Ubuntu Lucid Lynx great as ever, no game changer

I’ve upgraded my laptop to Ubuntu Lucid Lynx, and I’m using it to type this post. Ubuntu Lucid Lynx is a “long term support” edition,  making it suitable for businesses. The upgrade from Karmic, the previous version, went relatively smoothly. I say relatively because my laptop is dual boot and has two hard drives. For some reason Grub, the Ubuntu boot utility, always detects the partitioning incorrectly, so when I first start up after an upgrade it cannot find the drive. I have to hit “e” for edit, correct the reference to the boot partition, and then fix Grub’s menu.lst once I am back in.

That aside, all went well, Compiz didn’t break and I still have wobbly windows – a fun graphic effect that I have only seen on Linux.

I would recommend Ubuntu to anyone, provided that they can cope with occasional forays into menu.lst and the like. I cannot think of everyday tasks which are not easily accomplished on Ubuntu. Performance is excellent, and it feels a little faster than Windows 7 on this oldish Toshiba laptop. Considering the cost, it is a fantastic bargain for both home and business users. No Windows tax, no Apple tax, no Microsoft Office tax.

There are a couple of other issues though that continue to hold it back. One is what I can best describe as lack of polish. Part of the reason is that less money is spent on design; Linux looks less home-made that it once did, but put Ubuntu’s new Music Store (an extension to Rhythmbox) alongside Apple’s iTunes and the difference is obvious. Personally I prefer Rhythmbox, but for looks there is no contest.

Another problem is application availability. Many major Window applications such Microsoft Office can be made to work on Ubuntu via the Wine non-emulator, but it is not ideal. It’s certainly a problem for the work I do. I’m about to spend some time with Adobe’s Creative Suite, for example, which I could not do in Ubuntu.

One thing that will help drive Ubuntu and Linux adoption on the desktop is cloud computing. I have a separate blog post coming on this; but Microsoft’s new Office Web Apps could help considerably in mixed Linux/Windows networks. Specifically, I noticed that a Word Open XML document (.docx) which lost its formatting in Open Office, the suite supplied with Ubuntu, worked fine in Word Web App accessed with Firefox. Cloud and web-based computing goes a long way towards solving the application problem.

I like Ubuntu very much, but I don’t expect it to dent Windows or Mac sales any time soon.

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Ubuntu Lucid Lynx great as ever, no game changer, 6.7 out of 10 based on 11 ratings

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26 comments to Ubuntu Lucid Lynx great as ever, no game changer

  • David

    I respect your review, and the opinions put forth. The review was written, however, from a very M$-centric point of view. Allow me to respond, with all due respect, coming myself from a Windoze background.

    “Lack of polish”- You are correct. Ubuntu is not as ‘pretty’ as win7 or macos. For me, that is precisely the point. The last few versions of win (vista, 7) and mac (leopard, snow leaopard) seem to be less about stability/ functionality/ ground-breaking, and more about ‘how pretty can we make the borders’ or ‘let’s make everything fade in and out like we’re in star trek.’ Ubuntu’s simplicity and straight-forwardness indicate to me that more time was spent on the important things, like hardware compatibility and avoiding system crashes.
    One additional note: pretty eats up processing time. Be good first, pretty second.

    “Application availability”- You’re right… and wrong. Adobe is not available for linux (not just Ubuntu). M$ office is not available for linux, either. This is nothing more than discrimination (or as Bill Gates would call it: “embrace, expand, extinguish), and is easily overcome. A few minutes on google will lead you to viable (and in some cases superior) alternatives to the proprietary and often expen$ive programs you know and tolerate. “I can’t use PhotoShop”; use GIMP.” “I can’t use Word”; use OpenOffice.org. You can even set it to save in the Microsoft formats if you want. “I can’t use outlook”; check out Thunderbird (and add Sunbird for a great calendar program).
    As far as the .docx files, see my note on discrimination above. OpenOffice.org uses an open XML format, just as good as .docx, but it’s free, so of course microsoft had to come out with their own flavor, to break compatibility. But I digress.

