Ok, so I said that I was going to give the latest Ubuntu a go and that I did a while ago. Coming from a MS Windows point of view, I've always been accustomed to the next version being a big "upgrade" on the previous version. (Ok, this is a very controversial view seeing that it's not always true.) But, what I mean is that there were always pretty big changes. When it comes to Ubuntu, 6 months doesn't give a huge amount of time to introduce changes. So, it's a double edged sword - on the one hand it's the latest and greatest, but on the other, it's kinda more of the same. But in all fairness, I think their release cycle strategy gives the best of both worlds - those that want the absolute latest can have it and those that don't want to be upgrading every 6 months can stick to the LTS (Long Term Support) version. So, Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx is the LTS version and therefore is quite an important milestone as Canonical will be supporting it for the next 3 years on the desktop and 5 years on the server. But, does it live up the the hype?

Firstly, I'll concerntrate on the changes between 9.10 and then later for those upgrading from the previous LTS.

Pressing the power button had me booting into Ubuntu on an "average" machine in a timed 16 seconds. (with the obligatory disclaimer, "actual results may vary.") So far so good, very impressive... Once booted, There's no longer an Orange/brown theme - it's now a purple kinda hue. Not my favourite as mentioned before, but not a big deal. Three clicks and it's gone.

At some point there had been rumors of Gnome 3 possibly being in 10.04. Not so - It's currently still using the Gnome 2.30 interface. In other words, it doesn't look massively different from before. It's just slightly more refined. There are two more themes introduced called Ambiance and Radiance. They're OK, but I normally end up setting my own anyway. Interestingly, the close/ minimise/ maximise buttons have moved to the left hand side of the title bar à la Mac style. If that doesn't suite you (and personally, I'm used to it on the right) it can be changed however.

One of the bigger changes in terms of applications/functions is the social networking side. The "Me Menu" integrates with Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo Messenger and ICQ, and allows users to broadcast to services like Facebook and Twitter via the built-in Empathy chat client and Gwibber microblogging client. A one stop shop for all social accounts could come in handy for many users and it's probably a big plus. There are also a few changes to applications - some added and Gimp removed. Interesting...

On the technical side, there have been improvements to hardware support, kernel etc, but overall it's not a massive change from 9.10. But as mentioned before, this being an LTS version, canonical probably doesn't want to introduce massive changes as they'd have to support it for a while.

So... The million $$$ question is... is it worth changing to the new 10.04? About two month's after giving it a go on another machine, I still haven't swapped from 9.10 to 10.04 on my primary work machine as yet. I found one or two small problems with it and the additional social functionality wasn't quite enough to warrant an upgrade to the new version. That said however, if you're new to Ubuntu/ Linux, it's definitely a brilliant operating system.


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