Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon - Overview


Updated: November 30, 2007

This article includes movies! See below.

Ubuntu screenshot 3

Update, November 2008: I have written a very extensive review / tutorial on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, which was released on October 30, 2008. This article covers the following topics: Wireless, Bluetooth and webcam support in live session on several laptops, a short installation guide, overview of new features in the latest release including tabbed browsing, Private folders, Guest session, Service script, Network Manager, live streaming, Deskbar, creating bootable USB disks, multimedia support for MP3, Flash and Java, installation and use of popular software like Skype, Google Earth, Picasa, and much more. You should definitely check this one out.

Original article:

First of all, good job guys!

It's been a month or so since the latest version of Ubuntu has been released. A very interesting month, I must say.

Gutsy is a vast improvement over the previous versions. It has become so friendly that veteran Linux users might feel overwhelmed by this friendliness, like a Thai taxi driver landing on the smoothest German autobahn. The lack of effort needed to accomplish things might dazzle the hardcore command-line fans.

This article will give you a chance to appreciate how much the Linux world has improved recently. Indeed, it has been about 18 months since I have written my Kubuntu tutorial. It's been about a year since I have installed Ubuntu 6.10 Edgy Eft on one of my machines. Since, many things have changed, all for good.

Autumn 2006

Last November, I have installed Edgy on a brand-new AMD64 machine and been forced - not that I have not enjoyed it, mind it - to tweak quite a lot, manually configuring almost everything. This is a must for all true Linux fans, but new Windows converts would not appreciate it.

Here's a brief list of the some of the things I have had to do, all by myself:

Autumn 2007

I did not have to do any of the above. Everything worked instantly. This is extremely encouraging, especially for new Linux converts, who do not fancy spending their first Linux experience in forums asking endless questions.

Hardware support

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon recognized my brand-new hardware out of the box. Nvidia drivers were offered and installed, working as promised. The sound worked. The network adapters worked.

Mounting of drives / partitions

All of my 11 partitions (NTFS, FAT32, Ext3) have been auto-mounted, including the write ability for Windows partitions.

Multimedia

Most of the codecs were there. The only thing missing was the Amarok media player, which, after a simple installation, asked me to install the missing mp3 codecs. I only had to click the mouse once.

Shortcuts

They are added automatically with the installation of new software. Quite reassuring for new users that are not quite confident about rummaging in /usr/bin and /usr/local directories, looking for the binaries.

More pleasant surprises

Encryption

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon comes with the superb TrueCrypt encryption software installed, allowing to create secure volumes and mount existing encrypted shares. It took me just 54 seconds to mount my external 500GB volume and access the data backed up there.

Compiz Fusion

The new Compiz Fusion shineware is totally sweet. See below for screenshots and movies!

All that remained for me was to configure the printer (Lexmark, which has no Linux drivers), Samba sharing, and install VMware Server, something that could not have been done automatically, nor is necessarily the domain of every home user.

Now let's see some interesting pictures!

Here's the standard desktop, furnished with a fiery A for Anarchy. Fire is one of the many cool plugins for Compiz.

Ubuntu desktop

Below, you can read a pair of articles explaining how to enable Compiz Fusion in Ubuntu, one for Nvidia drivers and one for ATI drivers. By default, Ubuntu offers some desktop effects, but for the whole deck of tricks, you will have to install and configure the Compiz Settings Manager.

Enabling Compiz Fusion on Ubuntu 7.10 (Nvidia)

Enabling Compiz Fusion on Ubuntu 7.10 (ATI)

Best of all, you don't need any special graphic card to enjoy this. After all, we're talking Linux here ...

I have also installed VMware Server, which allows me to run a variety of guest operating systems, including Windows. For anyone who really must have Windows or Windows-based applications, here's the most practical solution.

Ubuntu VMware

Compiz Fusion allows you to enjoy multiple desktops and flip them around. The Cube effect wraps the several desktops as faces of a 3D figure, which may actually be a cube, but could also be a pyramid, hexagon or anything else.

Ubuntu Cube

You can also tile your desktops and review the massive display of windows easily. Simple navigation with the mouse or even cursors can help you move around.

Ubuntu expo

Movies!

Unable to resist, I had to shoot a couple of videos demonstrating my multimedia abilities, as well as the staggering beauty of Compiz.

Fir this purpose, I have used Xvidcap, a screen capture utility, which allows you to record movies or sequences of individual frames, which you can then combine into a video. After some practicing with shooting the movies, I resized them using ffmpeg, to make the output smaller and bandwidth-friendly.

Here's a simple tutorial that should get you started with Xvidcap: Screencasts with xvidcap. And here's ffmpeg documentation.

This time, the movies are available for download only, in .avi format. You have already seen my semi-stunning Flash abilities the last time, with the 1942: The Pacific Air War game review.

Movie 1 (15 sec, 622KB)
Shows the Fire and Water effects in
a rather interesting way

Ubuntu preview 1

Movie 2 (13 sec, 670KB)
Demonstrates Wobbly windows,
Zoom and Cube

Ubuntu preview 2

After all the praise and glory, I must mention that there are a few tiny glitches that I have encountered: the initial 1650x1050px resolution is too big, in my opinion; the partitioner did get stuck once during the process of installation; this must never happen, especially if the user is installing Ubuntu for the first time ever.

Conclusion

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon has made a quantum leap in the advancement toward friendliness and usability. Old bugs are being solved, old crinkles are being ironed and polished. Each new version gains better hardware support and allows easier integration for new users - Windows users in particular.

Compiz Fusion is a real killer. Who would ever want to buy Vista with Aero when you can have Ubuntu with a whole armada of 3D stuff for free? Oh by the way, did I mention that window borders are transparent and the more inactive the window is the paler it gets?

Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon is probably the easiest and most wholesome package for new and beginner Linux users, but it will also pleasantly surprise the veterans.

To get Ubuntu, head to the official site. To learn what's new in Gutsy, see this nice tour.

That's it from me for now. Cheers!

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