Even at this beta stage, Ubuntu 10.10 looks to be the correct way forward for the distribution. Ubuntu might not attract some experienced Linux users who prefer other distributions, however it is likely to gain widespread acceptance with its mix of intuitive and high quality software.
Hassle-free installation; revamped Software Center; multi-touch support.
Not as many visual changes as in version 10.04; business users may prefer to stick to LTS releases
1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 5GB hard disk space
Ubuntu has long been the Linux distribution favoured by businesses wanting to make a hassle-free switch from Windows, and the full release of the latest version, Ubuntu 10.10, is due this coming Sunday (October 10). In this review, we’ll be looking at the beta release of Ubuntu 10.10.
Version 10.04 of Ubuntu arrived earlier this year and was an LTS (long term support) release, which means it benefits from three years of support for the desktop version; the server edition gets five years. This latest version, however, is a standard release and only gets security updates for 18 months.
Being a smaller update, it's not surprising to find it lacks the visual novelty that its predecessor had, but we found it shows Canonical is sticking to its plan of refining Ubuntu into a polished product that will rival not Microsoft's Windows 7, but Apple's Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Linux distributions have focused far too long on the inner workings of the operating system rather than the interface presented to the user.
As a kernel, Linux has been more than a match for Windows' NT or OS X's Mach kernels, but an operating system isn't completely defined by its underlying kernel and 10.10 pays much needed attention to the upper layers.
Those who fear about getting past the install phase should stop worrying. The combination of a try before you install LiveCD and what can only be described as a masterpiece of an installer means that installing Ubuntu is as easy as making a cup of tea.
Many reviews in the past have concentrated on the installer but frankly the whole procedure is so well polished by now that perhaps the biggest nod of approval would be not to mention it at all. In short, businesses looking to roll out Ubuntu 10.10 on a large number of workstations therefore have little to worry about in terms of installation.
Actually, the revamped installer is the first hint of what Ubuntu has become all about. The attention to detail is clearly evident as 10.10, even at this beta stage, is showing the level of design detail we have come to expect from Apple. Small, perhaps even inconsequential details such as the volume adjust controls are delightful.