Taking Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin for a spin
It’s been about 2 weeks since Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) has been released and I figured it was about time to take it for a spin. I reformatted my Dell Latitude E4200 (which was running Linux Mint 12 KDE) and installed the 64 bit desktop edition. I thought I was done with this entire Unity/Gnome 3 debacle and off to KDE forever, turns out that might have been premature.
One other small feature that I like is the Title Bar. In the screen shots you’ll notice that Title Bar of the applications has actually been properly integrated into the top status bar. You might inquire as to where the file menu has gone. Well, if you mouse over the title, it appears in the Status Bar (over the title) along with the Maximize/Minimize/Close icons. It’s very smooth and I must say that I like this space saving feature. It’s not a big deal on a desktop with a 24″ LCD running 1920×1080, but on my E4200 which only has an 11″ screen (1280×800) those little touches help a lot.
Ubuntu Software Center (App Store)
I wanted to talk about the System Settings as its own section because I think it’s important to new users. The look and feel of the System Settings is very reminiscent of OSX’s settings – in a good way. Many of the common settings you might look for are very intuitive to find. If you want to change the Desktop, that’s under appearance. As it happens, so is the setting to turn on the auto-hide of the Launcher (with a nice big on/off flip switch). In case you don’t know where the setting you want is located, you can search for it from the main System Settings screen and it will filter your options (like OSX).
They also threw in two “settings” that really made me happy. The first is “Privacy”. If you browse to an adult site on your browser, you can tell your browser to forget its history. That’s great, but what happens when you download and open adult material? In most OSs it will show up in your recent file history. With Ubuntu Privacy you can erase the records of your recently opened files and applications. You can even setup the OS to not record certain types of information (like say your NSFW instant messages). Now I’m not saying this is “Porn mode” for your Operating System, though it is the easiest example to use. There are plenty of legit uses too (e.g. don’t want your S.O. to know about the surprise birthday part you are throwing for them).The second item that excites me is Backup. There is now a VERY easy to use tool to enable backups for your Ubuntu based machine. By default it will backup your files once a week to a location on your hard drive (just in case you delete something) – all it takes is a click on a big toggle switch. Though you have the option of also backing up to: Ubuntu One, FTP, SSH, WebDAV, Windows Share, and other Custom Locations. In my case I decided to use WebDAV and tie it to my Box.net account and I changed the backup frequency to daily. If you’re running on a laptop and the machine is off/asleep during backup time – then it will backup next time the machine is on. The backups are even protected by GPG (if you want). The backup software is only slightly more involved than OSX’s, but still very simple and so far quite powerful. It, however, does not give you the easy restore view of OSX Time Machine since it is not integrated into the core of the operating system. Restores are just a few clicks away though.
It’s pretty, it works, it’s easy to use.. I really can’t find anything major to complain about, which (as frequent readers know) is saying something.