Installation And Applications
In Ubuntu 10.10, the installation process has undergone yet another overhaul--and not just for cosmetic reasons this time. Speed is also dramatically improved. We clocked ten and a half minutes from the time the 64-bit test system began to boot from the Ubuntu 10.10 USB install drive to the time we were up and running in a usable desktop installed onto the hard disk. This included downloading and installing updates and the restricted extras packages...during launch day traffic! Extra time is shaved off of the procedure by having the user choose system and account settings while the OS installs, as opposed to before. Installation begins immediately after choosing the partitioning scheme. The user is prompted to select their time zone, keyboard layout, user name, password, and login options as files are being copied to the hard drive.
While the options are mostly the same, we did notice one very welcome change on the user account setup screen. In Maverick Meerkat, the suggested computer name is now set to username-motherboard model, instead of username-desktop. This is a great way to eliminate confusion for users who own multiple PCs in the same network. This change was probably brought about to let Ubuntu One differentiate between different machines. In previous versions, users of multiple PCs would often end up with several systems named username-desktop in Ubuntu One, as well as their home network.
After setup options are chosen, the 'slides' that showcase Ubuntu's features, first introduced in Ubuntu 9.10, can be controlled by the user. In previous versions, one would have to sit patiently and watch the entire installation so as to not miss any of the slides. In 10.10, back and forward buttons on the left and right side (respectively) of the installation window allow you to take in these slides at your own pace.
Taking a cue from Fedora, Ubuntu now includes Shotwell as the default photo manager. Replacing F-Spot with Shotwell is a good call. F-Spot is a slow-loading application on older hardware, and its editing function totally lacks an undo tool, which in our opinion is unforgivable. Shotwell, on the other hand, springs to life almost instantly, even on netbooks. This application also sticks to its main purpose: photo management. If you're not replacing the GIMP, don't try to.
Besides getting a spiffy new icon, the seamless integration of Rhythmbox into the OS continues.
In Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Rhythmbox received the Ubuntu One Music Store, melding the playback and purchase of music into one application, like iTunes. In Ubuntu 10.10 Rhythmbox playback can be controlled via the sound menu in the upper panel.
Along with the volume slider, back, forward, pause, and play are also accessible right from Maverick's sound menu. Even album art is shown in this revamped tool.
We plugged a fourth-generation iPod Nano into the 64-bit test system. The portable music player was instantly detected and a prompt to open Rhythmbox appeared on-screen. Accessing the music stored on the iPod, syncing, and all other functions 'just worked,' right out-of-the-box.