one of these days.
Evince, Ubuntu’s default PDF reader, has also received some nice interface updates for Lucid, as well as the ability to invert colors. My favorite part of Evince has always been its speed and simplicity, especially when measured against the bloated, proprietary PDF reader available from Adobe, but these additional updates are a nice touch.
On the other side of the coin, my experience with Lucid over the last several days has not been without its negative points. Above all, I’m deeply disappointed with the new Gnome volume applet, particularly because it doesn’t allow me to change the volume using the arrow keys on my keyboard easily.
And as a side-rant, why does the volume applet need to be completely redesigned for every Ubuntu release? Literally every release that I can recall has had a totally new interface for the volume control. I admit that I’m impressed with the developers’ ability to come up with so many different iterations of such a simple little utility, but I’d also love it if they’d pick a good design and stick with it.
I’m also not a fan of having the window-control buttons on the left side of the titlebar. It just didn’t feel right to me that way, and not only because the layout reminded me of Macs and Steve Jobs’s astonishing capacity for hypocrisy. I’m not ashamed to say I moved the buttons back to their “rightful” place.
Finally, while I don’t own a touchscreen device myself, I have dear friends who do, and they tell me Lucid has been a disaster by failing to include a utility for calibrating touchscreens. Apparently this has to do with HAL being deprecated and all that, or so I’ve read. Fair enough, but this represents a major regression if it means touchscreen computers can’t be configured properly.
Despite my grievances with volume applets and touch-screen calibration, however, I’ve been quite happy with Lucid all in all. It’s a solid LTS release that incorporates a number of new features alongside impressive stability. If you haven’t upgraded yet, you’re missing out.
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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