I’ve been running the betas of the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx release for a few weeks now and it has been rock solid so it looks like the final release will be on target on or around the 29th April.
Visually, Ubuntu has never looked so good, the new ambience and radiance themes are a huge improvement over the old default brown and orange look, I’m using the dark ambience theme and it looks great out of the box.
Under the hood things are improved too, as well as all the usual updates to the latest versions of most packages Lucid also has a much faster boot time which will be great for laptops and the like and comes with Gnome 2.30 which has a lot of useful updates including a handy split view mode for the Nautilus file manager. There is also a new panel notification system and a new “Me Menu” to control instant messaging and social networking status. One big feature that is getting a lot of attention is the addition of libimobiledevice to provide easy interfacing with the iPhone and iPod devices. Watch the video here for a demonstration of what is possible with this and a few other tools. The most surprising thing about this to my mind is that it doesn’t require the iPhone/iPod to be jailbroken, an impressive feat and a most welcome update.
One somewhat controversial change has been the decision to move the window control buttons to the left hand side, the reason for this has been said to free up the space on the right for “something else” in the future, vague as that might be at the moment the reaction from a lot of people seems to have been a bit extreme; I found that I got used to it very quickly and it is only that way in the new themes and can be changed easily enough using gconf if it really bothers you that much. I’ve decided to leave them on the left.
The upgrade from 9.10 went smoothly as usual, I love how the upgrade procedure on Ubuntu is so robust now, I’ve been using Linux for a long time (since 1995) so I can remember when an full distribution upgrade was the over optimistic attempt you made before giving up and doing a fresh install! This system has been continually upgraded from a 8.04 KDE4 Remix installation right through 8.10, 9.04, 9.10 and finally 10.04 with all but zero issues along the way.
Lucid is an LTS (Long Term Support) release that will be supported until April 2013 on the desktop and April 2015 for the server edition so this is going to be a good one to upgrade to if you don’t do so regularly.