Open Source

10 reasons you'll want to install Ubuntu 9.04

Ubuntu's most recent release offers numerous improvements over an already solid OS. In fact, Jack Wallen says it could be the best overall release of a Linux distribution he's ever seen.

Ubuntu's most recent release offers numerous improvements over an already solid OS. In fact, Jack Wallen says it could be the best overall release of a Linux distribution he's ever seen.


Ubuntu has brought Linux to the masses better than any other Linux distribution. And with its recent 9.04 release, Ubuntu has not only continued to create one of the most user-friendly operating systems available, it has made it faster and more reliable. Let's take a look to see if there is one (or 10) reasons to entice you to install Ubuntu 9.04. The following are in no certain order.

Note: This article is also available as a PDF download.

1: Ext 4 file system

Yes, it's still in development, and it's probably not wise to use on production systems, but what ext4 promises will be a real boon to enterprise-level computing (especially on the server end). With the ext4 file system, you will find support for volumes up to 1 exabyte and files sizes up to 16 terabytes. The ext4 file system also replaces traditional block mapping with extents. An extent is a range of single, contiguous physical blocks, which will improve performance for large files as well as reduce fragmentation. Another ext4 feature that will be of interest for enterprise-level needs is that it breaks the 32,000 subdirectory barrier found in ext3. With ext4, a directory can now hold 64,000 subdirectories. Finally, ext4 employs checksums to improve the reliability of journals. Not only will this improve reliability, it will also avoid disk I/O during the journaling process, providing a slight boost to performance.

2: GNOME 2.26.1

This is the first update to the 2.26 release of GNOME, and the bug fixes are aplenty. Most notable fixes for the desktop are for GNOME Desktop Core, Nautilus (file manager), Brasero (CD Burning suite), Evolution (groupware suite), GNOME Panel, Glib, and gtk+. After about a week's worth of use, I can safely say this is probably the most stable, useful GNOME I have experienced. It was also helpful that Ubuntu did a bit of tweaking to the standard GNOME menu layout. Many of the changes won't be immediately apparent, but will be noticed over time as you use various features. One nice improvement is placing the logout button outside the menu system and making it a panel button. Now logging out, restarting, or shutting down is as simple as a button click. Another outstanding new feature is MAPI support in Evolution.

3: Speed

Ubuntu 9.04 shows a marked improvement in both the boot process and the desktop. The biggest improvement is with the boot process. I have noticed the boot process of machines running 9.04 cut at least in half. The desktop has also enjoyed a boost in speed, with applications starting up in a fraction of their usual times. Most notable are startup times for OpenOffice and Firefox.

4: Cleanup Janitor

This new feature allows users to remove junk from their system to save space. Cleanup Janitor cleans up packages that were installed to meet dependencies but that are no longer needed, packages that are no longer supported, and configuration tweaks that are missing from the system. This utility will automatically find anything on your system that is not needed and give you the option to either remove it or fix it. You will find that a fresh installation won't have much cruft (if any). But Cleanup Janitor will become useful over time when applications leave enough behind to pile up and take up space.

5: Nautilus encryption

This is one outstanding feature that was built into the Nautilus file manager. From within any directory (that you have permissions to act upon), you can right-click a file (or directory) and you will see two new menu entries: Encrypt and Sign. Of course, you'll have to have a key generated to use either of these menu entries. Fortunately for those users new to encryption, an outstanding GUI for that very purpose is included with Ubuntu 9.04. Once a key is generated, a user can encrypt and/or sign directories and files with a simple right-click from within Nautilus.

6: Xorg 1.6

With the inclusion of 1.6, more video cards will find support from Ubuntu. ATI video cards will enjoy EXA acceleration by default, R6xx and R7xx cards will have 2D support, R5xx cards will have 3D support, and an updated (albeit proprietary) fglrx driver offers R6xx/R7xx 3D support. NVidia cards will no longer need to install a proprietary driver, thanks to the Nouveau drivers. Much time has been put into reverse engineering these drivers so that users of NVidia can enjoy outstanding performance and features while still enjoying open source drivers. You will also find much improved multi-monitor support.

