Monday, December 18, 2006

Ubuntu 6.10 at a glance

Ever the late adopter, it's only now that I've got Ubuntu 6.10 running on my Thinkpad.

I've been pretty happy with Ubuntu 6.06 LTS the past few months. However, with the new year just around the corner, it was time to reformat the old hard disk. Also, since, I have an article due for PC Magazine Philippines on Windows Vista alternatives, I thought it was time to give Edgy Eft a spin.

Nothing significantly different about the interface, just some minor tweaks here and there. That's a good thing. It's still very much recognizably Ubuntu.

At first glance, the desktop looks much brighter. It's largely because of the the default wallpaper. It's lighter and sportier and -- dare I say it? -- more Windows-like. The startup and shutdown splash screens also got an upgrade.

The more significant changes are in the default application set.

Many of the mainstays have gotten an upgrade. The Firefox browser is now on version 2. OpenOffice.org is at 2.04. GAIM is at 2.0.0beta3.1, and has ironed out some interface kinks.

Synaptic is all new and much friendlier. All the options are already laid out and organized according to tabs. There's less guesswork and less clicks involved in identifying repositories.

And there are a few new applications not previously seen in earlier versions of Ubuntu.

There's the Disk Usage Analyzer (actually Baobab) which examines directories and file systems for disk space utilization. Pretty nifty for finding out which files are taking up the most space.

F-Spot Photo Manager takes the place of the gthumb viewer (although gthumb is still there). F-Spot does a much better job of organizing pictures, including the use of tags. It also works with Flickr and Picasa.

Tomboy, Post-It-like application, is now installed by default. Tomboy's notes are persistent and use a wiki-like structure. It also exports to HTML, a very handy thing for creating web pages.

The list of additional applications installable from the Applications menu has grown significantly. From a few dozen in previous versions, the list has grown to a couple of hundred. There are far more graphics apps and games available now.

Not that these applications weren't available before; but it's nice to have a quick list with very informative descriptions handy so you can decide which ones you want and need.

So was it worth the upgrade from Dapper Drake? For someone with a very stable system configured just so, then the answer is no. Many of the things Edgy Eft has are just a couple of Synaptic clicks away in Dapper.

However, for those new to the Ubuntu, Edgy provides quite a bit to make the experience more fulfilling.

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