Review: Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon (beta)
The biggest step forwards as far as I'm concerned is the improvement to the configuration of the X server. This means that you're now able to make changes to your display configuration without faffing around gediting your Xorg.conf file. This is a massive bonus for those new users who don't actually want to do things on a command line. As a "normal" user would expect, setting the screen resolution is a matter of clicks. Adding a second monitor is (theoretically) an easy process although I've not tried it myself.
"Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon is the next step in the long road towards mainstream acceptance"
Fast user switching? Sound familiar?
Ubuntu now has the ability to switch between users quickly (sound familar XP users?). This is handy because you don't need to close down the current session to change users - which is a useful feature for an XP replacement system. Nice attention Ubuntu devs, good work.
Gutsy is going to be the first Ubuntu release to ship with 3d effects installed by default and that's a nice touch. In my work as a web developer I always encounter the attitude of general users that "if it doesn't look good, it doesn't work well". Frustratingly enough you can have the most awesome webapp in the world but if it has no stylesheet, it may as well not work. I'm applying the same premise to Gutsy Gibbon - it's about time that the Ubuntu devs saw that however many "helpful" features you include, you'll never hit a mainstream market unless it is attractive enough to make it's patrons undress themselves in it's prescence.
Therefore it's a good step forwards to include Compiz-Fusion in the default package; a step that should pay off in the long run by bringing in the superficial crowd.
I'm not completely bowled over by the improvements made to the printing side of Ubuntu (as I don't actually ever print anything) but it should automatically detect and configure your print settings. However, an impressive introduction is the PDF printer (something I recommend most people to have anyway); meaning you can print your documents straight to PDF without installing third party applications. Printer support is a good place to spend development time though, as they are a common peripheral and lack of support is a common cause of frustration. Remember kids, if you want people to use it - it needs to be soul crushingly easy.
"There's no point me looking through Synaptic or connecting to my home network because I just know it'll work"
Tracker is Google desktop search for all intents and purposes. It's able to index meta data contained within your files, folders, everything. From the contents of your documents to the meta-data attached to your Audio files: tracker searches them all. If you've never used something like this I whole heartedly recommend you try it - I use Google desktop search quite a bit at work (excellent for finding those pesky files that you downloaded without any thought as to where they went).
As you can see in the above screenshot, I made a text file called "rawr" and wrote some text with the word "cringle" in it. I opened tracker and performed the search and true enough, almost instantly the results were back with my newly created file. Smashing stuff.
To be fair, this is Ubuntu as we've seen so many times before. There's no point me looking through Synaptic or connecting to my home network because I just know it'll work. I've been toying with Ubuntu since Breezy Badger so I've seen how things are progressing. It just works and the new set of features they're adding look to be logical (but they fail to excite me).
Gutsy Gibbon is a very sensible development - it's not overstretching itself by reaching for the stars; it's adding quality features that normal users need to survive. I find it hard to get excited over improved printing functionality but I fully accept the important role it plays in user acceptance. This beta release of Gutsy is good but I've seen it all before - Ubuntu is great and this is the next logical progression. Good work guys, it's looking like another winner.
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