Posted on Wednesday 28th of March 2007 at 13:54 in Linux

Review of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn (Alpha 5) for new users

In the same way I revisited PCLinuxOS2007 beta 2 recently using my new methods of reviewing distros I'm returning to this Alpha 5 release of Ubuntu Feisty Fawn.

As covered previously, I review distros from an XP user's point of view because this is what I am primarily and I think it's important to evaluate exciting releases such as this one in this light. There are hundreds of people more qualified than me to explain what makes Ubuntu a good distro for Linux users but I am more interested in how these new releases make life easy for users who are used to Windows and assume Linux is just "a big headache".

Ubuntu is the poster child of usable Linux and it's looking like Feisty Fawn is only going to hammer that flag deeper into the landscape

So let's begin. The first step in the review was to obtain an Internet connection and retrieve a video file from my home network - this was done as simply as ever. Ubuntu picked up my ADSL connection in seconds and through the Synaptic Package Manager downloaded GFTP (an FTP client of choice) to connect to my home FTP server. I downloaded a video of Family Guy directly to my desktop (as per the PCLinuxOS review).

How hard was it to get a DVD-ripped video to play?
This is where Feisty was always going to gain bonus points because it's been openly discussed that codecs will be downloaded when needed. I double clicked on the Family Guy episode and it didn't play... But I was presented with the screen below:

Ubuntu finding codecs

So without issue Feisty informed me the video wouldn't play, isolated the missing codec and provided me with a couple of downloads. Within a minute the situation was resolved - the codecs were downloaded and Family Guy was playing as it would in XP.

family guy playing

As I said when reviewing PCLinuxOS - it's important for users moving from Windows that media playback is as simple as possible in Linux because you *expect* it to be hard. However, both PCLOS and Ubuntu have impressed me by making video playback easier than it is on a fresh install of XP. So that's a big tick for Ubuntu then.

After Ubuntu breezed through media playback, it's not shocking everything else "just worked"

Browsing the Internet, listening to MP3's, watching videos - Feisty (Alpha 5) strolled through the tasks like (as I suspect it was) built for them. The average computer user wants around this level of functionality with no fuss - and there was less fuss here than there is in XP and that's no bad thing at all.

I still find it amazing how free software can be this good

Playing with the system, downloading and installing packages, browsing the Internet and generally the whole look and feel of Ubuntu give across a well-rounded feel. It's well made and the quality shines through - of course it's open to interpretation whether you prefer KDE or Gnome but I personally think that this distro will help Ubuntu fight for it's right to remain the poster child. I feel that PCLOS will put up a good battle so Ubuntu needs to be ready.

Overall, I've been very impressed with how simple Ubuntu makes things. It's less "out of the box" than PCLOS because there's simply less installed to begin with - not that this is a problem of course when you can browse through Synaptic. A really good distro that I would really find difficult to not recommend to a new user. Of course, we'll see what the final release is like but it's looking promising. Ubuntu has a massive number of followers and if you can't see why from doing what I've just done - then maybe you need help (or a Mac -joke).


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