Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) review

Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) review

Summary: Some of the features that were to be included in Ubuntu 13.04 have been shelved in favour of presenting a polished and solid release, with most of the improvements residing behind the scenes. As a result, Raring Ringtail may seem a bit of a disappointment.

  • Editors' rating:
  • User rating:


  • More polished Unity 7 shell
  • New kernel
  • New versions of preinstalled applications


  • Anticipated new features absent
  • No WUBI
  • No classic shell
  • No Gwibber

After announcements of greater secrecy during the development process (in order to minimise critical pre-judgment of the release), suggestions about changing to a rolling release for the non-LTS desktop version, and hints from Mark Shuttleworth about exciting new features, Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) is here and — well, it's all a bit of an anti-climax.

The Ubuntu 13.04 default desktop. The launcher icons are scaled to minimum size and the system is logged into the cloud, as indicated by the cloud symbol at top left.

To be fair, Ubuntu 13.04 is a good, solid release. It has a more finely tuned and polished Unity shell, with incremental improvements in the Linux kernel and in all the major preinstalled applications. But that's it — no amazing new features. It even loses a couple of things: there's no ability to install the GNOME classic shell (unlike GNOME 3.8 which does offer a classic mode); and no WUBI (Windows-based UBuntu Installer).

It is possible to install a GNOME 3 shell (version at present) from the Ubuntu Software Centre, but if you don't like Unity, GNOME 3 may also not appeal, as you cannot even scale the size of its icons (or at least not without editing the gnome-shell.css file). Alternatively for GNOME die-hards there is now an official remix of Ubuntu, called GNOME Remix.

The GNOME 3.6 desktop, as installed on 13.04 from the Software Centre. 'Show Applications' has been selected, showing that the icon scale is rather larger than Unity's.

WUBI has always been a promotional tool for Ubuntu — a way to tempt Windows users to trial Ubuntu with very little effort. With the extra security features of Windows 7 and now Windows 8, Microsoft has, coincidentally, made it much harder for other operating systems to share a machine with Windows. WUBI has therefore been dropped from 13.04 and the Desktop download page on the Ubuntu website provides specific advice for installing Ubuntu on a computer running Windows 8 or using UEFI firmware.

Arguably, 13.04 has lost three things because Gwibber, the social networking client, has gone too. The recent introduction of the Qt/QML application development toolkit prompted Gwibber's author to update and rewrite it. As part of that process, the application was renamed Friends and as it's not yet fully developed it's no longer part of the default installation set. You can install it separately from the Software Centre though.

Another casualty of Dash rationalisation: the drop-down text navigation, hidden on the left-hand end of the desktop bar in 12.10 (above), is now gone in 13.04.

Although the icons and text drop-down menus at the right hand-end of the desktop top menu bar are still with us in 13.04, the navigation menus that would appear in 12.10 when the left side of the desktop menu bar was moused over have now gone. Those functions must now be accessed via the right-hand desktop menu, via Dash or Nautilus.

What might have been: Smart Scopes
Early on in the development cycle, Mark Shuttleworth hinted at plans for some startling new features in Ubuntu 13.04. However, the only new feature that briefly surfaced was Smart Scopes, which promised to short-circuit the browser by extending the scope of the Dash search bar.

So keen were Shuttleworth and the Ubuntu developers to include this feature in Raring Ringtail that a slip on the feature freeze date for the beta was authorised to try and accommodate it. This still wasn't enough time, however, and Smart Scopes are currently slated for Ubuntu 13.10.

Smart Scopes are designed to allow you to search for anything, anywhere (local or online) by entering a simple search term to the Dash search. The existing Dash scopes would remain the same (Home, Applications, Files, Music, Pictures and Video displayed as icons across the bottom of the Dash pane), but the Dash Filters are to be expanded with many further scope modifiers helping to increase the accuracy of the search. Online searches will be referred to a Canonical-maintained server using a learning algorithm (hence the 'smart') to refine searching.

