Posted on Sunday 11th of March 2007 at 13:50 in Linux

Review of Ubuntu 7.04 Alpha 5 (Feisty Fawn)

There's a lot of exciting things going on in the world of Linux distros and while browsing for alternatives to (K)Ubuntu I stumbled across PCLinuxOS. While discussing my new found love for PCLOS I decided that I shouldn't forget the distro that seems to have started it all - Ubuntu. Feisty Fawn is looking to be an excitingly large step in the right direction so I decided to download the Alpha5 and give it a whirl. (This Herd 5 release was made available March 1st).

What I'm looking at
As with my other reviews and articles I focus primarily on usability and intuitiveness because functionality is entirely scalable on most Linux distributions. I aim to help evaluate how easy the distro is from a Windows user's point of view.

From a Windows users' POV?
It may seem slightly odd but there's plenty of logic behind it. Everyone is excited that this could be the year of a massive platform migration and as a native Windows user I'm in as good a position as anyone else to discuss how easy I find each option. It's important for user interfaces to be intuitive and increasingly little reliance on difficult to remember terminal commands.

Ubuntu


Ubuntu is the poster child of popular Linux at the moment and rightfully so on the most part and while I feel KDE is more intuitive there's still a lot to be said for this popular distro.

Initial thoughts and installation
The live environment seems very much business as usual and the entire installation process is logical and familiar. Certainly if you've used Dapper then you won't be seeing much new but if you're an XP convert you'll also find things a breeze. Selecting language options etc is a nice and simple experience - not too distant from any other Operating System but the concept of managing partitions is still strongly evident in these Linux installs. Ubuntu handles a lot of the decision making for you which is good but if you're doing anything clever (dual booting for example) then you're likely to need to read up on the process beforehand because it's still not foolproof.

The rest of the installation process is nice and simple, reboot the machine and you'll find yourself in the full environment.

Aesthetics
It's Ubuntu as you'd expect in this Alpha release so things are looking largely the same as they were in Dapper. Here's a nice video of what you can expect aesthetically in Feisty Fawn.





It's a nice clean interface but nothing beyond what I've come to expect from Dapper - I do like having an "Enable Desktop Effects" button though, that is a nice thing to have.

So is it better than Dapper?
Well all the engine changes aside it's a step in the right direction but it's still (on the surface) very much like Dapper Drake. The interface is unchanged (well, it is Gnome after all) and I personally find KDE easier to use. Don't let me leave you thinking that my last point is a BAD thing, because that was one of the original strengths of Ubuntu in the first place; having a nice clean interface. It's about as obvious as it's going to get in my opinion - there's very little they can actually do to structure the UI in a better way. Kudos to the team for this.

feisty installation feisty installation

Is Feisty Fawn going to be worth it?
Yes, I can say that it will be. New revisions of Ubuntu aren't ever going to be "not worth it" because it can't fail (as far as I see). It has such a strong community behind it and a very strong development team; clearly it is the main contender for the most popular (consumer) Linux distribution. It's clear to see from the Distrowatch "Page Hit Ranking" that Ubuntu is a popular beast.

Don't forget EasyUbuntu
You can't afford to be an Ubuntu user without EasyUbuntu - a script that gives you the most commonly used applications, codecs and tweaks in one simple step. Install Ubuntu and wham this script on there and you're good to go - I can't recommend this enough.

feisty feisty

Would I recommend Ubuntu?
Yes I would, but primarily for the support and community around it - I personally think PCLinuxOS 2007 is the more confident, competent and intuitive distro. What Ubuntu has in terms of support is enviable for the alternatives, the community (UbuntuForums.org) is a bustling torrent of information and assistance that alternatives will find hard to compete with. Don't get me wrong, PCLOS has an excellent community but because Ubuntu is the current poster-child there are a lot of users on it and for the "new" Linux user that is a massive advantage.

Conclusions
feisty Ubuntu 7.04 Herd 5 is a good look into what to expect from the upcoming release from (arguably) the most popular distro on the planet and
it seems to be making steps in the right direction, but I can't help but think that more good can be found with PCLOS or Mepis. It's
absolutely worth a look and probably the best starting point for users fresh from XP due to sheer size of the community. So it's worth a
look but it's probably not worth existing Ubuntu users abandoning their LTS Dapper release for.

UPDATE
References to Dapper without mention of the LTS means I was probably thinking of Edgy Eft, so apologies for making things confusing.

 

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