7: Notifications and system messages

One of the nits to be picked in past releases was that notifications and system messages seemed to be done by many people, which lead to an inconsistent feel. Ubuntu now has a unified notification system. This system combines the notifications of all applications into a single interface. This also includes new, unified icons for notifications. This will keep the notification area much cleaner than prior releases.

8: Native ARM support

This is going to be a real boon for those who own or plan to release mid to low-end ARM-based netbooks. It's especially interesting since Freescale is planning the release of an ARM-based sub-$200 netbook within the year. You may have an ARM-based PC or netbook lying around just waiting to be given new life. If so, Ubuntu 9.04 is what you need. If you don't have an ARM-based netbook handy, rest assured that soon, ARM-based netbooks will hit the shelves. When they do, you'll be ready with Ubuntu.

9: Better menu layout

I mentioned this briefly, but it deserves much more attention. One of the issues that can hinder a good user experience on a desktop is intuitive menus. GNOME has come a long way with this, but it needed a little help from Ubuntu. Now the default GNOME menu system makes perfect sense. Everything is not only where you think it should be, it's all easy to navigate. Even some of the OpenOffice components are split out of the Office menu (one example is OpenOffice Draw, now on the Graphics menu.) I was never a huge GNOME fan, but I have to say with regard to menu layout, it's the best of the best.

10: Better wireless support

Much of this comes thanks to the 2.6.28 kernel, where a more feature-rich wireless stack has been worked in. The wireless in the kernel also has a farther reaching support for wireless devices. Thankfully, this will translate to fewer users having to install drivers to get their wireless NICs and cards to work.

Reason enough...

Those are 10 solid reasons to give Ubuntu 9.04 a try. Is it perfect? No, but what operating system is? I can happily say, however, that 9.04 might be the strongest overall release of a Linux distribution I have seen to date.

Have you experienced 9.04? If so, share what you have found with your fellow TechRepublic readers.


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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

37 comments
bricar2
bricar2

It broke mine. Just a minor inconvenience, but I wish I had read about the changes beforehand.

hasnain.saleem
hasnain.saleem

I have been using Ubuntu since 8.10 days on an old Acer Extensa 6601 Laptop (that came bundled with Windows XP). It's been around a few months, and I have upgraded to Ubuntu 9.04. It is feature rich, works out of the box, free from virus scares, and even my Dad can find his way around the system. It's easier to learn Linux/GNOME UI when you unlearn all your Windows lessons :) Speed, stability, periodic updates and the amazing range of downloadable software are what keep me hooked on to Ubuntu 9.04!

gladone
gladone

I tried it on two different machines. One was running XP and when I booted the CD the keyboard would not work at all. This is a normal PC with a normal PS2 keyboard. The other is running W2K3 X64. It installed but when it reboot reported GRUB error 21.

inertman
inertman

proper bluetooth support? i haven't loaded 9.04 yet, still muckin about w/ getting my other os's in order. but so far, from 4 to now, i've never been able to use my bluetooth desktop. all the support in the world doesn't help if everytime the system goes into standby, i have to getout a usb set-up to re-set-up/pair my bluetooth. perfectly willing to try all this 'wonderful world of linux' out, but there's a limit to my patience...

donran
donran

I have recently upgraded from Ubuntu 8.10 to Ubuntu 9.04 online and found a significant difference with Ubuntu 9.04 compared to Ubuntu 8.10. I run 4 OS's in my desktop PC and I use Ubuntu as my main OS with AVG Antivirus and Firestarter firewall installed into Ubuntu 9.04, mainly for security reasons. I have seen many vulnerabilities in other OS's I use and I found Ubuntu 9.04 provides a very hard core kernal to overcome these vulnerabilities. Hope other users of Ubuntu 9.04 think the same as I do. All my external hardware printer, scanner, webcam works very well with Ubuntu 9.04.

