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Linux Ubuntu 12.10 review: finally growing up

A beautiful beginning

After reviewing the last version of Ubuntu 12 a few months ago I wasn’t too impressed with the OS in general. Ubuntu kept loyal to its obscure following by not dipping its toes into the real reason Windows and OSX are popular. And I’m happy to say that it has finally broken out of that mold with Linux Ubuntu 12.10.

I would like to remind you that this is still a beta and I’m reviewing the work that it has done so far. I usually run beta OS’s because I’m a sucker for them, and I’ve reviewed Windows 8 since the Developer Preview, so this is only fair.

Single core blues

Looking sharp

When I installed Ubuntu on my regular setup I noticed it is extremely slow on a single core, 2 GB system where the previous version ran fine. This time I didn’t even run it from a USB stick, this was a pure install from the get go. So I moved over to a Quad Core, 4 GB system and it performed reasonably well. I was seriously surprised by this as the Linux faithful always touted Linux as being the OS to install on dusty old stuff.

The UI hasn’t changed much from the previous version. The dock still hovers at the left and the taskbar or menu bar will be at the top. There were a few additional programs installed and some pinned websites like Amazon. They finally added an Ubuntu Music store with a few songs if you’re feeling frisky with your credit card.

The music store is a website unfortunately and not a dedicated native app like with the App store. The app store however grew by quite a number and now features 46k apps. In stark contrast the Windows 8 store only sports around 2500 right now, but that is growing.

Unstable relations

Still looks better than Windows 8

The OS was extremely unstable and I had applications force quit on me a hundred times, and I saw the nice when you’re suicidal Crash report pop up every now and again. I also had to restart several times because for some reason when I closed settings the entire UI would disappear and leave me hanging. Some of these issues were resolved when I finally found the Software update app.

Software update was improved and now only shows a single bar showing progress. However it isn’t in the top right corner under the power button. It’s conveniently moved into the App Dash. I would still prefer it to be in the Settings menu because it seems like the logical place for it.

App improvements

Music for the geek niche

The App Dashboard improved a bit as well. Searching for say Fire (for Firefox), it automatically searches the App store, Music store and Amazon.com. This is quite interesting and it remains to be seen how useful this is. Built in search functions in operating systems have always been a grabbing at straws kind of affair. OSX has that awful Finder with an App Dashboard which don’t complement each other, and Windows 8 comes with a rather unhelpful search function which lets you click one of the hundreds of options. It’s nice to see this Dashboard give you multiple results right on the first page from several apps. This is definitely a plus for Ubuntu.

Security’s improved a bit too. It’s adopted the Apple OSX method of asking for your password every time you look over your shoulder. I appreciate this move however it gets a bit old after five minutes. But being the most secure OS comes with a few negatives.

So I wanted to check how Ubuntu changed upon my original gripes. I wanted to see what would happen if an everyday Linux user wanted to listen to music, or install an app. So I downloaded a random track which seemed appropriate and lo and behold. The built-in media player didn’t even have the plug-ins installed for a standard MP3. I had to install a codec with that password popup box plaguing me again. I would suggest that they include these from the get go. I’m fortunate enough to have fast internet, but what about someone who doesn’t?

It’s the App Store we need, not the app store we want

I also downloaded Minecraft and the process is still as tiresome as the previous time, with an additional password request box. Instead of making the process less of a hassle they went and added even more steps to playing your favorite game. I would seriously suggest they include Java and Flash. Also, as I’ve said before, it would be a bit more convenient if they added a ‘Run Anyway’ button when you download a new application. Or make it easier to make apps run as executable files, because having to jump in head first into settings kills the buzz.

LibreOffice were updated to the latest version and it still is as basic as they come. I would still prefer if Microsoft moves Office 2013 to Linux but we can only hope. What I currently enjoy about Office 2013 is the fact that you have all your social networks plugged into Office, and that you can directly save to Skydrive. Maybe Mark should light a fire under the LibreOffice team and let them build some functionality of Ubuntu One into their office suite. I was surprised to see Thunderbird Mail, I thought they killed it off already.

