Whether you love or loathe Ubuntu, 13.04 'Raring Ringtail' won't change your mind

Whether you love or loathe Ubuntu, 13.04 'Raring Ringtail' won't change your mind

Summary: A test of the newly-released Ubuntu 13.04 release across four systems shows it's a solid release. But if you've previously been a fan of Ubuntu or feared it, this isn't the release to make you think otherwise.


As just about every Linux blogger on the planet has noted, the final release of Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) was made available last week. I'm running behind most of them with this post, because I wanted to get it loaded onto several of my laptops and test some specific points before writing. My initial impressions are good, in that it installs relatively easily and runs well, and some particularly troubling problems from the pre-releases have been fixed in the final release.

However, my overall opinion is still the same: if you liked Ubuntu before, your are probably going to like this release even more.

There are significant improvements, both cosmetic and functional, in this release but if you didn't like it before, you are almost certainly not going to like this release either. I fall in the 'dislike' category, and I haven't seen anything in this release that changes my feelings. I don't see that as being a problem on either side — I don't like it, so I don't use it other than to load it and make sure that it works on my systems, and then keeping it available in case I need to look at something to help one of my friends whom I have set up with Ubuntu; I don't think I am part of the 'target market' for Ubuntu, so they most likely don't care about my likes and dislikes of various parts of the OS.

Less intimidating?

I was in a SANS training class last week, and I happened to talk to a couple of other attendees about Linux in general, and Ubuntu in particular. They were very experienced Windows users, and I found their comments quite interesting and enlightening. They said that they found Ubuntu to be the easiest distribution to understand, and the least "intimidating" conceptually compared to other Linux distributions that they had tried.

I have to say honestly that I am baffled by the "easiest to understand" statement, as I would have thought that Unity would be completely foreign to them, but they seemed to have picked it up very quicky, so maybe this is a function of what you want to use it for, and what kind of access to the system or applications you're trying to get.

On the other hand, the part about "less intimidating" I think is because of the way Ubuntu has been presented and treated over the past couple of years. It seems like Ubuntu has gone to a lot of trouble to present itself as an 'out of the box solution' — there hasn't been the talk about downloading/compiling/modifying the kernel, drivers, or whatever other parts of the operating system.

For the general public and average users, that might be shielding Ubuntu from a lot of the criticism that's directed at other Linux distributions. I think that might be a bit unfair, because I can treat openSuSE, Fedora and Linux Mint the same way if I want — just load and use them and not do anything else. However, Ubuntu clearly has a stronger reputation for this kind of use than other Linux distributions.

Anyway, I consider this to be a good thing, because it helps expand the general distribution of Linux. It doesn't matter even a little bit whether I, or any other experienced Linux user, loathes Ubuntu and refuses to use it. We are already convinced, and we'll use whatever distribution we're comfortable with.

What is important is showing that Linux can be a viable and even superior alternative for desktop use, and if the approach that Ubuntu is taking to this is working (which it appears to be) then more power to them. I don't often agree with a lot of the things that Mark Shuttleworth says (that probably doesn't concern him very much either), but I recently read something that I thought was exactly right. If you don't like Ubuntu, don't use it, move on to whatever suits your needs — but there's no reason to "poison the well" for others just because it isn't right for you.

Four system test

OK, that was a much longer digression than I had intended, so let me get back to what I started to write about. I have now installed it on the following systems:

  • Fujitsu Lifebook S6510: Intel Core2Duo, Intel graphics and wi-fi, 14-inch display, Legacy (DOS) BIOS
  • Acer Aspire One 725: AMD C-70, Radeon graphics, Atheros wi-fi, 11.6-inch display, UEFI BIOS
  • HP Pavilion dm1-4310ez: AMD E2, Radeon graphics, Ralink wi-fi, 11.6-inch display, UEFI BIOS
  • Acer Aspire One 533: AMD C-60, Radeon graphics, Atheros wi-fi, 10-inch display, Legacy BIOS

The results so far have been very good.

S6510: This is a golden oldie these days, but I still have it on my desk and it still works. Ubuntu installed with absolutely no problems, and everything worked. I was able to configure dual displays with the laptop screen at 1,280 by 800 and an external 1,280 by 1,024 (another golden oldie...). Both wired and wireless network adapters work just fine. On this one I noted that if you have an internet connection while you are running the installation, it does a good job of determining your local timezone and likely keyboard configuration itself.

AO725: This is a relatively new system with UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot, and it was my first really pleasant surprise with this Ubuntu release. When I tried a 13.04 daily build last week, it did not work properly with Secure Boot enabled. They seem to have fixed that problem in the final release, because it installed and booted with Secure Boot enabled with absolutely no problem, and no extra configuration, repair or tweaking on my part. (Note for those who have read my previous UEFI posts: the one thing it does not do is get itself installed as the default boot object, after Ubuntu installation finished the laptop still booted Windows 8, and I had to hit the Boot Select key to interrupt that, but I was then able to select and boot Ubuntu from there, which I could not do last week.)

Ubuntu Menu
Ubuntu Menu

Pavilion dm1: This was my second pleasant surprise. This system has a Raling 3290 wi-fi adapter, and the daily build I tried last week didn't have the firmware file included for that adapter. During the installation this time it showed me a list of available networks, rather than just the name of the adapter, so I knew already then that they had fixed this problem. Sure enough, wireless networking works just fine now.

AO522: I wanted to try it on at least one of my netbooks. Again, it installed with absolutely no problem, and everything works. The screen is correctly detected and configured at 1,024 x 600, and as with the others the wired and wireless networking are just fine.