iaschi.david
iaschi.david

And one reason not to upgrade: if your system run on RAID 1 with mdadm, after upgrading you will be in a busy box and messing around with mdadm conf files... as per Bug #330298 https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/mdadm/+bug/330298 With all problems on RAID 1 coming from 7.10 to 8.10 (passing from 8.04 - to be skipped because of known problem with mdadm) now we have still problems. It seems Ubuntu does not care for users with RAID disks...

y2ksurfin
y2ksurfin

I think the biggest reason to install Ubuntu 9.04 is it brings new life to old hardware. Runds great on an old Fujitsu 500mhz sytem and loads all of its strange drivers automatically. Course it really kicks on my AMD64 Dual 6000. As one of the original contributers to RBBS (whats that??) and with my little consulting company named Penguin Automation. I will tell you Linux has come a long way scince the early slackware days. This stuff is ready for the masses and I for one am an unofficial Ubuntu and its derivates evangelist. While Microsoft seems to keep going backward with Vista and the unbelivable 900+mb updates beyond a service pack 3 load when office is present. The only real hold microsoft has left is the office product. I should probably not talk like this, I am a Microsoft business partner. My hats off to every one of the contributers of this very very fine release.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

Was this a 64-bit install? I would think that some of those maximums would be out of range for a 32-bit installation. I like the idea for the cleanup manager -- how well does it work (and how easy is it)? Is it just more or less like the system cleanup in WIN, where there is still a lot of cr@p left even afterwards? in XP and Vista, I use a batch file to take care of cr@p that System Cleanup does not do, and then call the system cleanup program to finish off. lol Overall, I think I am enthused enough about it now to give it a try (that and I have a bunch of notebooks here that just got wiped, and are almost ready to recycle -- Might just need to keep a few around now :) )

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

I was unaware of the EXT4 inclusion. Do you know if its a default or just an option? And I assume you can "upgrade" an existing ext3 to ext4 without data loss? (I know, back up anyway).

jim.jergins
jim.jergins

I for one would like to see Linux or just Ubuntu get an installer package. Linus Torvalds keeps saying that his original dream for Linux is to make it as a desktop OS. If there was an equivalent to the Microsoft's msi installer packages I for one would consider Ubuntu and other distros more seriously as desktop OS contender if this were to happen.

Four-Eyes
Four-Eyes

Just waiting for Lovey to pop up somewhere and copy-paste his usual negative statements about Linux... NOT! :P

andrew.beals
andrew.beals

Also, the wifi support now quickly signs on to your local AP within tens of seconds, as opposed to Xandros' multi-minute torture.

richard.austin
richard.austin

I can think of 2 excellent reasons to install Ubuntu: 1) It works 2) It's fast I'm not a Linux evangelist by the way. I dual boot Ubuntu / XP. Ubuntu is ready to use in well under a minute. XP takes about 5-6 minutes. Ubuntu does exactly what I want and quickly. Windows breaks a lot. My wife loves how fast Ubuntu is as well - and the cute Penquins! GRIPE: I haven't come across a really good Dev' System that compares with .Net (only really great product MS have ever done in my opinion).

