Ubuntu 9.04 frankenreview

Distros

It's official: Ubuntu has taken over the Linux world. On Digg's Linux/Unix section at the time of writing, four of the top five upcoming stories are about Jaunty (with the other one being a TuxRadar story on programming the Arduino - w00t!). In fact, 11 of the top 15 are about Ubuntu, which is astonishing in a week where Oracle gobbled up OpenOffice.org and MySQL and the first full release of the hotly hyped Ulteo came out.

We've already given you The Road to Jaunty: a look back at Ubuntu's history and an interview with Mark Shuttleworth, and to round out our three-part celebration of Ubuntu's 10th release, Jaunty Jackalope, we wanted to round up some of the web's views on the release then add a few of our own. Read on!

Thanks to the cliquey nature of its friends networks, Digg is hardly a real measure of true popularity. Instead, we need only look at the IT press to see just how interested people are in Ubuntu. Lifehacker, eWeek, The Inquirer, The Register, PC World and more have already published some extensive reviews of the new release, and the verdict has largely been positive:

  • "Put simply, Linux simply doesn't get any better than this right now for ordinary users, and Ubuntu is the only serious choice if you're tired of Windows or OS X" says Lifehacker.
  • "Version 9.04 remains a very good choice for desktop deployments, but in certain circumstances, Jaunty's software enhancements come with some drawbacks." says eWeek.
  • "Ubuntu 9.04 isn't a revolutionary release for desktop users, but it does provide a nice new message system and brings Ubuntu up-to-date with changes in GNOME and the Linux kernel. And at this point in Ubuntu's development, the slow-but-steady advances are exactly what users need - the underlying stability of Ubuntu remains up to par and perhaps even exceeds previous releases" says The Register
  • "The usable qualities of Ubuntu easily surpass anything seen in Vista. Its only real limitations come in the form of software. Most applications written for Windows were not also ported to Ubuntu (or, more generally, Linux). As a result, many of people’s favorite programs will not run natively in Linux" says Geek.com.
  • "This is a solid and fast release, so if you haven't played with Linux yet, you might pull down the torrent and try the live CD. If you don't like it, throw it away, but you probably will like it" says The Inquirer.
  • "This review has been fairly hard for me to write. I want to slowly build my readers up to the conclusion, but I just can’t hold it back: If you use Ubuntu, you NEED this version on your computer, sooner rather than later" says IT News Today.

If there is one recurring theme from these reviews, it's that not much has changed in 9.04. Sure, it has OOo, Gnome 2.26, ext4 support, an all-new CD burner plus the most advanced kernel to date, all while drastically increasing boot speed and lowering memory consumption, but what has Ubuntu ever done for us?

In search of the New Feature adrenaline rush

We've been using Jaunty for some time now and so far are very impressed: it's solid as a rock, substantially faster and even has some new features. When Windows Vista users try out Windows 7 they crow about how wonderfully fast it is compared to Vista, and that's great - we're glad that Microsoft is finally listening to its customers. But Windows users had to wait three years for Windows 7, and still will only get software that many believe should simply be called a Vista service pack.

There's no doubt about it: Ubuntu 9.04 is short on killer features, but so what? With just six months to turn a release around, there's a real limit to how much you can achieve. Heck, the first feature freeze for Ubuntu took place just two months after 8.10 was released, while the final feature freeze was over two months ago. This is the slow and steady, release early and often approach that has served Ubuntu well so far - individual releases often look a bit dry (with the exception of releases that focus on the shiny), but compared to Apple's 18-month development cycle or Microsoft's 3-year cycle suddenly Ubuntu isn't looking so bad.

The inclusion of OpenOffice.org 3.0 in Jaunty is something we should be shouting from the rooftops, but aren't. And the reason for that is because we're spoilt for choice - other distros had OOo three or four months(!) ago, so when Ubuntu includes it world + dog collectively says "meh." Canonical has provided us with the best KDE 4 release so far, and no one seems to be interested because you could compile it from source yourself if you really wanted to. Gnome 2.26 is an awesome release - Brasero is very impressive, yes, but there's incredible new PulseAudio support, DLNA as standard, cross-fading desktop backgrounds and many more small improvements that add up to nothing short of "wow."

The point is this: when something is faster than what you had and more stable than what you had, clearly it's a lot better. But when you factor in that it also includes hundreds of new features in every conceivable part of the desktop, it becomes clear that Ubuntu 9.04 is a truly worthy update to what was already a technically impeccable Linux distribution. If someone tells you it's light on features, that's because they've not made it far beyond Canonical's release announcement - Ubuntu's developers have shown they can stand toe-to-toe with Fedora in the cutting-edge stakes, without compromising their consistently refined user experience.

But is it enough...?

