The first question I hear Linux newbies ask is what is the best distribution to use? I think right now plenty of linux desktop options exist for newbies however a few things set Ubuntu ahead of the pack in my opinion.
Although exact figures are nearly impossible to gather, Ubuntu has been estimated to have over 10 million users and is by far the most popular Linux distribution. This makes getting help easier because places like the UbuntuForums and IRC-client are full of people that can answer any question a newbie throws at them. In addition to free support an increasing number of Ubuntu book, training CD, and training course options can be seen everywhere.
Ubuntu has a great team of people on board that have sacrificed a lot to get it to where it is now. Ubuntu has been built in an organized manner with a planned release every six months. Scheduled releases bring routine enhancements and new features to the operating system. In most cases I’ve found Ubuntu versions can be upgraded from within without any re-installation.
What other distribution do you know that has been developed in multiple flavors the way Ubuntu has? Having Kubuntu, as good as it is, around is excellent as many people use Kubuntu that would never use Ubuntu. Having Xubuntu and Ubuntu Studio release at the same time and all carry their own distinct assets just increases the user base of Ubuntu that much more.
I’ve listed only a few of the advantages to using Ubuntu. What are your personal reasons for using Ubuntu over the next guy?
Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala now includes an installer slideshow. I’ve always liked the idea of rotating slides of information about the OS while it’s installing to give the users something to do. No matter what you put on the slides this is going to be more entertaining for users than staring at the progress bar. While installing Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 5 you may have noticed a similar feature has been added to Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. After entering information into the installer and clicking the Install button, users will see a slideshow of highlights, tips, and featured applications one after another. The one thing that sets that Ubuntu installer slideshow apart from others I’ve seen is it only plays through once. I found this to be a nice touch and I also anticipate many more slides by the final release.
Here’s a look at some of the slides I captured while installing Ubuntu 9.10.
What do you think? Is The Ubuntu installer slideshow useful for new users so they know what to expect or just a waste of time and space?
The Ubuntu-based netbook distro Easy Peasy was formely known as Ubuntu Eee. Easy Peasy uses the Ubuntu Netbook Remix graphical user interface and provides a mix of popular open-source and proprietary software. If you’re trying to stay away from proprietary software completely (not a bad idea) this ones not for you. I found it interesting that so many have commented on Easy Peasy working out of the box. Along with my questions about compatibility I was curious about the features, new appearance and day-to-day usefulness of Easy Peasy 1.5. Could the Ubuntu-based Easy Peasy be anything more than a toy?
Easy Peasy is easy to install onto a USB pen drive and now with Easy Peasy 1.5 you can install it to USB even easier. Easy Peasy 1.5 comes with a hybrid image offering .img and .iso at the same time making the process of moving your image to the USB stick with UNetBootin pretty easy. Of course you can also install Easy Peasy to the hard drive which is what I did hoping it would be my permanent OS.
After installing Easy Peasy i was pleasantly surprised by the login screen. It included shades of green and dark grey, a good mixture. I found it appealing, clear and easy to follow.
The desktop was equally stunning but I was less surprised as I had seen this running the live version. The desktop consists of a top bar, two outside columns that server as menus and a wider center column that displays results based on what is selected. The desktop is more of a graphical interface with a unique style that few other distros can be compared to as you can see in the screenshot below.
The menu includes common categories as seen on Ubuntu but includes a few applications you won’t find on Ubuntu. Applications that I found useful were Skype, Banshee, OpenOffice 3.1, Picasa, Evolution, Firefox, and Pidgin.
After adjusting my microphone settings I tested Skype and it worked first try. The interface is a little different if you’re a Windows user switching over but all the options appear to be there and it took me very little time to find everything.
I also tested Flash content at Youtube, MP3s with Banshee, and photos with Picasa, all of which came turned out excellent. I didn’t see applications that I use on Ubuntu like GIMP and a few others however these can be added immediately by going to Administration — Synaptic Package Manager.
I had a very good experience using Easy Peasy and I plan on making it into something I use everyday. I hope you enjoy the screenshots and be sure to look at our Linux PDFs and manuals.
- Bug fixes
- Software update
- UXA by default
- New green visual appearance
- Linux kernel (2.6.30) optimized for netbooks with faster startup
- More supported netbooks
- Hybrid image file .iso/.img
- Smaller harddrive footprint
- ext4 filesystem as default
As Ubuntu popularity grows, more and more students are recognizing the added features and potential savings offered by an Ubuntu laptop. We’ve decided to recongnize an Ubuntu laptop we feel is a sure thing for students of any age or price range. Netbooks and laptops are the students solution to computing because of obvious portability reasons. One thing many students find frustrating is the higher cost of laptops and netbooks compared to desktops with similar specs. The biggest reason that Ubuntu laptops can save you money over Windows laptops is that companies like Dell are able to lower the price of Ubuntu-installed laptops because they don’t have to pay for the operating system. Ubuntu can be added to almost any computer by creating and booting to an installation disk however for compatibility reasons buying pre-installed Ubuntu laptop may be the best choice for newbies.