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

1. Ext4, still experimental and developmental as you said. 2. Gnome 2.26.1, have you noticed two important things? The first is that you can no longer switch users; irritates the he!! out of me because I am used to switching to root while logged in for administration because I disable sudo and remove it. The second can be even worse if the X server crashes - no "cntrl-alt-bkspc" to kill the X server. Just wait until X crashes and you need it. However, 'X kill' can be enabled. 3. Speed, yep. It is faster than 8.04 and 8.10, but not up to Debian, Slackware, or Windows speed, nor even 7.10 speed. 4. Clean up Janitor, get back with you when I have broken packages; so far it failed to detect a broken package when I attempted to compile Pulse Audio 9.15 and checkinstall failed. 5. Nautilus encryption. Have not used. 6. Xorg 1.6. Yes it did detect my Nvidia 8400, no it could not enable 2d or 3d acceleration; I had to use proprietary drivers. 7. Notifications, etc., not configurable. 8. Native ARM support. Do not need and cannot comment. 9. Better Menu layout. Maybe, that is in the eye of the user. 10. Better wireless support. Not in my experience. To get my Broadcom 4323 working I had to uninstall the proprietary driver and reinstall it. Now the bad news: The install, at least from the iso I dl'd, is inconsistent; sometimes it works properly, sometimes not (no hardware problems).I still cannot get my internal microphone working. The mute button is inconsistent, at least on my HP dv9700. 9.04 installs aparmour by default. So far, the keyring fails to remember authorizations within a reasonable time within a session. Many of the packages in the repositories are not current. Pulse Audio sometimes does not play nice with realtime (just say that you need jackd in realtime). I'm certain I will find other things in the future; my bad, I mistakenly thought it to be the LTS, have to wait until 9.1 for that.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

Let's see what's really in the BIOS.

C_Zakalwe
C_Zakalwe

Thanks, Jack - this is the kind of fact-filled article that I can use! Please do more of these and less of the oorah cheerleader stuff. Today's thought: "The Abyss stared into me and all I got was this lousy t-shirt ..."

tom1_s
tom1_s

I recently installed Ubuntu side by side with Windows XP and am very impressed with Ubuntu. However, I don't much like the OS boot option screen at the start. It reminds me of the old days of DOS! Does anyone know of a nice GUI boot option application? (preferably free like Ubuntu!)

tom1_s
tom1_s

I've no idea what error 21 means but I got it as well when I first tried installing Ubuntu beside Windows XP. The installation program refused to acknowledge Windows existence. I eventually got around it by re-formatting my hard disk, dividing it into two partitions,re-installing Windows XP from scratch on the active Primary partition, and then installing Ubuntu. A bit draconian and took ages but it works now!

jhnhth
jhnhth

Hi, first off, I know nothing about Linux - only Microsh##. Reading about this new whizz bang OS and wondering about dipping my toe in the water and having a play to see what it's all about. I have an ancient (10 years old) Compaq 1920 laptop (Win98SE, 512 ram, 20gb HDD)sitting in the cupboard. Have downloaded the ISO and need to burn a CD. Do I need to wipe and reformat the laptop first? Would be grateful for any help or info about installing and loading up apps like firefox etc. Can be contacted offlist at ozguy at graffiti dot net

restoh
restoh

Hey, man! Where u at? If the price is right( or if you're getting rid of them for free ), I'd like a couple of those laptops. :-)

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

are just tools for installing and managing the Debian style packages (.DEB) on a system. Think of this part as Add/Remove Programs on steroids. A .DEB is pretty much the same as an MS .MSI. You can install a .deb by double clicking it and running it with file installer, much like a .msi and Windows installer.

DHCDBD
DHCDBD

There are installer packages for some versions of Linux. Debian based distro's use .deb's and Fedora/RedHat/Suse distro's use .rpms, I am not sure what Mandriva uses, Slackware even has an installer package. Alien can be used to convert from one installer package to the other - sometimes reliably, sometimes not. With Debian based distro's you can use checkinstall to install a compiled program and convert it to a Debian package so that it can later be removed with Synaptic or dpkg.

sonicsteve
sonicsteve

Typically I've made a practice of waiting a few months before upgrading with any linux. Or windows for that matter. However this time I had a spare laptop to play with so I tried it out. It was a 1.5ghz centrino, 512mb, 80gb, intel graphics. It ran so well I then tried it on my main laptop as the live CD. It ran perfectly also, so then onto my desktop. Each of these systems are very unique and have had no issues and all the apps I expect to find are working without trouble also. Each PC boots faster. The only exception I've found is my office workstation. It has intel 945g graphics, and it had major performance issues. I found a thread that reverted the driver back to the Intrepid driver and now performance is mostly back to normal. I will say that I'm surprised that the developers released 9.04 with such a major bug to a major graphics chip being used by millions of computers. It's been the best Release of Ubuntu that I've used so far, I started out learning and testing with 5.10 which impressed me then.