Unity 7
In Unity 7 a new-look Nautilus file manager adds file operations icons in a bar above the folder and file window. This seems slightly at odds with the principle of the text drop-down menus for the current application always appearing at the top of the display in the desktop menu bar. The top-level text menu for navigation that used to appear in the desktop bar in 12.10 has now gone, so the only way to navigate to Computer, for example, is via the left-hand panel menu in Nautilus.

New file operations icons occupy a bar at the top of the Nautilus window.

As mentioned in our Beta 1 preview some Ubuntu icons; the Ubuntu button, the Files icon, the Software Centre icon and the Software Updater icon, have been redesigned. 

New icons for Unity 7: the Software Centre icon and Software Updater icon now share an 'A' element and the predominantly orange theme with the existing Ubuntu One and Ubuntu One Music icons.

Apart from the changes to Nautilus and the new icons, many of the differences in Unity 7 are subtle and you might not notice them unless you were running two machines side by side performing the same tasks, one with Unity 7 and one with the previous version. These include: fuzzy search for application names in Dash; faster rolling reveal for launcher icons that overflow the bottom of the launcher bar; a further application-switching method using the mouse scroll wheel; and in the options list revealed by right-clicking on the applications launcher icons, if two instances of an application are open a dot appears next to the instance that has the focus.

Tweaks to Unity 7 include a dot to indicate the application instance that has the focus in the applications options list.
The new Ubuntu One Sync menu.
The new Unity-themed transparent Log Out dialogue, displayed over a background message.

As mentioned in our 13.04 Beta 1 preview, the Shut down and Log Out dialogues have been restyled to the Unity theme. However their new transparency does make them look a bit messy when another message is present in the background.

Linux Kernel 3.8.0-19
Improvements to the Nouveau driver in the 3.8 kernel (the previous Ubuntu 12.10 release uses the 3.5 kernel) mean that 3D acceleration is now supported, for all of the GeForce graphics chips available so far, without the need for further configuration. However, better performance may still be achieved via Nvidia's proprietary driver. Intel graphics are also well supported.

There are improvements to the file systems too, with support for Samsung's F2FS (Flash-Friendly File System) and upgrades to the still-experimental Btrfs and Ext4.

Preinstalled applications
The preinstalled application on Ubuntu 13.04 are: LibreOffice (office suite); Firefox 20.0 (browser); Thunderbird 17.0.5 (email client); Rythmbox 2.98 (music player); Shotwell 0.14.1 (photo manager); Remmina (remote desktop client); and Brasero 5.6.1 (CD/DVD burner).

What's next?
Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical have a stated goal of creating a platform-agnostic operating system — that is, an OS that will run on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones, all presenting the same user interface with touch support.

Current plans indicate that operating system convergence is to occur with the release of Ubuntu 14.04, due on 24 April 2014. A number of consequences seem to be rippling back from this aim point as the Ubuntu developers get to grips with what will be necessary to achieve this convergence. I've mentioned plans to move from X Windows to the Wayland display server in previous Ubuntu release reviews. One result of the convergence plan is that Wayland has now been dropped in favour of Mir, Ubuntu's own display server, which is currently under development.

Another consequence is that some of the features that were to be included in 13.04 have been shelved in favour of presenting a polished and solid release, with most of the improvements residing behind the scenes. As a result, Raring Ringtail may seem a bit of a disappointment. Some new features should appear in October's 13.10 release, but you'll have to wait until 14.04 for the really big changes.


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Topics: Ubuntu, Linux, Operating Systems, Reviews

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  • Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) review

    Kudos Ubuntu Team.

    Great article.
  • I like it so far ...


    I like it so far, but I started with Xubuntu 13.04-beta2 as I can't stand Unity.

    I'd like to see a "rolling" release into 13.10. I'm really tired of having to re-install all the packages I need to make the system useful to me.

