I dumped Windows for good back in July and have been running Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron on my Dell since then.
I love Open Source, and for the most part, I’ve enjoyed running Ubuntu. I’ve found it to be on par with XP for stability and superior in usability. Before you quibble with the stability comment, there’s a high probability that’s due to user-error, e.g. hosed-up configuration, versus crashes for no apparent reason.
As a mostly casual user, all the hardcore development stuff is pretty well lost on me, but hey, Linux needs users like me to be viable as a desktop alternative, like it or not.
Yesterday, Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex was released. I hadn’t planned migrate, but Rich asked me about it yesterday. So, I figured why not; it hasn’t been too long since I wiped XP so I’m still pretty portable, in case of a major fail.
After a pretty painless upgrade, I’m back up and running on 8.10 now, and it’s like getting a present. So far, I’m glad I upgraded. The first thing I noticed probably isn’t new to Intrepid; all the fancy eye-candy stuff in Compiz now work for me, whereas in Hardy, I couldn’t get the Intel video chip to work on Compiz.
This, in and of itself, is a huge plus. We here at the ‘Lab are huge proponents of UI; it matters. As Rich said over IM, it gives an O/S new life.
So now, I can use all the Mac-style features like, setting the corners of the screen to do Expo (which shows all the Ubuntu desktops, similarly to the way Firefox 3.1 does for tabs), Show Desktop, Pick Windows, etc. Pick Windows actually lets me see all the open windows, not just those in the active desktop.
Plus, I get the cool app switching with the the Power button+Tab, and the Desktop Cube for switching between desktops, for times when Expo just isnt’ cool enough. All very sweet. All these effects do slow the rendering a bit, but I like them for now.
So, what’s new in Intrepid? I immediately noticed the Network Manger got a makeover, and it was much faster at finding my home network, which used to take up to five minutes with Hardy. There’s also a VPN tab now, which doesn’t seem to work, but foreshadows the possibility of a client for VPN. No one has successfully compiled a client for our VPN yet, and having a client would be a nice value add.
Rich asked about Hibernate and Suspend, which I can turn on from Ubuntu Tweak, but isn’t budled with the base install. I don’t use these on any system, so I don’t know if they’re new or not. Enabling them in Ubuntu Tweak adds them to the Power Manger though, which seems new.
One new feature, multiple monitor support that just works, was one thing I really missed in 8.04. In fact, 8.10 does away entirely with X.org configuration file. I had given up and moved my extra monitor to my Mac, which handles dual displays very nicely. I’m tempted to try it out on 8.10 again, just to see.
Another really sweet feature is the ability to create a bootable USB version of Ubuntu to carry with you for use on any PC with a USB port. Think library or other public computers. Apparently, booting isn’t very fast, but the data you change persist, making this little buddy an O/S in your pocket. Very. Freaking. Cool. I can’t wait to have an excuse to try this.
Rather than regurgetate the content, I’ll point you to Lifehacker’s great recap of user-facing changes to Intrepid.
Overall, I like it better than Hardy, even if I end up turning off the eye candy.
Your thoughts? Pondering a jump, or just want to testdrive it? Find the comments.