Ubuntu 12.04 arrives and it's great

Ubuntu 12.04 arrives and it's great

Summary: Canonical's latest Linux distribution, Ubuntu 12.04, is now available for your home and office and it's a winner.


It's morning for the latest Ubuntu Linux desktop release.

It's morning for the latest Ubuntu desktop Linux release.

The wait is over. The final version of Canonical's Ubuntu 12.04, Precise Pangolin is out. To download your copy of this popular Linux distribution head to the Ubuntu download page. If you're already using the last version, Ubuntu 11.10 you can now upgrade automatically upgrade to 12.04 with Update Manager. If you need more help with your upgrade see the Upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04 LTS page.

LTS, you ask? That stands for long term support. This is the Ubuntu version that will be supported for five years, through April 2017. If you have a business, and you've been thinking about using Ubuntu on your desktops or servers, this is the version you want.

However, before leaping to the Ubuntu site to download the freshest bytes and bits, you may want to wait for a bit. Canonical tells me that the site is currently getting overwhelmed and some people are not being able to get into it. For me, the site and download links worked, but at speeds of about 100Kbps, they certainly aren't fast.

If you really can't stand to wait for a minute, take Jorge Castro, a Canonical staffer's suggestion, and use one of "mirrors hosted on Amazon's S3 service, which has a bunch of capacity and should be fast for users where an Amazon region is close:"

You should use whichever region is closest to you, you can either manually add these to


file or paste them into the custom URL field of the software sources application.

East Coast US: deb http://us-east-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

West Coast US (California): deb http://us-west-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

West Coast US (Oregon) deb http://us-west-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

South America (São Paulo, Brazil) deb http://sa-east-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

Western Europe (Dublin, Ireland) deb http://eu-west-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

SouthEast Asia (Singapore) deb http://ap-southeast-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

NorthEast Asia (Tokyo) deb http://ap-northeast-1.ec2.archive.ubuntu.com.s3.amazonaws.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted universe multiverse

I've been using Ubuntu 12.04 in beta for two months now. I've found it to be an excellent, stable, and extremely end-user friendly desktop operating system. Note, I didn't say a really welcoming Linux desktop, I said an end-user friendly desktop operating system. I was able to get my Spanish-speaking mother-in-law on Ubuntu Linux and she was able to just use it without any fuss or muss.

A big reason why was because Ubuntu's Unity desktop is so darn easy to new-comers to you. She literally never had a single question in three weeks of using as her only computer. True, she wasn't asking it to do much-Web browsing, watching video, doing e-mail, writing documents-but is that all most people ask of their computers most days?

A first look at Ubuntu Linux 12.04's Unity desktop (Gallery)

Yes, I know some of you really don't like Ubuntu's Unity desktop with its dash of Head Up Display (HUD). This latest update of Unity is based on GNOME 3.4.1, but the disagreeable GNOME default interface is hidden away.

I know some of you still want a more traditional GNOME 2.x style desktop. I get that. It's why my primary Linux desktop is Mint 12 with its Cinnamon GNOME 2 retake.

A walk through Mint Linux's new/old Cinnamon desktop (Gallery)

That said, if you haven't tried Unity for a while, give it a try. Yes, it is different, and yes it is easy--it's hard to feel like a cutting edge operating system guru when you know a semi-computer illiterate 80-year old can work the basics as well as you can--but if you put that "It's different and I don't like it!" mindset aside you may just be pleasantly surprised.

However you should also know that Unity/HUD is a "What you see is what you get" desktops. For example, the Unity launchbar, short of major tweaking beyond what most casual users can do, is permanently glued to the left of the screen. I was also somewhat puzzled by Ubuntu's new default black display. It's easy enough to put up a wallpaper--just right click on it and pick Change Desktop Background--but matte black by default? Really?

Technically speaking, the new Ubuntu is based, as always, on Debian Linux. For its Linux kernel, 12.04 uses the 3.2 Linux kernel. It also supports the full range of Linux file systems including Btfrs (aka Butter), ext3, ext4, JFS, ReiserFS, and XFS. By default, it uses ext4.

You can run Ubuntu on as little as 512MBs of RAM and with a 486 processor. Faster is better, but for practical purpose any recent system with one GB of RAM will work just fine with Ubuntu.

I have it running on a wide variety of systems and I haven't seen a single glitch on any of them. Let me add to that despite the cries of some Linux haters, I also didn't find any peripherals it wouldn't work either either. Wi-Fi cards, multi-function printers, scanners, all worked just fine with this release.