    I like Ubuntu, too, and I DO expect it to dent windows and mac’s sales. The more people who use it, the more improvement will be made. Unlike the closed companies, with their assumptions of what the customer needs/ wants, Ubuntu is built/ developed/ maintained by the very ‘customers’ who use it (I say ‘customers’ because when it’s free, we’re not ‘customers’, but users). As proof of Ubuntu denting windoze and mac sales, take myself. I plan on getting my next computer from system76, or zareason, or mtech, or any other company that gives me the option of Linux, or even no operating system at all.

    I used to be windows 100%. I didn’t know better. Linux was out there, but didn’t reach me. Then I switched, and never looked back. Once i switched, I was a hardcore Ubuntu evangelist for a time, but then I realized that it’s a choice for people to make based on preference, and preference alone. My choice is linux.

    Thank you for your review of Lucid Lynx, and I hope my response is well-received in the constructive capacity intended.

    Cheers,
    David

  • tim

    David

    Many thanks for the detailed comments. I agree with most of what you say, though you may have slightly misunderstood my point. For example “OpenOffice.org uses an open XML format, just as good as .docx” may be true, but the business world is hooked deeply into Microsoft Office and we have to deal with that.

    I know there are many contented Ubuntu users, but to date there haven’t been enough to make much impact on Mac or Windows; the arrival of Windows 7 which is better liked than Vista makes it even less likely.

    Tim

  • A standalone install would not have boot problems. It is rare to run into such extreme errors that require hand-editing. This version of Ubuntu improves the Grub bootloader, and hopefully these kinds of problems will occur less frequently, now and in the future.

  • tim

    @Mike I agree and overall I was impressed with how smoothly the upgrade went.

    Tim

  • Richard Fletcher

    Ubuntu has been a decent OS for ages, tim is right when he says people are hooked on windows (and word, and photoshop, etc), but I can’t help but wonder if it will last.

    Adobe might be thinking about this tiff with Apple over Flash and saying to themselves “What we need is a platform we can trust”.

    Well, they don’t have to look far now do they?

    If someone like them took a decision like that you may start to see a shift in momentum. I remember when the shift happened on hardware support, and now nvidia provide linux graphics drivers and intel work on the kernel. So it’s not like there hasn’t been a shift before, and more recently, Android is a linux based OS, so the slide towards linux continues.

    I agree with tim that we wont see any big change in sales soon however.

  • Em there is no menu.lst and there hasnt been for a few releases.

  • tim

    @Shane there is in my installation, I guess because it is an in-place upgrade.

    Tim

  • kikl

    I do think linux and especially ubuntu has a great impact on the industry. Linux is a de facto standard on servers and embedded devices. Android-linux is becoming the number 1 operating system for mobile telephones. We won’t have to wait long until more and more tablets and netbooks are going to be equipped with linux. Microsoft even had to prolong XP support and practically give it away for a few bucks in order to hold on to the netbook market. Now they hope windows 7 will make their day, but it is still a resource hog.

    In the past people complained about the bad usability of linux. Ubuntu, mint and other distributions are just as usable if not better than windows or mac. People used to complain about hardware support. This has come a long way and you can expect linux to work out of the box on most standard laptops or PCs on the market. Now, the only left criticism is lack of proprietary applications, namely MS Office, Adobe Creative Suit, AutoCAD and games to name the most prominent. For the time being, crossover, cedega and wine lets you run these programs decently, although not the latest and greatest versions. But, I know many businesses who still use office 2003. Home user and small business do not need them. Therefore, I believe, ubuntu and the likes are going to gain traction on low cost mobile devices and home user PCs who do not need any of these programs. It offers everything these people need faster, safer and stabler than MS.

    Here is my prediction: Millions of people use ubuntu as their desktop PC and the numbers are increasing fast; just look at distrowatch for confirmation. The next version of the software centre is going to turn it into an app-store, just like the iphone- and android-appstores. More and more software vendors are going to take a close look at this market and decide to support it by using high level programming languages for multiple platforms, such as python and ruby. Cloud computing is going to offer many services across multiple platforms. Last but not least, software vendors like adobe are going to port their software to an open system in order to prevent from being locked out by the likes of apple and microsoft. Adobe is already supporting flash on ubuntu-linux.