This laptop comes with Ubuntu 8.10 but any users have reported a successful upgrade to Ubuntu 9.04 using the upgrade option within the operating system or by using a Ubuntu 9.04 installation disc. The Inspiron 15n features an Intel Pentium Dual Core T4200 2.0 GHZ processor and 3 GB of RAM. Users can burn CDs and DVDs on an 8x dual layer DVD+/-R drive and this laptop features the popular 15.6″ glossy, wide-screen display. The Inspiron 15n also comes with 802.11g wireless and is available in several cool colors for around $40 extra. Selecting brightness upgrade when purchasing a Dell laptop may be a smart move. Many laptop users feel that $25 for a brighter, more vidid screen is worth the money. If you enjoy using compiz fusion and subtle gaming, the Intel X4500HD graphics card included in the Inspiron 15n is a great choice and the only option with this laptop. Users report seeing little or no system slow down on the Compiz medium setting but this video card may not be ideal for any sort of in-depth gaming. All in all this laptop received great reviews from the Ubuntu community without any major problems to report. One thing that helps is Dell does include licensed codecs for mpeg formats, including mp3, and avi formats. This means no installing Ubuntu restricted extras, everything should work out of the box. The Dell Inspiron 15n is available for $514 plus shipping.
Things you might add:
Intel Core 2 Duo T640(Faster): $50
WLED(Brighter Screen): $25
9-Cell Battery: $75
4 GB RAM: $25
320 GB Hard Drive(More Space): $50
1.3 Megapixel Webcam: $25
Colors: (pacific blue, ice blue, promise pink, cherry red, alpine white, jade green): $40
BeginLinux Ubuntu Training Videos: $20
If you’re on a lighter budget Dell is also still offering the Inspiron Mini 10v. This smaller laptop comes with Ubuntu 8.04 pre-installed and features a 10.1″ screen, an Intel Atom 1.6 processor, 1GB of RAM, and the 1.3 megapixel webcam all for $299 on Dell. The laptop keyboard is 92% the size of a traditional laptop keyboard according to Dell, which makes it feel less like a toy and more like a tool. This is, in my opinion one improvement over many smaller netbooks that require a learning curve to use because of the smaller keyboard size.
If you’re truly interested in using the Ubuntu operating system I highly recommend a pre-installed option over installing on an existing computer. Besides the obvious points of compatibility, quality, and cost, i have one more. Buying Ubuntu installed computers is the only way to create more Ubuntu installed laptop and netbook options in the mainstream marketplace.
Visit the Dell Ubuntu products page.
Everyone knows that the Ubuntu operating system is free to download; not everyone is aware, however, that the operating system has a host of applications and utilities that you can also get for free. Here is some of the most popular Ubuntu download software you can find online.
The GNOME Do is an application launcher that allows users to quickly search for items on their desktop or online and perform useful tasks on them. The latest version of the software, version 0.8.2, also includes an intuitive new desktop dock called Docky. It can be downloaded from the Do homepage, http://www.do.davebsd.com.
VirtualBox is a virtualization program which is loaded on an existing OS, then allows you to load and run additional operating systems, each within its own virtual environment. It can be downloaded from VirtualBox.org.
If you’re looking for an open source music manager, Songbird is a good Ubuntu download application. Songbird allows you to manage your IPod, download album art, play streaming audio on its browser and has a whole host of useful add-ons such as LyricMaster, which displays lyrics from your favorite tracks. You can get it from http://www.getsongbird.com.
HandBrake is an open source video transcoder that allows you to convert any mpeg video (including DVDs) into an mpeg-4 video file that can be played on virtually any device. The latest version, HandBrake 0.9.3 can be downloaded from http://www.handbrake.fr. The software is cross-platform and is also available for Windows and Mac OS.
If you’re unhappy with the way your Ubuntu desktop looks, then Ubuntu Tweak is an essential Ubuntu download application. Tweak allows users to change hidden system and desktop settings but can be used only with the Gnome desktop environment. It also makes the task of installing third-party upgrades such as the latest Firefox beta easier. Get it from http://www.ubuntu-tweak.com.
Conky is a software system monitor that allows the user to monitor the status of many system variables including the CPU, memory, swap space and network interfaces and displays the information on their desktop. It is available from http://www.conky.sourceforge.net.