Happy endings

Overall the OS was cleaned up a lot and I have to say it’s becoming a bigger and bigger player in the market, based on how easy to use it is slowly becoming. It’s still a pain in the behind in most cases. Mark, I have to give you a slow clap here. I am looking forward to seeing the final version. Hopefully they’ll make some real changes that would make me actually recommend this to someone.

Author Bio

Dreyer Smit
By day he seems like a normal everyday person, going about his chores working like a good little bee. But at night he changes into the Tech Guru Dreyer Smit. Testing every cool gadget he can get his hands on. Biggest Microsoft fan, but will always recommend the best... More
  • LOL, Just a comment on the release number, Ubuntu uses the year and the month as when figuring out release numbers, so 12.04 was released on the 4th month of 2012. You release number you have specified is 12.1 which would mean it was released in January. The actual release is 12.10 as we are in the 10th month.

  • 1) Mp3 support is not enabled due to licensing issues. That is one of the major reasons.
    2) Linux runs on a myriad number of devices. However, that does not always follow that any distro can run smoothly on any platform no matter what the specs of the machine.
    3) It asking for passwords is fine for me. I bet I’ve been used to it after using Linux for over 10 years. What I would like is a more consistent Password Dialog Box across the board. Sometimes I’m seeing different looks from different apps. 🙂

  • give a review of mageia 3 aplha and fedora 18 alpha too

  • Jamie Dimmel

    Please buy a box copy of Windows and install on blank machine, then attempt to play music and video. When you are done repeat again how Linux is a “pain in the behind”. Comparing Linux to a preinstalled version of Windows is like comparing apples to potatoes – totally different thing.

  • MP3, DVD codecs, Oracle Java and Flash are not included due to licensing and support issues. Even in Windows, MP3 and DVD codecs do not come pre-installed. Also, there is no office suite and GNU/Linux don’t need an anti-virus.
    System stability might be caused due to Unity or your hardware set-up, probably a graphics driver problem. I would suggest you to try the other distros like openSuse, Mint 13 Mate (with codecs).
    Asking for password for installing apps has become the standard in almost all OS, including Windows. If you don’t see the password prompt in Windows, it means you’re running the system with Administrator privileges, and this could seriously compromise your system’s security, be it Windows or GNU/Linux.

  • Nick

    Regarding security adapted from OSX: This is based on “sudo” a command/program developed in the 80s long before Apple switched to its Unix (BSD) version of its operating system.

    Regarding overall security: Even though Ubuntu or Linux in general is not perfect I am not sure how you can even compare it with Windows which is one of the most insecure OS out there. You cannot even think of running a Windows machine without virus protection software (a performance hog and a virus like program in its own right – have you ever tried to de-install a virus protection program?). OSX is Unix so it is pretty good but its popularity make it a bigger target lately.

    Regarding LibreOffice MS Office comparison: Office is not part of the Windows base distribution so I am not sure how can you even compare. Even though Office is a bit more advance I don t think there anything an ordinary user will need. Social network integration is achieved by using tools like Gwibber and not an office suite. Cloud drives are available and can be integrated like Ubuntu One or Dropbox or even Box. The only thing Office has a clear advantage is for business users that need a collaboration suite (like sharepoint). Google docs is the only remedy for that and at a great price break.

    Regarding stability and performance: It is kind of ridiculous to discuss and compare with other commercial OS when using a beta version. Of course only discussing the desktop version because the server version has a clear advantage over M$ (and OSX server is dead)

    Regarding codecs and licensing: I am sorry you were inconvenienced by downloading an extra codec and having to supply your password one more time. Personally I would take that any time over all the other disadvantages commercial operating systems have to offer and at a higher price 🙂

    Overall the article looked good (like OSX and Windows) but it was light on information and at times misleading. I would not have replied but Google News picked it up and more people might read it and get the wrong picture. There are probably more items that need clarification but my advice is unless you use Ubuntu or any other Linux distro on a daily basis it is hard to have a clear understanding of how it works. Looks are only part of the operating system. Functionality is much more important.