  • smilisav

    Since grub2, you don’t need menu.lst.

    new grub, through “sudo update-grub” is doing all, reading only existing images and making menu according to them.

    for other options, read header in /boot/grub/grub.cfg

  • To Mike Chelen and Tim (in particular!):

    Mike, it was a well-known fact BEFORE 10.04 was released that the GRUB bootloader had this problem, but Canonical decided to go ahead and release 10.04 with the problem.
    Go to Ubuntu’s site to check it out.
    Tim: Why don’t you KNOW things as huge as this “day-zero bug” before you write an article like this, and certainly before you pull a cop-out like “…I guess because it is an in-place upgrade.”
    This is not only unprofessional (sounds like a mouth-breather teenager electronics store “associate”‘s response), but downright wrong, and from someone who others look to for good advice.
    To you and your publisher: reporters are not supposed to print WHAT THEY THINK, especially when the FACTS are readily available.

  • kikl

    If he upgraded using synaptic or apt-get, then he is still using the old Grub bootloader. The upgrade doesn’t change the bootloader. He would have to a clean install in order to get GRUB 2 to boot his computer. He won’t profit from the improved bootup times unless he does a fresh install. This also explains why he still has the menu.lst from the old GRUB. Therefore, I believe his problems are not related to the new GRUB bootloader from 10.04.

    10.04 was not released with the bug in the bootloader. The bug was fixed on the release day.

  • To everyone with good intentions, but misinformed, simply check out these references:

    http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODE5Ng

    Ubuntu 10.04 bug # 570765

    Ubuntu wiki

    https://wiki.ubuntu.com/IncidentReports/2010-04-29-Late-Respin-for-bug-570765

    It really doesn’t take much to get the facts.

    I love Ubuntu as much as the rest of you, but facts are facts. I always wait to install the latest and greatest for a couple of weeks because of just such as this.

    Warmest regards…

  • kikl

    Well, tfosorcim, your references state that ubuntu 10.04 was affected by the bug on the release day, but it doesn’t say whether the bug was fixed prior to the release. This is in fact the case. Please read this reference:

    http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-419324.html

  • Lojjik

    One comment – last version was actually karmic koala, not intrepid ibex, not sure if you can directly upgrade or if you have to upgrade in consecutive order

  • Ubuntu states that the bug was not fixed. What more do you want?
    Oh, by the way, I’m certain that Mark Shuttleworth would be interested in hiring an expert who absolutely “knows” what’s going on, particularly one who uses–in order to bolster their intransigent position–such phrases as “Therefore, I believe the problems are not related…”; “The bug was fixed on the release day”; “This is in fact the case”; “This is probably what happened”.
    Quit holding yourself up as an expert, when all it takes to prove you wrong is a scan of Ubuntu’s and Canonical’s sites.
    You are a perfect, and I do mean PERFECT example of who Will Rogers was talking about when he said

    “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble; it’s what you do know that ain’t so.”

    You have wasted enough of my time.
    Since you are going to anyway, believe what you want.
    Just quit playing expert.

  • tim

    @Lojjik

    Thanks – it was on Karmic before, not Intrepid, and I’ve corrected the error.

    Tim

  • Mathias

    Thank you for pointing out that menu.lst is back. I hadn’t noticed and wasn’t able to figure out that thing that was introduced at the beginning of Karmic.

  • Arsen Buscuit

    Just a thought with all the to-ing & fro-ing re the boot loader… what would Windows 7 have done if you’d installed it after Ubuntu? Would Linux even boot afterwards?