Jaqui
Jaqui

if you can handle the so-called bios Apple uses. http://www.openfirmware.org/ so-called, because it requires hard drive partitions for each and every device you may want to boot from. one partition for cdrom, one for usb, one for hard drive, one for floppy ...

bobc4012
bobc4012

I have used Ubuntu since 6.10. I have consistently encountered 2 problems. 1. I run Ubuntu (Wubi) in a Win. XP directory on my desktop. If I choose to "upgrade" from the Update Manager (New distrib. release avail.), it has assumed Ubuntu owns the HD and wipes the Win. Boot records and I can no longer boot either system. I need to get the Win. XP CD and run "fixmbr" abd "fixboot" in order to be able to boot. This has happened on 3 of the Ubuntu releases I have upgraded, After being burnt (I "upgrade" every release and am currently on 8.10), I now save my files and re-install Ubuntu (Wubi) from scratch. 2. I also have an ACER laptop with one partition running XP and have a Ubuntu (Wubi) install in a Win. directory in the second partition (which also includes certain lap-top vendor files - Win. Recovery files are in a third, small, hidden partition). Fortunately, I back up my data files that I wish to save. gain, every "upgrade, via the "Upgrade Manager) wipes out every thing and re-installs that release of Ubuntu (fortunately, it does not affect the Win. MBR and boot records, as described above). Running from the CD does not seem to provide any option to "upgrade" an existing system. At least not any readily apparent option. I also have a Toshiba lap-top which is totally dedicated to Ubuntu. I have not had any "upgrade" problems with it, however I have not been able to get it to support either of my two Netgear wireless cards - one a 111 and the other a 511. I did have the the 111 work a couple of times on Rel 8.01. The wired connection does not have a problem. I also have an old Lexmark Z600 (USB) Printer which works on both the desktop and the ACER (after installing some driver support I found), but refuses to cooperate on the Toshiba. Unfortunately, searching the forums and blogs produces very little. I have seen some of those problems raised by one or two others, but usually there is no answer or, more typically, a BS answer. Occasionally, I have found a good answer to a problem, but that seems to be a rare occurrence. At least through 8.10, Ubuntu has a long road to haul to really take on Windows. I really don't see the abovee 10 points making any significant break-throughs.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Has anybody upgraded an Eee PC 701 yet? Does it still have support for Wubi? There is some other new trick that actually runs Ubuntu and apps "semi-native" in the Windows desktop. I was going to look into it and forgot. Is that supported on 9.04? I can't remember the name of that app. I'm wondering about the value-add of ARM support. So, I can run it on my vintage 2002 HP hpc? :) So far, all of the ARM netbooks have been completely underwhelming, especially with Atom based netbooks running not much more expensive. And, I haven't noticed any incredible delays in launching applications on an Atom in 8.10 (Maybe Firefox, but if so, I've been blaming Firefox, not Ubuntu), I can't imagine that the speed increase loading an app is going to make a difference to MOST users. Moving the Open Office apps to "more logical" folders sounds counter-intuitive to me. A stand alone graphics program should go with the other graphics programs, a productivity suite should all be grouped together. I can't imagine if they moved all of the MS-Office apps to different locations, what the uproar would be. This one sounds like it will be met with mixed opinion, at best.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

In which case it probably wasn't The Abyss.

