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Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope review

April 13, 2009

On April 23, the Ubuntu 9.04 final version will be released. This means  it’s a good time to review the features and innovations it brings and compare them with those offered by older versions of Ubuntu.

Chapter 1: Installation

A simplified installation wizard on the live cd makes your life easier and your installation experience more pleasant. One of the fer annoying features of the 8.10 distro was the timezone selection screen, which had aweid sensitivity, making it very difficult for me to select the appropriate timezone. The  new timezone selector screen does its job well. In general, the installation goes smoothly and is considerably faster.

I also installed in virtual machine by means of an upgrade and it went very well, with no problems encountered after the install. Speed was what you could imagine in a virtual machine.

Chapter 2: Speed

Booting, in my case, is 15% faster than on the old Ubuntu 8.10 installation (same hardware). Other results find the same improvement (remember that such a boot time decrease is a great achievement for an  operating system): see for yourself in this Youtube HQ video (but keep in mind that the computers are not identical, such were those that I used).

Furthermore, the boot speed can be increased by using the new ext4 filesystem. I advise you not to do it though because using file systems this early in their life cycle could be a recive for disaster (read: data loss) and the benefit is marginal.

Chapter 4: Hardware integration

The drivers for my new system (ASUS P5QL PRO mainboard) worked out of the box. Comparing this with the fact that Ubuntu 8.10 wouldn’t even install and 8.4 installs with great difficulties (alternate CD was the only option) I say it-s a big step forward. Hardware compatibility is definitely improving.

Chapter 5: Visuals

There are two noteworthy changes in this new version of Ubuntu, as far as graphics are converned: new themes and new Gnome Notifications.

The new notifications are visually pleasing, a definite treat. I like to just sit and look at them when they appear. 🙂

The new themes included in the default install are : Dark Room, Dust, Dust Sand and  New Wave. I really do not like the brownish themes that Ubuntu proposes (It’s a good thing that this distro has a visual identity, but I just cannot make my eyes agree with seeing brown that much 🙂 ). This is why, from all these themes, including the default Human theme, I choose to use Dust Sand.

Dust Sand is a Mac OS X inspired theme, using lighter colours than the Dust theme with which it is similar. Because the Dust theme has such dark colours it makes my Firefox bookmark toolbar (which I put on the right side of the main menu). Black background with dark gray text is pretty difficult to see. But then again not to many people put their bookmark toolbar in line tiht the menu, so it might not be a problem for you. I, on the other hand, am stuck using the Sand Dust variety, which is much more visually pleasing than the Human look.

A bad aspect for this theme is the fact that the minimize and maximize buttons do not have illustrations on them, they look identical, which might confuse inexperienced users. I don’t have  a problem with it, however and it is a classic model in Mac OS X.

Dust Sand theme is my them of choice in Ubuntu 9.04

Dust Sand theme is my them of choice in Ubuntu 9.04

In conclusion, a larger variety of default themes means the distro will appeal to a larger userbase. Also, you can easily download more wallpapers to replace the brown ones offered (their quality is not so great after me).

Chapter 6: Conclusion

If we consider the changes discussed above,add the new version offered for all major pacakges from the repository  and on top of that the support offerd for a looong looong time, characteristic for a LTS version of Ubuntu (Ubuntu 7.10 end of life is this year, he he), the upgrade is worth it. You might want to wait until the final version is out though. If you do not want a clean install, an upgrade install will do; just follow this Ubuntu 9.04 upgrade tutorial.

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