    This is the first Nouveau driver version I can actually use, instead of cursing the display glitches as I try to install the proprietary drivers -- haven't tried them yet, may not see a need.
    • "rolling" release into 13.10


      Not sure why you would want to go from a long-term support (the .04) to the cutting-edge (.10) release. The LTS versions are usually better supported for drivers and stable versions. Of course, if you enjoy being the first to get the new stuff...LOL
      Iman Oldgeek
      • Well as 12.04 was the last LTS relase not 13.04...

        ....wally probably want's the new stuff! :)
  • Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) review


    Linux is in bad shape when its own community finds it to be dull and boring. I can't blame them as I've been saying this about linux for years. Look at the ugly interface, its completely unusable and was not made for a desktop or portable device. Navigation is hard to get around and you need to know what you are doing to open any applications. Linux just thew point and click out the door.

    Still comes with a sql server and mail server installed to bloat up the installation. No one needs these apps but linux would want you to believe you do. Then there is the whole g++ compiler being installed which is a few gigs for the libraries to add the bloat. That is right they had to add the compiler so you can compile your own applications and kernel! Its sad that linux just doesn't work out of the box but you have to spend days if not weeks configuring and compiling.

    Security is a nightmare. If it isn't your linux box getting hacked through the open telnet port then its one of the 2 year old exploits they left open. You can always download the tainted packages from the repositories that are getting hacked as well. I would definitely skip on installing this version or any version of linux. Too many problems and too much hassle.
    • Gotta love the ignorati


      LD,I know you find Windows 8 to be an exciting new interface (reminds you of those little wooden blocks you played with last year, eh?), but with the exception of Unity, most Linux distros have some variation of the standard "icons on desktop" that we have used for years in Windows, Linux, and even OSX. If your comments were directed at the Unity interface, I agree with you. Unless you know the names of every piece of software, you need to guess until you find it. It's ugly and clunky.

      SQL server and mail server? Really? Where would those be? I run Ubuntu 12.04LTS and I have neither. They were available on earlier "server" versions, and I can easily get them from the Software Center if I ever find a need. Also, I have been running Linux since 10.04, have done two upgrades, and I try tons of software. My boot partition is only using 68GB (including root, swap, and home) and because of the increased security of the journaling file system, I leave a lot of non-vital data on that partition.

      I also do not have a compiler (again, the software repositories are a couple of clicks away), and have never had a need to compile software or kernel. The sole issue I have had with Ubuntu was the HD audio on my computer was a very new release and I had to track down a compatible older driver that would work. With 11.04, everything--every bit of hardware I have--is supported. Yeah, I spent about two hours troubleshooting the audio...about what it takes me to install drivers for the unsupported devices in Windows 7.

      Insofar as telnet being open, Ubuntu ships with NO open network ports, but ports are opened if you have enabled any network-related services. I don't know where you get your information (We Hate Penguins?) but there are a lot of things you claim which are merely more FUD and misinformation.

      I challenged you on a different page to install Linux and use it for a month. I suggested Mint 14 with the Mate UI. Give it an honest shot, and your credibility on posts about Linux will climb (you will actually have some). Until then, Windows fanboy, please get your information straight before posting.

      Ubuntu 12.04/Pinguy OS/Mint 14/Windows XP (VM)/WIndows 7
      Iman Oldgeek
      • What did Microsoft Windows have to do with any of this?


        You seem to be more hung up on making linux like Microsoft Windows when Windows doesn't have anything to do with this. I'm not worried about my credibility as people are always waiting for me to arrive with my insights about linux. They tell me so in their posts.
        • Insight requires experience


          This use of "insight" requires an inside knowledge

          Your previous comment highlighted that you do not have that experience.

          Again, just install it and give it a go - it'll take less time than googling things to complain about.
    • As compared to Windows 8?

      Ugly? What's with the touch screen desktop on a PC? It takes up the whole center of the screen.

      I like the look of Ubuntu, as well as the customizable setup.