Ubuntu isn't competing against Fedora or OpenSUSE, although it will naturally share some users in the great ebb and flow of Linux distro migrants. Instead, it's important to realise that Ubuntu probably has just one more release before Windows 7 comes out, and that's where the real fight lies. While Karmic Koala has already lost the brand name wars, being up there with Nintendo Wii in the Just Plain Stupid Names awards, will it provide sufficient functionality to tempt Windows users over once and for all?

Let's hope so, but it's important to understand that this fight isn't one that Canonical faces by itself. The Gnome developers are beavering away on GTK3 plans. Qt 4.6 already looks to be mind-bogglingly cool. Firefox 3.5 brings with it TraceMonkey and incredible performance improvements. Yes, even Mono has its part to play in making the whole Linux desktop better. Whether these features make it into Karmic Koala or Karmic+1 (Loony Lemming? Leprous Lycanthrope?) they will move the whole Linux desktop further towards mainstream adoption - and that's something everyone, Ubuntu users or otherwise, can celebrate.

And Windows 7? Bring it on.

Have your say

Ultimately our view and the views of the rest of the IT press are no more important than what other end-users think - some people have been running daily builds of Jaunty since it was announced, some have been pushing it to its limits on the tiniest of netbooks, and others deploy Ubuntu Server on mission-critical servers.

For this to be a true frankenreview, we wanted to give you a flavour of what other users think, so we asked our Twitter followers for their Twitter-sized review of Jaunty - here's what they had to say...

  • notabilia: The disabling by default of Ctrl-Alt-Backspace is characteristic of the trend away from user control
  • techfun: I'll be upgrading a client's machine to it tonight so they can pick it up tomorrow and doing my own over the weekend.
  • martynparker: Been using it since alpha 4 and it rocks! No showstopping issues at all along the way. Running as ext4 as of fresh install today.
  • philwyett: Ubuntu 9.04 is a transitional release that with some good user testing and settling will setup for a great LTS next year.
  • janjamsek: Liked Ubunu since it's conception, although I only use it through VirtualBox. Maybe I will install it a home PC someday...
  • ArrangedEntropy: So far it's awesome. Minor issues with Xserver. It is very fast in comparison to Intrepid, and I'm not referring to boot time.
  • JeffHoogland: Holding off on the update until I get a kernel patch for the Asus G1Sn and better Intel gfx support for my Netbook.
  • LinuxGurl13: I'm going to wait a few weeks before I upgrade. I don't want to wait hours to wait for everything to download and update.
  • kevin_linuxfan: Been running Jaunty since beta on my Dell Mini 9, and I have to say, I love it. One issue: Compiz/AWN shutdown in wrong order.
  • lorddrachenblut: Jaunty seems to boot faster on my acer extensa 4420 and the upgrade from intrepid went smooth.
  • PaddyDempster: Been running it for a couple of weeks now and really liking it. Booting is fast.
  • RichyDelaney: Love the new jaunty, upgraded from 8.10 and a clean upgrade, wonders will never cease :) some slight nvidia bugs with new drivers.
  • davidtab: I'm a Debian user, running 9.04 for a while on netbook. Like 9.04 so much, thinking of switching from Debian.
  • euperia: Very impressed with Jaunty. Halved boot time and feels more responsive.
  • tweetsponge: 9.04 is great other than sound issues. With their constant sound architecture changes it is like X was in the early days. A pain.

Send us a message @tuxradar/Identi.ca or @tuxradar/Twitter with your views on Ubuntu 9.04 and we'll put the best here.

You should follow us on Identi.ca or Twitter


Your comments

The fixes are way too fast!

I've been running it since alpha 5.
Every time I notice a bug and get ready to report it, I check for updates and it's already fixed.

Lecherous Leopard anyone?

The names and artwork allways seem to leave more room for cheap shots than necessary. Still it has character and some disarming vulnerability. The difference between playful and foolish lies for me in three things: Integrity, competence and success. Since Ubuntu delivers what it stands for let us give it the support it needs. (To Debian mostly of course)

Agreed

"Ubuntu's developers have shown they can stand toe-to-toe with Fedora in the cutting-edge stakes, without compromising their consistently refined user experience."

*Precisely.* Ubuntu is picked on because it's the most popular distro, and that's just what jealous people do. When I upgrade my Ubuntu install all I ask for is newer software versions and bugfixes, which Ubuntu delivers every time. Anything else is a bonus.

The simple fact of the matter, for me, is that Ubuntu is filled with great features that other distros posess to some degree, but Ubuntu has them all. As an example, Fedora came close for me - but Ubuntu beats it by being Debian-based and therefore sporting superior package management. I am unashamedly an Ubuntu superfan, even after trying really hard not to be. It's the most popular distro for good reasons.

I won't be upgrading until next week when my monthly bandwidth allowance is reset, however. :D

I am Ubuntu Superfan

There I have said it, I am now not embarrassed and can now hold my head up in company:-)

No but seriously I started using it 7:10 and dabbled with others before that, Mandriva anyone. Nevertheless, I got sick of fighting to get things to work due to Hardware manufacturers not realising that people buying their products want something that works on more than windows.

I have been using 9:04 for a month now and I only have one issue and that is USB WinTV still does not work, yet did in 7:10. Nevermind, Zatto and Iplayer and BBC in Totem more than makes up for that.

Linux Format better have a good in depth review of Jaunty as I personally think it is the best yet and could be a great change in the PC world. As friends are now asking about it...

It's great, definitely worth downloading!

I installed it on my Asus G1S today after downloading last night and everything works fine with the 64-bit desktop version. OK, the Asus OLED just says ASUS but I'll look at that soon ;-)

Very fast and smooth :D

Regards from
Downunder!
.... _
... (0)>
... / /\
.. / / .)
.. V_/_
Linux Powered!

LXF respin??

9.04 rocks! No doubt about it!

So, please... before I actually format my entire HDD and clean windows for good, could you please tell us if you're going to include an awesome respin in the next LXF, worth waiting for? Or should I just go for the vanilla option right away and wipe my disk in the next couple of days? :)

Greetings from Portugal,

Acionyx

Of course you're going to

Of course you're going to get an LXF respin in LXF120 if Mike can manage that as well as a new frontpage and forum and tuxradar and and and.... :roll:

I'm sure has said something about somewhere on the interweb ;-)

Is it on the dvd next issue?

I upgraded last night. Smooth sailing from there on. I cut about 10 seconds of my boot time, and it cleverly asked if I wanted to keep manualy edited system files.

Everything works, and now I am convincing my Girlfriend to try it!

Only thing keeping her from migrating is Itunes... and I am kind of glad, so I can use hers to update my ipod.

But If the revolution ever comes, Ill ditch the pods before you can say "Kinky Koala".

I"m not jealous of Ubuntu.

I"m not jealous of Ubuntu. It is crap and so slow. Kubuntu 9.04 is a joke. It started slowing down after a few days of web browsing. This is the final release. I even rebooted a few times to see if the problem would go away. It did start to speed up again but then again it started to slow down for no reason. I got really annoyed at this because this never happened to me with Fedora. I am sticking with Fedora 11, it runs heck a lot faster. By far I had less problems with fedora than Kubuntu anyday.

Finally works on my laptop

I've been a faithful Ubuntu user for several versions now, and it has always worked a charm on my desktop. My laptop, however, was another story. It always took some serious wrangling to get even a basic install working right. I didn't mind, because doing all that helped me learn more about how Linux works, but I could imagine the process would turn off many. With this release, however, I popped in the CD and it worked straight away. Couldn't have been easier.

A few new hardware problems

Sadly on my computer, the upgrade broke a few things (processor usage got stuck at 100%, until I tracked down and killed 'vino-server'; compiz no longer works on my nvidia card TV out). I tried a fresh install (on a separate HDD), but that didn't have an option to install the nVidia drivers and Firefox died with a 'bus error'.

But apart from those annoyances, it's looking pretty good.

Solid release

I ran the Beta for several weeks and the only bug I ran into (X crashing after installation of Nvidia proprietary driver due to conflict between onboard video and add-in card) was fixed in the final release. I did the 32 bit install first which was rock solid, so I decided to try the 64 bit version for the first time and it too has not had a single issue.

I've been really impressed at how well most of the apps will automatically detect what they need, such as media codecs/plugins, and offer to download and install them. Flash, Xvid, Mpeg2, all installed with a simple click on a dialog box.

The only room left for improvement is the in the themes department as far as I am concerned. The default theme is too bland, and the extra themes that are included are either ugly or have usability issues. I miss the wallpaper of people, too.

In the 15 years that I have been trying various flavors of Linux, Unix, and BSD, this is the very first releases to ever work 100% with all of the hardware in my computer without requiring 3+hours/days of troubleshooting to get things working. Video card, resolution, sound, USB drives, everything worked right off the bat from first boot.

Long Upgrades...

Well, I've been using Ubuntu since the early days, first testing it in '04 and first switching to it in '05. I've learned my lesson from releases past and chose NOT to upgrade immediately this time around to keep from hitting the server jam. I finally started my upgrade on Wednesday night and when I left for work this morning, there were still 15 packages left to download! Here I thought waiting a month would allow me to finish the upgrade in a few hours or overnight at the longest...and it's now been 2.5 days! Definitely looking forward to getting home and trying out the Jackalope!

Hmmm

Im using 9.04 64 bit and the thing that annoys me is my wifi, downloads start off turbo then after 1 minute slow to a crawl

Check what drivers are loaded

I maintain a friends system that got dog slow after upgrading from 8.04 to 9.04 literally last week - to date have:
changed default WM gnome to xfce
added the nvidia driver to /etc/modules
removed update-manager package
.. and its almost useful again.
This is a p3 system and was useful with 8.04, we'll see about 9.04

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