If you happen to have a system with an Intel Sandy Bridge chipset, you'll also see much better power management. Starting with this version, Ubuntu can turn the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) all the way down to zero watts if it's not being used. Canonical claims that "comparing under idle loads with machine state where RC6 is disabled, improved power usage of around 40-60% has been witnessed." I didn't see that much difference, but I did notice that my battery life on my new Lenovo ThinkPad, which uses the latest Sandy Bridge chipset, idled for much longer than I'd expected.

There have also been some desktop software changes. The default music player has is now Rhythmbox, instead of Banshee. I'm still a Banshee fan, but no worries, with the Ubuntu Software Center, Ubuntu's take on an app store, it was easy for me to bring it back.

The office suite is still LibreOffice, but it's been updated to 3.5.2. That's a pure win in my book since I think LibreOffice is the best office suite around on any platform these days.

Unfortunately, LibreOffice still isn't completely integrated with Unity. It still uses its own menu interface instead of Unity's universal menu. This doesn't get in the way of using the program at all, but by now I'd expected them to have integrated it into the interface the way they have Firefox.

Firefox remains Ubuntu's default Web browser. I could have lived without that but you can always download Chrome or get its pure open-source brother Chromium from the Ubuntu Software Center.

Another program, which hasn't been changed out, is Thunderbird for e-mail. I just don't get this. Evolution is simply the best e-mail client on any operating system and it's already a GNOME-based program so adding it to Ubuntu is trivial. Oh well, the Software Center once more came to my rescue.

There are some nice little extras. For example the video lens, a Head Up Display view for searching for videos, makes it easy to search for videos no matter whether they're on your local PC, your media server, or on YouTube.

When all is said and done, Ubuntu 12.04 is an outstanding Linux desktop distribution. I'm still going to stick with Mint myself for day-in and day-out work, but if I were going to start a new user on Linux, who wasn't interested in the technology, and just wanted a fast, easy-to-use, and secure desktop, I'd give them the new Ubuntu in a New York minute.

Related Stories:

Say hello to Canonical's new Linux desktop: Ubuntu 12.04 beta review

If my mother-in-law can use Ubuntu Linux, anyone can

20-million new Ubuntu Linux PCs in 2012?

Next Ubuntu Q to bring font, icon, Quantum OpenStack service to Linux

Red Hat and SUSE join IBM in new Linux system, Canonical opts out

Topics: Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • I will agree. Hat tip to Canonical.

    I've had a change of heart about Ubuntu:

    DTS, Your Linux Advocate
    • http://gentleurl.net/incomesolution

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      • Wow, something more pugnacious than the Linux Security Module diatribes

        Spam, get ye hence.
        Your Non Advocate
  • Upgrading wallpaper bug

    The default wallpaper is purple on the left, orange of the right. I'm guessing you've been hit by bug http://pad.lv/863509 .

    One solution is to install ubuntu-wallpapers-oneiric (or whatever release you were previously using).
    • Well, Maybe One

      "I have it running on a wide variety of systems and I haven???t seen a single glitch on any of them." Well, ok, maybe one. ;-) This is why I never upgrade ANY OS; a clean install is worth the small extra effort IMHO. Note that Linux makes this trivial - just put /home on a different partition, and even your settings are preserved between installs (no "registry", don'tcha know).

      That said, I installed on release day and 12.04 is noticeably faster and smoother than 11.10. I switched to Mint during the first Unity-based release, but Unity has matured nicely and I'm happy to have switched back.
    • Upgrading wallpaper bug

      jbicha you are absolutely right. About the Ubuntu 12.04 i think is ok.

  • Global menu for LibreOffice does exist but somewhat buggy

    Steve - you can have a global menu for LibreOffice by installing "lo-menubar" from the Software Center, Synaptic (which I prefer) or "sudo apt-get --yes install lo-menubar" from a terminal. It works pretty well but it did stop working once - I suspect that is why they haven't installed it by default (yet) - undoubtedly it will be added as a dependency to the LibreOffice packages and thus installed by later updates.
  • Except for Unity

    Which sucks and blows at the same time. Just replace with the alternative interface and an app launcher and all is well.
  • 486 with 512Mb?????

