With only ten days to go until Ubuntu 8.10 is released I decided to take a look at the latest beta to see what the new release has to offer. Oddly enough, "Intrepid Ibex" feels more like a service pack to me than a new release.
Don't get me wrong, there are new features in 8.10:
- Linux kernel 2.6.27
- GNOME 2.24
- Encrypted private directory
- X.Org 7.4 (offering better support for keyboards, mice, and tablets)
- Network Manager 0.7 (improved network management)
- Dell's DKMS (Dynamic Kernel Module Support)
- PAM authentication
- BBC plugin for Totem (grab free shows from the BBC)
- Guest session support
Sure, a nice selection of new features, but there's very little in the way of unifying and streamlining the user interface. I guess we all got a heads-up that the UI was still very much a work in progress last month when Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu), posted the following on his blog:
There’s also recognition for the scale of the challenge that faces us. When I laid out the goal of “delivering a user experience that can compete with Apple in two years” at OSCON, I had many questions afterwards about how on earth we could achieve that. “Everyone scratches their own itch, how can you possibly make the UI consistent?” was a common theme. And it’s true - the free software desktop is often patchy and inconsistent. But I see the lack of consistency as both a weakness (GNOME, OpenOffice and Firefox all have different UI toolkits, and it’s very difficult to make them seamless) and as a strength - people are free to innovate, and the results are world-leading. Our challenge is to get the best of both of those worlds.
Still, bug fixes and the features listed above should keep us happy for another six months until Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" is released.