  • Nick

    Correction: “Even though Office is a bit more advance I don t think there anything an ordinary user will need.” should read “Even though Office is a bit more advance I don’t think it offers more functionality than Libreoffice which an ordinary user will need.”

  • fmonroy

    Many are personal appreciations.

  • david

    Why didn’t he just install restricted extras when he installed it if he wanted to play mp3’s and such?

  • iammad

    >Some of these issues were resolved when I finally found the Software update app.
    First of all, what kind or rubbish tech reporter are you? I have been a long time windows user and I found the software update app in 2 minutes, with zero help. Its not that hard.

    >I would seriously suggest they include Java and Flash.
    Have a look at flash’s terrible support for Linux, (Hint: flash completely abandoned Linux). Also Linux distros try and keep non-free software to a minimum. Java is a huge security risk and unnecessary for a lot of people.

    >it would be a bit more convenient if they added a ‘Run Anyway’ button when you download a new application
    ARE YOU SERIOUS? Do you know anything about Linux? Ever wonder why Linux doesn’t suffer from the wave of malicious programs windows does? Security over laziness. The point of constantly asking for permission to execute is to force a conscious decision to execute a program.

    >I also downloaded Minecraft and the process is still as tiresome as the previous time
    >based on how easy to use it is slowly becoming
    Again how on earth are you a tech reporter? I dual booted windows with Ubuntu. Ubuntu was by far easier to install and use. Ubuntu is designed to be beginner Linux, if you found it remotely hard… I seriously have to question your intelligence.

    I could go on about how stupid you are, but I wont waste my time. The other posts make good points about your other errors. Its obvious you are a windows fan boy who wants only to see the negatives in Ubuntu. You are a complete prick for trying to put people off.

    I agree Ubuntu is not perfect, but if we compare it too windows, its a mile ahead in security and usability.

  • Rey Angeles

    I know I agree. The problem with these people is that they think that going to Best Buy getting a PC is actually installing an OS. If everyone had to install Windows from scratch they would be in a world of hurt. But its cool, I’ll stick with Ubuntu and have a secure and stable OS above the main stream ones. What I suggest to this guy is to get a System76 PC with Ubuntu pre install then review and you’ll see what a great OS is suppose to be.

  • None

    is this a joke or are you just retarded?

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  • Burhan

    but we know that ubuntu uses much more energy than and consumes battery too fast. That does not make me happy..

  • sam

    dude you REALLY need to work on your English skills

  • Ubuntu

    Ok. Well, its your opinion, of course. But let me say that i am an Ubuntu user since 7.04 version and i am quite happy with it. I dont use windows from all that time. Codecs? Well, ubuntu should explain on the first use of the OS how we could install all the extras, but nothing that a little search on the software center couldn’t fix. Office? well, libreoffice is good but definitely needs a more and actual look. The security password box appearing all the time? Its good how it is. Not heavy on my pc (intel core i3 with 4 gb ram and intel+ati card) and with 64 bit version, uses 600mb ram. Of course, this is my opinion, and ubuntu suit my needs.

  • Ubuntu

    Sorry. Curently working on that.

  • ubuntu

    well, after reading your review of the ubuntu 12.04, i really think you’re a windows fanatic. or a linux hater. Pure nonsense, your review of the ubuntu 12.04.

  • dimika

    I think this article gave me cancer 🙁 Writers gross ignorance and incompetence is mind baffling. Please, hang yourself or at least stop writing publicly. Thank you.

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  • Yordan

    I can see that you are a pure Windows user, judging from this article and the other one on “Linux survival guide”. If you say something then check it first then write out your opinion(I’m talking about the password prompt that you hate so much). Don’t just write something that you think is right, you may hit the nail somethimes but in most cases you hit your finger.