  • Vivek

    Hi Tim! Nice reading the above article and yes all of it was true for me till Jan’10. That was when my Win XP stared behaving weird. And I went around looking for the CD to do a reinstall, and I realized I had lost it. Buying a fresh new CD for installing XP …. something which I had already paid for sounded just too much and then there was no one to help too , to repair the existing one. That was when I came across Ubuntu , downloaded, installed and am using it since then. Am a die hard fan of it now.. and believe me there is no looking back to Windows now. It is actually better than windows in almost every way. Well Open Office and MS Office cant be compared . They are two different things.I would also like to point out the fact that people are not using Ubuntu or other Linux distros because they dont know of it. To give you an example , last week me and my friend decided to give back to the community in our own way. We installed Ubuntu 9.10 ( Karmic) in 100 households the last weekend. Yes I have received queries , doubts etc etc from each one of them and life has become hectic but then it is bliss. It is just about time they learn how to use the forums, the IRC etc to resolve their probs. Well just one more thing to add.. My 65 year old parents use their computers in style.. they use the Karmic Koala. :-)……

  • Paula Burns

    “I would recommend Ubuntu to anyone, provided that they can cope with occasional forays into menu.lst and the like.”

    But if the case was the same as with Windows or Mac, where the OS comes already installed and configured…. that wouldn’t be true at all. In fact it’s much less likely a user would have to fiddle about with the innards of an Ubuntu installation.

  • James

    I love Ubuntu on my netbook and am typing this while lucid installs on it (but I still would not use it for my main computer).
    I’ve got to say this statement was perhaps a little bit too kind: “I cannot think of everyday tasks which are not easily accomplished on Ubuntu.”

    Ubuntu networking (at least as of Karmic) is still not nowhere near up to snuff. I cannot browse afp shares located on my mac, and the smb browsing doesn’t work for all purposes either. This would be an everyday task if I could do it. Still, for running having an OS on my netbook so that I can work on word processing documents, read pdfs and browse the internet as I run around town, Ubuntu rules, and I plan to stick with it on my netbook in hopes that the missing features will get filled in eventually.

  • yehoshua

    i am pretty much neutral in this economic war between the major OS’s and i really like ubuntu, i also use windows but unfortunately i never had a chance to try out mac (PLEASE I NEED TO KNOW HOW TO PUT IT ON VIRTUALBOX) yes ubuntu is not the prettiest but luckily it is very customizable and only 3 days after having my karmic koala, i have it looking so much like a mac you will think it IS one. (oh yes and i would like to know if upgrading to lucid lynx erases everything) windows is good but unfortunately i see dark clouds on window’s horizon seeing how well mac and linux is doing. if ubuntu costed some money, we would have a company richer than Microsoft.

  • bill

    I moved to Ubuntu 3 years ago after finding a trojan on XP. I need the peace of mind that linux gives me. Over 90% of the worlds supercocmputers run on Linux for a reason.

    In lucid I am opening and closing .docx with no problem and I use openoffice to run a law practice without any issues. I also keep xp alive in a virtualbox and if there is ever a program that requires windows it so easy to fire up the virtual machine it’s just like running another app especially in seamless mode….but..but ..but my main point: I have a house full of teenagers on my home network all running Ubuntu I would never let them near the internet on a windows machine we would have had a compromise by now and I can’t afford that. Many of their friends have viruses judging my the spam we receive and their complaints about slow machines. Safety first for me ubuntu with XP available in a VM.

  • Charlie

    Thanks for the article. But, Ubuntu (10.04 and now running 10.10) is a game changer. Period. I’ve used Windows since there were PC’s. The death of Windows came quickly three weeks ago. I added a second hard drive to a Dell GX270 to accommodate some video editing I needed to do. I noticed the XP O/S was running FAT32, not NTFS. There was documentation on the Microsoft website that said one can easily convert from FAT by running a command. DON’T BELIEVE IT. The scrambled registry resulted in a total lock out or no access to drives or ports once in were my choices. Ubuntu!!! End of Windows. I’ll never spend another dime on a Microsoft product. EOF!

  • Clyde Davies

    My sister in law was bequeathed an aging laptop from a work friend who couldn’t get rid of it for love or money. She asked me if I could do something with it to allow the kids to use it at home. Not wanting to incur the cost of a Windows license I stuck Ubuntu on it. The kids love it and she has no problems with any viruses or malware.

    I think Ubuntu is fantastic, even though I’m a Microsoft diehard. It’s ready for the mass market, whatever some may claim.