      Is this the Pot calling the Ketle Black? Windows has so many more exploit holes, I don't see why you would even try to bring that into the discussion. Besides, you are never going to try it anyway, what difference does it make?
      • This isn't about Microsoft Windows 8


        This is about linux and how ubuntu and Canonical dropped the ball on a bad release.
        • What was really dropped...


          Some people seem very intent on tearing up OS releases and their parents, but I do not see their names on any of these development teams. And I do not see these people writing their own OS. But the saddest thing is seeing a FREE item being bashed. So, what was really dropped...? Ubuntu may not be perfect, but its accomplishments are still amazing given the fact that Cannonical offers it for free, and anyone who chooses to use it is quite able (unless technologically challenged) to make modifications to improve it and customize it to their own needs.
        • Stability != 'bad release'

          The article is more about how some expected new features did not make it into the new release. Stability and speed at the cost of expected features != bad release; The problem highlighted in the article points to the fact that enthusiasts arent going to be all fired up by the fact that some of their expected features are missing. Doesnt matter, 13.04 still blows 12.10 out of the water because of its stability and subtle usability tweaks.
          • I agree; bad release

            I miss Wubi (not included with this version). Thus, I wipped out MS Windows; completely erased from HD. This version of Ubuntu crashed several times (it's unstable). I'm not impressed. Ain't nobody got time for that.
    • Wow, Lovey, I think you may just be the perfect shill

      Twisting things so much that you might rip a groin muscle.

      1. Linux community finds it "dull and boring". Where is that said?
      2. "Look at the ugly interface, its completely unusable and was not made for a desktop or portable device." If it were completely unusable, how is that millions of people use it everyday as their primary OS? Hyperbole? Outright lie? I don't care for Unity, but that certainly doesn't mean that it is non-functional.
      3. "Linux just thew point and click out the door." Where does it say that? Pretty sure you just pulled that one out of your ass. My mouse seems to work just fine on this release.
      4. "Still comes with a sql server and mail server installed to bloat up the installation. No one needs these apps but linux would want you to believe you do." Pure B.S. Some people, who actually use computers to do work, need a mail server and/or a sql server and it's provided for them at no additional cost.
      5. "That is right they had to add the compiler so you can compile your own applications and kernel! Its sad that linux just doesn't work out of the box but you have to spend days if not weeks configuring and compiling." Again, so preposterous that I am having trouble finding few enough words to tell you how utterly idiotic your comment is within this space. It's a rare gift to be so imbecilic that you leave those people seeking to reply practically speechless.
      6. "Security is a nightmare. If it isn't your linux box getting hacked through the open telnet port then its one of the 2 year old exploits they left open. You can always download the tainted packages from the repositories that are getting hacked as well." It is common knowledge that linux is more secure than Windows, whether by design or obscurity. The open telnet reference is just so classic Lovey.

      You've done well and earned your MS paycheck, Lovey. Take your mom to dinner and maybe you can now pay her the three months of rent you still owe her for living in her basement.
      • No twisting, but lets correct your statements


        1. See first paragraph
        2. See screen shots
        3. See #2
        4. Home users don't need a mail server and sql server
        5. When I'm right it upsets you so much all you can do is insult
        6. This doesn't involve Microsoft Windows. These are real security concerns.

        Then more insults because you know my statements are correct. Instead of being mad at me why don't you get mad at Torvalds or Shuttleworth, they are the ones that created this.
        • No


          LD, many of your previous statements are most definitely incorrect. Particularly the reference to bloatware you made. Standard Ubuntu installations do NOT include the software you listed.
          Tyrone Warren
      • Spin


        @WhatsamattaU You nailed it by calling out the over-the-top SPIN!
    • Unbelievable rubbish


      @Loverock-Davidson What have you been smoking??
      • Nothing


        I don't smoke because its bad for your health.
        • Lol


          You're bad for our health, troll.