Posted by Deliverator on October 18th, 2007
The latest release of one of the most popular Linux operating systems just hit the web. I have used Ubuntu through several generations on a wide variety of different hardware platforms (this server runs it) and I have been really impressed by how each new release introduces technically ambitious, substantive new features and integrates them into the look and feel of the OS in a consistent, thoughtful manner, which is a lot more than I can say about the Windows OS space. Also unlike the most recent version of Windows, Ubuntu feels fast and responsive on even fairly modest hardware. This latest release, codenamed “Gutsy Gibbon” introduces a slew of new features. Some of my favorite include:
-Latest version of the Gnome desktop environment with 3D visual effects turned on by default. Also, unlike Vista, the 3d environment can actually be put to good, functional use.
-Much better support for detecting and configuring your graphics settings without needing to modify arcane text configuration files
-Plug and play printer installation. I know this has been in the Windows world for ages, but Linux has had a different focus for a long time. To be able to just plug a printer into a Linux system and have it work with no fuss is a big deal.
-Supports reading and writing to NTFS formatted disks, which makes cohabitation with Windows formatted drives much easier.
-Ability to encrypt the full hard disk.
-Improved power consumption for laptops and desktops
-First version of Ubuntu to support AppArmor which allows one to place strict boundaries on what files/devices (on Linux the distinction between the two is muddled) a program can access. This is great as it allows one to confine programs to only the resources they need, so that they can’t harm the rest of the system. It is fairly common in the Windows world in particular for an undocumented vulnerability in a program such as a web server to be used to gain access to the broader system. In this era of internet worms, exploitation of common vulnerabilities can lead to millions of affected computers in a very short time. Not everyone keeps their systems patched and up to date, and even those that do can fall prey to an undocumented exploit. Technologies like AppArmor help to seriously limit the potential fallout of such an attack.
Anyways, download Ubuntu and give it a truly no risk free trial via its bootable cd mode and when you are ready to install it on your computer full time, your pocketbook can rest easy as Ubuntu is free then too. If you aren’t ready to commit to Ubuntu entirely, you can even install it in a dual-boot mode which will allow you to preserve your existing Windows installation.