So anyway….. Ubuntu 10.04

I finally broke down and rather than wait for the official launch of Ubuntu’s newest baby snarfed the newest Netbook Edition directly from the .pool. These, dear people, are my first impressions.

Well ok, they’re not my first impressions as I’ve been using and abusing Ubuntu (indeed, many Linuxen variations) for more years than I care to count, and last week put the Release Candidate through its paces too. I pretty much knew what to expect. This is a completely clean install though – I ditched the RC, ran the Windows-based installer from scratch. And…..

I’m impressed. Very, very impressed. This in one Linux release which is smooth, pretty, ass-quick and everything they said it would be. All the hardware in my little Packard-Bell dotS (hey, I didn’t pick the name) netbook works out the box including the key-combos for volume, brightness, etc, and the wifi is flawless. Good stuff.

The shiny new purple styling is gorgeous, but I wish they’d defaulted to the lighter Radiance theme than the darker Ambiance one. It’s an easy enough thing to switch (right-click on the desktop => Themes), but it does dour-down the overall bright-and-clean look of the interface. Switch it over, and the desktop is a Happy Place again.

Looks aren’t everything though. The standard application setup (Firefox, Open Office, GNOME stuff) are all there with Gwibber doing sterling work as a do-it-all social messaging/email/chat client sitting in the top bar. This goes a long way toward this being the most Socially Aware operating system there is, right out the box. If, of course, Ubuntu came in a box. Which is doesn’t. It’s a free download.

While the app setup is good, there’s a few things I added  from the start. Adding Flash and Google Chrome is easy enough, and with the Adblock for Chrome Extension it’s an even faster  and netbook-friendlier option than Firefox. I also added Gnome DO and the all-essential vim, though those are down to personal taste.

It’s not all perfect – no operating system is. The one and only fault I’ve found so far is that enabling Compiz Desktop Effects seems to disable alt-tab switching; I think there’s a conflict over whether GNOME or Compiz is supposed to handle that keyboard shortcut, so neither do. I’m sure there’s an easy fix to that one.

(UPDATE: Fixed! Install CompizConfig Settings Manager, enable Application Switcher – it was off for some reason. Easy.)

First impressions: this is one excellent  release, and highly recommended for experienced Linux’ers and newcomers alike who want to make their computers their own once again.

Till next time!

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