Yesterday I downloaded a copy of Ubuntu's latest release, version 7.04 Feisty Fawn. The download took some hours because of busy servers but I think that it was well worth it.
Go Ubuntu!If you're not a Linux or Ubuntu user, I've compiled a gallery here of images I collected while running Ubuntu from the Live CD, the installation process and the running of the OS after installation. Check it out!
I don't want to overhype anything but I can say with all honesty that Ubuntu 7.04 is by far the best and easiest version of Linux that I've used. The Live CD worked flawlessly for me and allowed me to road-test features without the hassle of installation. The installation was also a snap and the step-by-step wizard is really easy to follow - as easy, if not easier, than a Windows installation.
I can't say that the Ubuntu installation process is a fast one, it isn't, and felt a lot slower than installing Windows Vista, but the end result was an OS that worked, was snappy and has loads of apps pre-installed. Nice. Very nice!
Just as I was writing this I came across an Ubuntu post by Preston Gralla entitled "Why Linux Will Never Take Over the Desktop". In this post Preston makes a point that's quite valid:
But ultimately, it’s an operating system that only a devoted, hard-core computer aficionado could love. Here’s just one example. As soon as I installed it, I received a notification that updates were available. I clicked the notification, and was told that 129 updates were available. Here’s a small representative sample of what was available:
version of ‘host’ bundled with BIND 9.x
simple interprocess messaging system (utilities)
package maintenance system for Debian
Pixbuf-based theme for GTK+ 2.x
I could keep going on, but you get the idea. Microsoft messages and updates are difficult enough to decipher for the average PC user. But this? Forget it. People simply won’t have a clue.
Preston must be talking about an older version here because I only had two updates for 7.04 earlier, but he makes a very good point. Ubuntu is nice, it's solid, it's fast and it's robust (so far anyway), but it's also way too geeky in spots. Don't get me wrong, overall Ubuntu is nice, friendly and convivial. But there are dark corners that absolutely reek of Linux geekdom cliquiness that average users aren't going to feel at home in (I don't feel at home there). Ubuntu updates are one such area where you need a high level of know-how to understand what's going on.
What the Ubuntu dev team need to do is find, I don't know, 100 people who aren't Linux geeks and stick them in front of the OS. Use these people to get feedback on different aspects of the OS. As soon as users start to look confused, scared or go bug-eyed then something needs tweaking. If your average home user is going to look at Ubuntu as an alternative to Windows or Mac, all these geeky corners have to be smoothed out.
That said, Ubuntu represents a huge step in the right direction for Linux and offers PC owners a simple (and safe) way to experiment with Linux.
Check out my first thoughts on Kubuntu 7.04 here.