Taking Ubuntu 9.04 Out For A Spin

Earlier this week, I previewed Kubuntu 9.04, so I thought it would be a logical next step to preview Ubuntu 9.04 as well. When I took a look at the upcoming version of Kubuntu, I found that nothing major had changed (so far) other than the amazing speed improvements and the inclusion of the EXT4 file system as well as KDE 4.2 and all of the improvements it brought to the table. Now, let?s take a look at the upcoming version of Ubuntu, code named ?Jaunty Jackalope? so we can get a taste of what to expect come April.

First off, I must begin with my usual disclaimer that this is NOT a review, but instead a look at Ubuntu and where it?s at in it?s current state. All of the things I noticed while testing it are all likely to change.

I decided to install Jaunty on an older machine, to see how it ran with the speed improvements that are promised in this latest release. The only thing my test machine has going for it is its modest 2GB of RAM. It has a 2.4ghz Athlon 64 single core processor and an 80GB IDE hard drive. Sure, this isn?t the absolute worst machine on the planet, but it?s certainly far from the best.

Usually I don?t talk about the installation process unless there have been some considerable improvements or problems. Unfortuantely, I did have a few problems while installing the latest daily build of Ubuntu. It goes without saying though that these types of problems are expected in alpha quality software, and none of these issues are likely to remain in the final release.

The first oddity that I noticed while installing Jaunty was the new location selection screen. Hopefully it will be changed before the final release, because it was almost impossible for me to determine where my location was on the map. Thankfully, there is a selection box where I could select my region. Check out the screenshot below for a look at what the location selection screen looks like at this point in its development (click on it for a larger view):

After I broke free of that hurdle, I set up the drive to be formatted as EXT4, and I proceeded to install, which failed (click on the image for a larger view):

As you can see, the installation failed due to lack of space available on the disk. Considering the OS was being installed on an 80GB drive with most of it being dedicated to the root partition, the error was clearly wrong. I tried it a second time, and it failed again.

Defeated, I burned a copy of Alpha 5 instead of the daily image that I had, I figured that the error I was experiencing was probably due to a bug in the latest image. With Alpha 5, the installation failed again, with an error indicating that my hard drive is defective. (Which isn?t true). The next time though, the install succeeded. I?m not exactly sure why I was able to install it the second time, because I didn?t do anything different.

After the installation was complete, I was presented with the GDM log in screen, which was sporting a brand new theme. I think the new theme looks awesome, yet some people hate it. I guess it?s impossible to please everyone. (I apologize, I wasn?t able to get a snapshot of it, but Softpedia has a picture of it in their screenshot tour, located here).

After logging in, I was finally brought to the desktop (click on the image for a larger view):

If you?ve used Ubuntu Intrepid, you?ll notice that the wallpaper looks VERY familiar. That?s because it?s the same one. The wallpaper will change some time before Jaunty goes final though, as the default wallpaper is usually added sometime near the end of the development cycle. As far as the GTK theme itself, it seems to be the same one that was used in Intrepid. A new theme would have been nice, but it?s no big deal.

There is also a new notification system, which I think looks very decent:

The best thing I noticed about Ubuntu 9.04 so far is how fast it is. The developers weren?t lying when they talked about speed, this thing is FAST. Even though I installed it on an older machine, you wouldn?t notice it because even with an older processor, Jaunty is probably the most responsive version I?ve ever used.

Just as with Kubuntu, I didn?t notice any other major changes so far. I think this is a good thing, because focusing on making things fast and squashing bugs is a very good focus indeed, and is extremely important to laying the groundwork for the future. With the speed improvements, Kubuntu and Ubuntu 9.04 are easily going to be my highest recommended installs of 2009. Of course, Jaunty is Alpha quality right now, so I recommend that you wait a bit closer to release if you?re planning on checking it out. Even at its current state though, it?s extremely stable and everything seems to work. (Other than the installation problems I had, of course).

2009 already seems to be the best year ever for the Linux desktop. First, KDE 4.2 was released which brought KDE to near feature completion on par with KDE 3.5, then EXT4 was stabilized, and now Ubuntu 9.04 is poised to bring the Linux desktop some amazing speed and stability improvements. Rock on Linux!

Author: Jeremy LaCroix
Source: IT News Today

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