Updated: November 30, 2007
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.
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.
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:
- Install and configure network drivers
- Install and configure sound drivers
- Install and configure graphical drivers
- Install and configure Beryl
- Add Windows and other Linux drives / partitions manually to the fstab
- Install ntfs-3g in order to get write support for NTFS drives
- Install lots of audio and video codecs
- Manually add shortcuts to favorite applications onto the desktop panels
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Shows the Fire and Water effects in
a rather interesting way
Demonstrates Wobbly windows,
Zoom and Cube
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.
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.
That's it from me for now. Cheers!