Well, that time has finally come, and the latest release of Ubuntu, version 7.10, codenamed “Gutsy Gibbon” is finally out, officially, for real, as certified personally by members of the release team on IRC! Please use bittorrent to download it if possible, as the server load is immense (as you can imagine). Detailed torrent info with hashes is available here.
Now, while everyone is downloading, installing, seeding, and being giddy, I’d like to take a moment to point out the new features that interest me personally. This is of course no indication of which ones are most important, nor a comprehensive list - just what I like. :) <h3>Gnome 2.20 Features</h3> <h4>Form filling</h4>
This is pretty huge. The ability to fill out PDF forms is crucial for everything from annual tax filings to immigration applications, and it’s extremely useful to have the default PDF viewer able to do this rather than needing a separate application. <h4>Synchronized notes</h4>
I’ve been trying to get in the habit of using Tomboy to keep track of things. It’s taking some getting used to, since I’ve been doing a lot of random Post-Its on the desk more, but it’s nice. Now that I actually use Ubuntu in multiple places (home and school), being able to share those notes will be pretty handy. <h4>Keyring unlocking</h4>
The NetworkManager bug where it has to ask for the gnome-keyring password on login has long been one of my pet peeves. From the description, it sounds like this release will be able to finally solve that problem (or at least make if very easy to fix on individual machines). Additionally, having all of the different kinds of passwords in one location (Seahorse) is nice and sane. <h4>Help browser</h4>
Probably the biggest thing here for me is the speed aspect. I’ve always kind of wondered why yelp was a bit on the laggy side, and this will be a nice change. The theming thing is cool too, but I haven’t decided yet how important that is to me here. <h4>Screensaver messages</h4>
Okay, I’m honestly not sure how much use I’ll get out of this feature myself, since I’m the only user of my machine and in a home environment, but it’s still very cool. The biggest thing I see this being useful for is corporate environments, where people may be out of their cubicle for a few minutes and a co-worker just needs to leave a quick note. One less scrap of paper to clutter the desk with. <h3>Ubuntu Features</h3> <h4>Fast user switching</h4>
Great for situations such as home users where someone might need to get on every half hour to check something for a research paper, but doesn’t want to disturb a family member doing other work for too long each time. <h4>Graphical X configuration</h4>
Another long-standing wishlist item. Just another essential step in making Linux more accessible to the less technical user, who shouldn’t need to resort to command-line config file editing for anything. <h4>Fully automatic printer installation</h4>
Okay, I honestly don’t have the foggiest clue how they managed to pull this one off. Regardless though, I certainly can’t argue that it is very very slick. Someone feel free to enlighten me on IRC sometime about how this works. <h4>NTFS writing</h4>
Another basic must-have for anyone dual-booting with a Windows machine. It’s highly unfortunate that the community had to spend lots of valuable time reverse-engineering a filesystem just so users could access their data, but that’s what you have to deal with when companies like Microsoft insist on using closed-spec nonsense that doesn’t work with anything. <h4>Encrypted hard disks in installer</h4>
Another long-standing wishlist item. While it’s long been possible to create encrypted partitions, it took more work than it should. With the version of debian-installer from Etch, they’re now supported right off the bat in the installation process (alternate CD only). This is handy for corporate users who have to be worried about company proprietary information, or anyone who doesn’t particularly like the idea of the government seizing their laptop and sifting through all of their data. <h4>Expanded automatic server options</h4>
No matter how you slice it, this is just nifty. Now I can get my web, file, and print server set up by just checking boxes, without getting any of the stuff I don’t need. It’s nice to see the ease and usability Ubuntu is known for on the desktop extending into the server market too.
So, get it and check it out for yourself!
Remember, if you’re in Minnesota, join us at our release party on Saturday. We can provide you with a CD at that time if you’d like as well.