    When could you ever buy a 486 system that supported 512Mb of memory?? You just pulled that out of a hat. You could run Windows on a 486 with 512Mb it would be dog slow. And so would Linux on a 486 100Mhz. And I expect it would feel slow on a 1Ghz PIII pentium with 512.
    • Actually

      the 486 with 512MB sits in my server room collecting dust except to see just how an operating system can go and still be usable. In some places, people still use horribly out of date PCs.
      • RE: Actually

        [i]In some places, people still use horribly out of date PCs.[/i]

        Thus, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and distros like Puppy Linux. And as more of the middle-class in the U.S. and Europe slip into poverty, these 'places', sadly, will grow.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Appologies. I wasn't thinking a server

        Desktop PCs with 486s didn't have anywhere near that capacity. I am thinking 64 MB. I had a PIII that was limited to 512Mb.
      • RE: Actually

        When I bought my 66 mHz 486, the 60Mhz Pentium had just come out. My 486 had 8MB of Ram, which was a pretty big deal then. Most desktops had 4MB, as RAM was $200 for 4MB. I don't think many 486s supported more than 16 MB of RAM. My 486 had a 540 MB hard drive. Maybe you're remembering of the hard drive size?? It's been almost 20 years.
  • Ubuntu 12.04 on Hyper-V

    I haven't tried the final version yet, but the recent daily builds worked well on Hyper-V with no tweaks needed. The only limitations I experienced were the limitations of Hyper-V itself. The lack of widescreen support and audio over Hyper-V makes it a poor choice for a running desktop client OS, but if all you need are server related services it should work well. Once Microsoft tackles the video and audio issues, we may finally have a feasible way to run both Windows and Linux on the same desktop computer at the same time while still being able to have full capabilities of both.
    Michael Kelly
    • I can't think of a good reason to run Ubuntu on Hyper-V

      On the other hand, Windows as a guest OS on KVM, a Type 1 hypervisor, is quite good.
      And audio, peripheral support for guest Windows instances is fully supported with SPICE, including a Firefox plugin, spice-xpi (using iGEL Thin Clients, for example).
      This is part and parcel with why RedHat are doing well with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV 3.0).
      DTS, Your Linux Advocate
      • Color me shocked

        "I can't think of a good reason to run Ubuntu on Hyper-V."

        Maybe, just maybe, some shops run Hyper-V?

        And Hyper-V on my desktop - it's a feature in Windows 8 Pro. To preempt you your question, because I develop software and *want* to support Linux, but Windows users are my biggest market?
        • While you're at it, color yourself 'ignorant'.

          Do the math on what it costs to run a Hyper-V shop vs. KVM.

          KVM, particularly, RHEV beats the competition hands down. Your users still see and use Windows--it's just running on Linux--they don't know or care. Pure genius.

          Check out the TCO/ROI calculator on Red Hat and you'll see what I mean.

          The Open Virtualization Alliance was formed for good reason. Business is good.
          DTS, Your Linux Advocate
      • @DTS

        While you're at it, color yourself ignorant [b]*and[/b] disingenuous.

        If you're primarily a Microsoft shop, buying RHEL's virtualization infrastructure is a significant additional cost vs. licensing Windows Server Datacenter Edition which allows one to install and run as many Windows Server VM's as one wants/can fit on the box at no additional server licensing cost.

        RHEL's "starter" kit costs $4500 per year for 3 servers. For a 3-year lifespan, that'll cost $13,500 [b]PLUS the costs of all the Windows Server licenses you need[/b].

        Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition is $4000 per server. For 3 servers, that's $12,000 ??? and you don't have to buy any additional server licenses for all the servers hosted on that infrastructure.

        In FACT, you're unlikely to pay that $4000 license because most businesses with any sense will engage in a volume licensing agreement wherein they can spread payments across several years and also enjoy sizeable discounts.

        If you're primarily a non-MS shop and you want/need to host a couple of Windows Servers, then RHEL's solutions makes sense. If, however, you're primarily a Windows shop, then Windows Server Datacenter and Hyper-V is a hands-down no brainer.
      • The problem with KVM

        is that a Windows client would be severely hampered by a lack of ability to use Direct3D acceleration, which is the biggest reason why I'd want a Windows desktop in the first place.

        Hyper-V is far from complete, I do realize that. But I will experiment with any solution that gives me what I ultimately want, and I ultimately want to run the Windows programs I like and the Linux programs I like on the same computer at the same time. I am not as concerned with the underlying OS and which one is host or client, because both are very good and I use a computer to run applications, not an operating system.
        Michael Kelly
      • RE: I can't think of a good reason to run Ubuntu on Hyper-V

        It would appear that Canonical takes a different view towards Microsoft's Hyper-V than do you:

        "Ubuntu 12.04 LTS strikes Hyper-V first with Microsoft

        They actually worked with Microsoft to ensure that Ubuntu 12.04 runs on Hyper-V. Then again, Canonical, as a business, cannot afford to get sidetracked by zealotry. (Neither can Red Hat nor SUSE.)
        Rabid Howler Monkey