Aside from applications, there are many essential Ubuntu download e-books in pdf format that you can get for free that will allow you to get the most out of your Ubuntu OS. These include The Official Ubuntu Book, the Linux Bible 2007 edition, Beginning Ubuntu Linux and Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks. These resources and others can be downloaded at the FreeBookLinks.com site.
If you are interested in Flash training movies or printed manuals for Ubuntu check this out.
And of course, what would an OS be without some games to kill time with? Some popular games include America’s Army 2.5 (multiplayer shooter game), Babylon Project (space combat simulator) and Flightgear (flight simulator). Try http://www.ubuntuforums.org for links to these games.
Of course, the ultimate Ubuntu download is the latest release of the Ubuntu OS, version 9.10 which is codenamed the Karmic Koala. Although the OS is not due to be formally released until the end of October, you can already download the Alpha 4 version of the software for testing and de-bugging by the online community. The OS features new versions of the Linux kernel and the Gnome desktop environment. The default instant messaging client has also been changed from Pidgin to Empathy and Firefox 3.5 is the new default web browser. Also added is the Palimpsest Desk Utility application, a testing and monitoring tool which shows you the uptime and temperature of the driver as well as being a partition management tool.
The Ubuntu 9.04 – An Alternative to Commercially-Available Operating Systems
The latest release of the Ubuntu OS is nicknamed Jaunty Jackalope, and the free software lives up to the playful qualities of its imaginary namesake. A Jackalope is a folkloric animal that is supposed to be a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope; it has been portrayed as a rabbit with antlers. Like a rabbit, Ubuntu 9.04 runs faster, offering boot speeds as short as 25 seconds and faster access on the majority of laptop, desktop and netbook computers. Other notable features of the new release include improved suspend-and-resume features so that you can immediately access your computer after putting it in sleep mode and broadening the switching between Wi-Fi and 3G, which supports more wireless devices and 3G cards.
The new release also comes bundled with OpenOffice 3.0, which provides users with word processing, spreadsheet and presentations applications that are compatible with Microsoft Office. Another notable application included with Ubuntu 9.04 is the Evolution 2.26.1 e-mail client, which integrates mail, address book and calendaring functions. The new version of Evolution now allows Windows users to directly import Microsoft Outlook files to Evolution, letting you transfer e-mail and contacts to the new application. The new Linux kernel 2.6.28-11.37 also speeds up the performance of your storage drives through better disk performance, improved solid-state drive support and enhanced virtual memory scalability.
The Ubuntu 9.04 desktop edition is noteworthy for its inclusion of technologies to make computing more accessible to handicapped users. For the blind, Ubuntu includes Orca technologies to help them use many of its applications. Orca uses a combination of Braille, magnification and speech software to enable sight-impaired users to use the Ubuntu interface and access the Firefox e-mail client, OpenOffice and other applications. The OS also offers slow-key support, which allows the keyboard to be used as a mouse, making this an essential tool for the physically-challenged. The Ubuntu OS can also support a touch-screen keyboard used with pointers.
Will the Ubuntu 9.04 OS entice users away from well-entrenched operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS X? The outlook is promising with the inclusion of the Eucalyptus technology in the Server Edition of the OS. Eucalyptus – which stands for Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs to Useful Systems – is open source, cloud computing technology which allows users to set up storage and create virtual machines online through Amazon’s Web Services. The Ubuntu OS can also run well with as little as 384 MB of allocated base memory. And, of course, the price – free – is unbeatable.
If you want to try it, the Ubuntu 9.04 OS is easy to find and install. You can download it online from the Ubuntu website or a host of torrent sites. If you’re already using Ubuntu 8.04 you can get an automatic upgrade to the newer edition through the Upgrade Manager tool. You can also get a host of applications for the OS free for download. In short, there is no reason for you not to install the Ubuntu OS on your computer and sample the many features it can offer.
The last few Ubuntu Linux released featured background and artwork that depicted the versions codename. For example when Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron was released we enjoyed the abstract bird-like background and then Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex brought us the Ibex background which wasn’t too bad. As Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope Alpha version rolled out users enjoyed new login screen, themes and the new boot splash theme. I was sure we’d be commenting about a new Jackalope background any day now. Now as I preview the release of Ubuntu 9.04 Beta codenamed Jaunty Jackalope, I see no Jackalope background. Instead it looks like Ubuntu has added a stylish background that favors the same theme colors as previous versions but gives off a professional vibe. I’m both excited for the new look but disappointed in the lack of a Jackalope background.
In case you prefer the lighter more “Ubuntu-like” look, Ubuntu 9.04 has also included this lighter version in the Ubuntu 9.04 beta release. The second abckground looks a little more like the traditional Ubuntu background.
Here are a few places that you can find interesting Ubuntu artwork. If you know of a few places feel free to comment and i’ll add them to this article.
Here’s a look at the two new backgrounds included in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope.