Ubuntu 10.10, code-named Maverick Meerkat, brings a number of software updates and an overhauled user interface for its netbook edition.
Ubuntu 10.10, the latest version of the popular Linux distribution
from Canonical and the Ubuntu community, hit FTP servers Oct. 10, bearing a
slate of open-source software updates along with enhanced tools for locating
and installing those applications.
The new release, also known by the code name Maverick
Meerkat, also sports an overhauled user interface for the distribution's
netbook-optimized edition, and new functionality for Canonical's set of
personal-cloud services, Ubuntu One.
In my tests of Maverick, I've been really impressed by the
enhancements to the distribution's Software
Center tool for finding and
installing applications. The thousands of open-source applications that sit
packaged up and waiting to be installed in the project's networked repositories
have long been a differentiator for Ubuntu, and the improved software tools
that ship with the OS do a great job of showing off this resource.
New Ubuntu releases drop about every six months, with
so-called Long Term Support releases being spaced out every two years. Maverick
follows April's release of "Lucid Lynx," the most recent LTS
version. As one of Ubuntu's faster-moving, shorter-lived releases, Maverick
will best suit desktop users who are willing to upgrade their OS version at
least once a year or so, and who are prepared to debug an issue if they hit
Organizations running or considering running Ubuntu as a
client OS would do best to stick with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS,
although the sharp new interface in Ubuntu's netbook edition might make an
earlier upgrade worthwhile for mobile users.
Ubuntu 10.10 is freely downloadable and comes
in 32-bit and 64-bit desktop editions, as well as a 32-bit netbook edition.
Ubuntu 10.10 is also available 32 and 64-bit server editions-watch for coverage
of the server edition in a future issue.
The download page includes very clear, OS-specific instructions
for creating CD- or USB-based installation
media from a Windows, Mac or Ubuntu machine. Ubuntu installer discs include
bootable OS environments, which are great for testing the system without
modifying your machine's hard drive.
Maverick Meerkat in
Perhaps chief among the advantages that Ubuntu inherited
from the Debian GNU/Linux project is the deep catalog of open-source software
applications that are available for installation on Ubuntu systems (not to
mention the processes and people responsible for maintaining them). I've spent
many hours trawling through that catalog, learning about and trying out the
myriad applications the open-source community has created.
Over the past few Ubuntu releases, the project has focused
on making this catalog more accessible to its users through the Ubuntu
sort of app store, albeit one limited to freely downloadable applications. In Version
10.10, Ubuntu's Software Center
can be used to purchase applications, as well, although at launch time there
was only one app available for purchase: a $25 DVD
player application from Fluendo.
During Maverick's beta period, I tried out the paid application
functionality by buying a $1 test application. The payment process, which
required the same sort of Ubuntu SSO (Single Sign-On) account used for logging
into the Ubuntu One service or for reporting bugs at the project's Launchpad
site, was similar to buying an app through Apple's App Store. I used a credit
card for payment, and the app I'd purchased remained available for
reinstallation when I shifted to a new machine.
As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. Jason's coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.