Monday, February 26, 2007

Ubuntu 6.06 LTS

I just received Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (long term support) from a friend and gave it a spin. He ordered it from the website and gave it to me after trying it out and failing to get the hang of Linux (he is still a Linux noob.)
This is not the latest release but is backed by a 3 year support for desktops and 5 years for servers. Some institutions will definitely benefit from this, only one or two other distros offer the same support.


Each time I boot a new version of a distro I'm amazed at how far Linux has come, and in recent times it has come in leaps and bounds, the kernel, KDE, Gnome and a myriad of applications has come of age and really makes Linux an enjoyable experience! I really think Linux is ready for the main desktop stage, with KDE 4 around the corner and who knows what in the new kernel releases there is only good things to come.


Lets get back to Ubuntu and firstly take a look at the offerings on the CD.

If you load it under Windows you get a part of the OpenCD with open source applications to install, Gimp, Firefox and whatnot, and if you click on the desktop screenshot you get a brief introduction into Ubuntu. A very nice touch indeed! It send out a positive message, willing someone into giving Ubuntu a try.



Boot up the CD and get a Grub menu to choose the boot parameters. Note the “safe graphics mode”, this has helped me a lot on some difficult hardware setups (laptops) and is definitely an A+ for ease of use.



Once booted you are put into a Gnome based LiveCD environment and immediately you will notice the strange looking desktop icon, one is for the installation, okay, but the other one? Open it and see to how great a length the developers of Ubuntu has gone to make this as user friendly and feature packed distro as possible!



Yup, a folder full of promotional goodness! From Nelson Mandella explaining the meaning of 'ubuntu' to presentations on the operating system, fliers, logos, etc. a very nice touch indeed! You can use the LiveCD and do a Ubuntu/Kubuntu presentation! Now that is smart marketing.


Now before some of us go and faint, lets get on with the installation...


Six easy steps, that is all it takes. There are other distro that also follow a similar installation method and this, to me, is the most fail safe way of getting the OS installed. No way you can mess this up, just answer a few very simple questions and your set!



Now lets restart and see what we get.

Once restarted we are presented with gdm, log in and you again see the familiar gnome desktop.



I'm not going to go into what packages are installed by default since this has become rather irrelevant with the package managers of late, Ubuntu sporting over 10 000 packages to choose from, just about anything you may need for every task and some more.


Onto the package manager, Synaptec.



As we know there are a few installation mediums used in Linux today with RPM, deb and source being the most common. Ubuntu, being a Debian offshoot, uses Debian package management. The plus of this is that it is a solid and well tested medium.

Open up Synaptic ("Add/Remove" under the applications menu), easy enough, click the corresponding application and install, what could be more difficult? It even has the option to show you unsupported and commercial packages. You will need this to get those DVDs working, very well thought out and could not be easier to use.


Now onto personal preferences. I will probably never get used to the 'sudo' environment. It seems all too easy that one could make a mistake, seeing the sudo and user password is the same. I know it can be configured otherwise, but tell that to a Linux newbie. Also, no SElinux support, or maybe I overlooked it? Seeing this is a LTS version I would thought it would be considered default. People who are going to use this will probably be serious users in the business sector (for the support on offrer) and one would think you are going to give them the most easy to use distro, yes, but also the most secure. I feel Fedora and SuSE is a bit better options on this front. Something Ubuntu developers should maybe consider looking into making a permanent feature?


This is a very solid and well supported distro, well worth the try, even in the business sector. The road to being rated the most popular distro on various forums and discussion boards across the Internet has not been without its hick-ups, but the Ubuntu forums are informative and the wiki is also well maintained to iron out any problems there might arise. There is also documentation, electronic and paperback, available and I would love seeing Ubuntu replacing Red Hat as the preferred choice for Linux courses at varsities and colleges.


No wonder people are speculating that Ubuntu is starting to take over where Red Hat failed in the business sector. You HAVE to try this distro, easily a 8,5/10.


I usually test a distro for a week or so, but under the circumstances and seeing that I have no Internet connection atm to try out more features, you will have to be satisfied with this very brief look into Ubuntu. I'll see if I can get a review of Fedora 6 up since I have it installed and have enjoyed testing it, just need a few screenshots to complement the review but I have trouble getting it to bot from the CD in the virtual environment. If nothing else works I'll have to borrow a few from Osdir.com.


Until next time, happy Linuxing!

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