    If you love it that much to download something from internet and then double click to install it then PLEASE don’t make it sound that it’s big minus that the execution bit isn’t set. It’s not a minus, but a plus. Linux just doesn’t work that way. I’m sure a lot of people will agree on that.

    From your articles if I haven’t used linux I would have gotten scared to try it, not mentioning ubuntu(the one you write about). It sounds like a dark arts work… As a regular Windows user I might think: “I won’t get caught in this dark magic as my other friends that recommend me to try it out.”.

    I use ubuntu and I’m quite pleased with it. You may not recommend it but I do recommend it and I get results. A few of my friends(that don’t play games) at some point ask me to install it, because they are tired of Windows… and they like it. For example my girlfriend uses ubuntu on her laptop, not because I forced it on her but because it appealed to her when she tried it on my laptop. Even NVIDIA,s optimus and the ‘optirun’ command didn’t make her want to switch back to Windows. Unity is also one of her big arguments not wanting to switch back, although I can’t agree on that with her.

  • Robert

    I went straight to the comments as per usual where I saw verbal slurs being hurled at the author and the contents of the article. I thought to myself “It’s just typical rage from the rabid linux fanboys who run amok whenever someone else has an opinion that is not in line with the oligarchy.” That’s when I decided to read the article. Lo and behold, the article is worse than drivel from a 2 year old. I get the impression that the author is either an idiot or a deliberate troll.

  • I truly believe you lack the necessary knowledge in Ubuntu to right such a review..

  • damien duncan

    Being asked for your password when ever root privileges are required, is not new to ubuntu, or even linux. Complaining about about codecs not being installed is absolutely laughable considering you have to install the media player codec pack in windows 7, to do exactly the same thing.The difference being, Microsoft directed me to a 3rd party site to install these codecs instead of easily pulling from a trusted repository,. You whine and complain about everything, then give praise to mark for the introduction of ad-ware Forcing local search to the web,through the home lens, in the hope to sell us something, so canonical can earn some affiliate dollars.Something the community hates most of all about 12.10. Apart from Ui differences, what exactly can’t you do in libre office that you can do in Microsoft office? Worst review ever!

  • I truly believe that you are right with this observation. Jesus, in Germany we call it “Fremdscham” (feeling ashamed for other people’s actions) what I feel right now.

  • I’m happy with this review as it shows that you really need to be a real pain in the behind yourself to find something negative to say. Ubuntu has grown up and is a real alternative. Installing some additional features like mp3 and dvd support isn’t that difficult and bear in mind that this also needs to done within other OS-es. There is still room for improvement, that’s for sure, but I’m confident that the next releases of Ubuntu will show the real potential. I’m glad that Mark Shuttleworth stuck out his head with Unity and the Amazon feature and we are likely to see a lot more. Canonical has very recently decided to develop new features behind closed doors and present it when it’s almost finished: a very wise decision because what I’ve seen so far is the Unity is a far better desktop than most other alternatives in the Linux world, although most Linux ‘lovers’ hated its’ guts when Unity first came out. But hey, come on, we need these drastic improvements, otherwise we would still use a terminal or just plain vanilla X. I really hope that Canonical will improve the overall integration of photo, video, music and cloud services the way Apple did. An operating system should not be just an adding up of applications, it should bring synergy between the applications. E.g. if I make a movie with program ABC I expect that I can easily trigger program XYZ (that looks and feels the same) to burn my movie on a DVD or post it to Youtube.

  • jabaa

    Bro, do you even linux?

  • Just posting this in case someone still happens on this article and is put off by what you said about .mp3 codec not being pre-installed. At least since Ubuntu 12.04, if not earlier, you’re given to boxes you can check just before the final click to start installation – one to download and install updates during installation and a second to install third party software such as Flash, .mp3 and other media codecs. My guess is you didn’t check them or the beta didn’t have that option.