Monday, May 3, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 is Awesome, Enough Said

The latest craze, as almost any social media amateur can tell you, is cloud computing and mobile computing, both giant steps away from the conventional desktop platform we have come to know and love for decades (well, almost one decade for me). However, there are still some companies that are striving to integrate with this new movement as to keep the desktop computer relevant, and Canonical Ltd., the maintaining company of Ubuntu, is doing just that. For those questioning what the hell I'm talking about, Ubuntu is an operating system, just like Microsoft Windows or Apple OSX, except free and open-source. It can be downloaded from the Ubuntu homepage and is really a great operating system that is worth at least a test drive. With the newest Ubuntu version, named Lucid Lynx, a number of developments, primarily built-in social networking and instant messaging and a new non-brown theme, have been implemented in hopes of attracting a new market of users.

Before I get to the social stuff, you must see Ubuntu's new theme. Since Ubuntu was originally launched way back when, their theme has always been a shade of brown. It was not disgusting or anything, but over the years it just got boring and annoying to users. Developers decided to spice things up with this version, and now two brand new themes, Ambiance and Radiance, make the user interface much more interesting. As you can see from the screenshot, it is no Mac (though there are ways to imitate the Apple interface on Ubuntu), but it's still pretty good and looks nice enough for the everyday computer user. But our launching point for this post is in the top right hand corner of the screenshot, where you'll see right next to my username, a little chat bubble...

By clicking on my username, a drop-down menu appears with a single text box and a list of possible statuses. With only about five minutes of configuration, entering anything into that box will post simultaneously to FriendFeed, Twitter,, Facebook, Facebook chat, Google Talk, AIM, and really whatever other chat or broadcast account you want. Now there is one obvious thing missing: what about when you only want to send to a certain group of services. Unfortunately, the capabilities of this built-in text box ends there, but much more can be done simply by opening Gwibber, the program that actually does the broadcasting. Well, you cannot have everything, but this simple social dialog box, built into the operating system itself, is a big step in the right direction for Ubuntu. I hope that we can see many improvements to come as far as this feature is concerned, whether is be compatibility with Google Buzz and, grouping services, retweets, and more.
Tool tip boxes are now sleek and rounded.
So if you've never seen Ubuntu in action, or if you've never tried it out, I recommend just giving it a test-drive. You can try it for free just by downloading a burning a CD (when booting the CD, you can try it for as long as you want before installing). And in case you didn't realize, everything in Ubuntu is free, as in both free beer and free speech. Anyway, in conclusion, it is good to know that some traditional desktop companies are realizing the potential of social on a desktop platform.

1 comment:

  1. While I dont feel that Ubuntu can be counted out of the battle for my computer (triple booting OSX, PC, and BT3 on my laptop), neither do I feel that it has achieved the status of an operating system for a user thats never seen a command prompt or terminal.

    My main beef with Ubuntu is it's large lack of compatability with lots of "standards". Ogg just isn't accepted in this world. MP3 is king and having to download the codec is somewhat strange. The same follows for Adobe Flash. Honestly while this isn't Canoical's fault at all, Flash is horrendous on Linux.

    Also I believe that Canoical should push Ubuntu into a sort of Windows esque route. Most if not all of their users migrated from Windows and its a bit of a learning curve to going from, Oh I can screw up my System32 folder to... OK I'm an admin... Why can't I open this file???
    Especially when these files are crucial to system customization.

    Ubuntu's on track but it could really accelerate itself....