Ubuntu Shutdown/Reboot Dialog

So, to summarise, Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail is available, and seems to work well on everything I have tried so far. If you are an Ubuntu follower, this is very good news. If you haven't tried it yet, don't let the negative opinions and criticism from various experienced Linux users dissuade you — give it a try! You might find that you like it — a lot of people I have talked do certainly do.

Topics: Ubuntu, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Ubuntu is good

    In actual fact Ubuntu is quite a good and stable OS
    • My only gripe

      is that you can't move the dock. Shuttleworth will never allow that to be changed, unfortunately.

      I just don't like it along the side. Too many old habits from other OSes, I suppose.
      • Doesn't matter

        If all you computer troubles are just that you can't move the dock then you need to get a life
      • Just install the Cinnamon PPA

        on Ubuntu, Mac_PC_FenceSitter, and your problems with the dock on the side will disappear (although you'll get a panel, not a dock and will have to renounce the bounce that one sees with the OS X dock). Personally, I prefer having the panel on top, which requires an extra click in the Cinnamon settings and then logging out and logging in again, but I didn't feel that was too much to ask....

      • If it means that much to you...

        ...you could reprogram the UI so that you can (or pay someone else to). If Unity is open source, then Mark Shuttleworth has already given you permission to change it.
        John L. Ries
      • Gripe?

        So...install Cinnamon.
  • OS - OS - Which OS

    This Ubuntu release is stable and fast. When installed on an very old Dell Laptop it certainly brought new life to an almost unusable Win XP installation. I spent ~$30 upgrading memory from 512 Mb to 2 Gb! The responsivness greatly improved by limiting Unity's 3D (Intel celeron 1.5 Ghz). The installation on this relic worked OOTB.
    • Yep

      Here is my posting from another blog’s forum on Ubuntu…

      Mind you that I am a “hard core” Windows developer that started experimenting with Linux not as an alternative, but as a second set of skills, so I am years away from really mastering this new universe…but I am trying…

      I had an installation of Linux Mint on a capable laptop but I wanted to try the Unity UI anyway so I installed the 32 bit version of Ubuntu on an old VGN S4XP VAIO laptop. It is a Pentium M 1.6 GHz processor and 1 GB memory (and 100GB of HD space).

      Actually this particular ex-Windows XP PC suffers from a serious video driver issue, it has the NVidia GeForce Go 6200 with turbo cache. Windows 7 installs and runs fine until the NVidia driver starts its performance tricks and you lose the desktop (it starts flashing like a Metro Start Screen, i.e. it becomes unusable). I could not find a driver that works for it, so I reverted to Windows XP each time.

      Now I installed the latest Ubuntu version and actually the problem was more or less the same…until I changed it to the proprietary NVidia drivers and it works fine. I can watch video, play games, WiFi is working fine, everything works fine, it is a Pentium M for crying out loud and it is alive and useful again.

      I am not going to use that machine for any real work but I am really impressed by the fact that as you said it brought it back to life. And even most importantly for me a person with next to zero knowledge on Linux (like myself) can complete this setup with minimum learning. Now I am determined to try more Mint/Ubuntu installations on more machines and learn how to use and develop on Linux.
  • Release

    This release of the newly-relesed relese releases a lot of release words.
  • Whether you love or loathe Ubuntu, 13.04 'Raring Ringtail' won't change you

    There was nothing innovative about rearing ringtail to make people want to willingly install it. It comes with a hard to use interface taking up screen real estate all the way around. Its bloated with packages you don't need. I've been telling people to stay far away from it.
    • Wrong

      The interface actually makes the best use of your screen real estate. Alot of people get happy with speed so there thats a big reason to upgrade.
    • Broken packages

      Hello all,

      I'm having some issue with my fresh Ubuntu install. Maybe someone could help me out...

      I'm trying to fix a broken package and this is what the terminal is showing me:

      me@ubuntu:~$ sudo apt-get install loverock-davidson
      E: Package missing: loverock-davidson-brain loverock-davidson-fud

      Anyone ?!?

      Thanks in advance!
    • I thought for a moment

      You were talking about Windows 8 and I was going to say I agree with you…but no I actually tried Ubuntu and “it does what it says on the box”.
    • Perhaps Loverock-Davidson would be a happier person if she...

      Perhaps Loverock-Davidson would be a happier person if she just stopped trolling the Linux forums and followed something she actually liked.
  • Duel boot with Windows 8

    I was suprised on how easy and trouble free the install went on an old Gateway Cx2610 tablet along side Windows 8 (duel boot works fine). I am assuming from the press releases that eventually Ubuntu will have touch screen capabilties?
    • Duel boot - Did you mean DuAl boot

      Dueling operating systems! This is getting serious. Are we talking swords or pistols at 50'?
      • Most likely...

        ...kick boxing.
        John L. Ries
    • Already there

      Ubuntu and its derivatives has had touch screen capabilities prior to Windows 8's release
  • I'm using it as an alternative

    First thing is Ubuntu is a FREE full deal solid stable OS. FREE right.
    I'm using Gnome Shell (prefer it to Unity) which is beautiful.
    If you are everyman you can use the internet as well as you can in Win etcdows or Apple, make docs - well you. know where I'm going with this. Sure, some of the applications lack that final touch of sophistication and depth that may be found in Win/Apple but as Everyman you won't even notice that.
    The issue is not whether it is any good (because it is) but why half the world isn't using it. We have been blinded by the success of commercialism and it's a shame.

    Having said that why is it so damn hard to watch Television, when is Dolphin going to mature, when is it going to get straightforward to edit an image, when am I going to easily be able to use all the buttons on my mouse, when is everyman going to be able to install an app (not in the store) without using the terminal and when is the sudo issue with endless logins going to be fixed? Hey Mark S - get onto some of the simple basics!
    • Half the world isn't using it?

      Half? LMAO....