Not The One
Not The One

I installed it a few weeks ago and didn't like it. -Seems archaic. Reminds of Windows 2000 or even 98. -Not as snappy as I thought it should given the GUI looks dated. Made me appreciate my XP 'cause it's faster and looks better. -Does not have Safe Mode. Or a decent recovery mode. At least not one that was easy. I managed to get into the command line using the lacking recover function. But, how the heck was I suppose to know the stinkin' command lines. Oh, the reason I needed to get into Safe/Recover mode was I installed one of the updates and Ubuntu would not boot up. It would freeze displaying dos screen with some I/O fatal error or something. nVidia driver I think was the culprit. But, for the life of me, I couldn't get to where I needed to uninstall. -Does not have ability to boot from last good config. see above for reason. Experiences like this gives reason why Windows is on top of the food chain. And, it'll be a while before Linux'ish or Macs will ever topple them. Make no mistake, I want Windows to get hit. I want either Linux or Mac to reel them in. Microsoft is too arrogant and therefore does not listen. So, I want somebody to hurt 'em.

y2ksurfin
y2ksurfin

I would try the Ubuntu live first. I would also download and try Knoppix. Personally I love Ubuntu but my Fujitsu 500mhz 30 gig 192 megs of ram runs very well on KNOPPIX. Again try them both live and load the one you want to keep and run faster by letting it take the entire hard drive. If you need at anytime to wipe partitions etc. GPARTED Live ISO does a great job and will boot up your system and alow you to partition repartition or delete partitions. Just incase you make a mistake. Have fun.

gsaluno
gsaluno

Well, for as long as we are talking about Ubuntu, if you need to try it in an old computer and it is fear may not fly well, you can try other Ubuntu distros with lighter window managers like Xubuntu.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

and have plenty of apps to start (already installed when the OS installs). My personal preference has been to use a KDE 3 distro, and on that PCLinuxOS. However, yesterday I installed and started playing with Ubuntu 9 on the gnome desktop, and I have to say, so far, I think I like it. However, to answer your questions. Many Linux distros have Live disks to boot from. This means that you DO NOT need to wipe your drive, or install it to test it out. You do not need to do anything except boot to the cd. What this does is gives you a chance to test drive the distro. It will not write to your hard drive, unless you specifically tell it to. There should be no accidental data loss or anything. Also, it allows you to see if your hardware is compatible with the distro. I suggest to go ahead and try it, see what you are getting. If you do not like Ubuntu 9 (Gnome), try PCLinuxOS (KDE3), or Mandriva 09 (KDE4), or a host of other distro's out there. Everyone is different in their preferences, which is 1 reason why there are a lot of distro's out there. If you do not like the layout of Gnome, try KDE. If you do not like either, there are even other desktop managers out there.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Been a few since I installed ubuntu, but a bunch of apps install with the OS. OpenOffice.org installs. A web browser installs also, but I don't remember whether or not I had to go get FF. Explore your menus once it's installed. 7.0? had popup tool tips that briefly described menu items. Ubuntu's got several easy to use options for gathering new apps.

ThumbsUp2
ThumbsUp2

You can either wipe the drive or just delete the partitions, but don't format it. The Ubuntu install will prepare the drive the way it needs to be prepared.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

cant even keep one for myself. They all need to be plugged into the domain every 30 days or I get notices that they need to be connected or sent back.

jim.jergins
jim.jergins

I have used Ubuntu and fedora to do a few tasks but I always had a very dificult time working with installers. Maybe I need to revisit these to see how much they have changed. Thanks for the info :)

p852pck
p852pck

It installed the previous release of Ubuntu and OpenOffice 2.4. used second hand nvidia drivers. Originally could only get 800x600. When the new release came out it updated flawlessly, updated Openoffice to 3.0 and now I get higher res graphics with my motherboard, I leave it at 1024x768 but now have two higher res options. I loved the way wubi didn't screw with my windows at all. Though I do notice that it is better to log off windows and shut down fully than to just do a reatart. just my opining that it seems cleaner

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

An Abyss. It sort of runs the PR campaign, marketing, and merchandising for THE Abyss iirc.

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