Ubuntu

Ubuntu 13.10: It just works

Find out why Jack Wallen thinks that Ubuntu 13.10 is a solid, reliable platform that just works. Do you agree?

ubuntu-13-10-saucy-salamander.jpg

I've been using Ubuntu for a very long time. I was one of the few in the media who adopted Unity as my primary desktop interface. In fact, I've grown so used to Unity that I have trouble finding any form of efficiency in other desktops. So, naturally, when a new Ubuntu release is about to be unleashed upon the world, I grab a beta and install it.

The hype surrounding the upcoming 13.10 (Saucy Salamander) was fairly significant. Leading this charge was the much-anticipated switch to Xmir. Well, thanks to a few show-stopping issues (such as dual-monitor support), Xmir has been pushed back to 14.04. Is this a big deal? Yes and no. Yes, because Xmir will be a major change to the sub-systems of Ubuntu. No, because Xmir must be faultless when released -- otherwise, the backlash will knock Canonical back so far in the past that they'll have a hard time recovering in the eyes of the Linux community.

Beyond Xmir, the biggest change from .04 to .10 is the much-maligned inclusion of Smart Scopes. What are Smart Scopes? Let me explain it in the simplest terms as possible.

When you open your browser and begin typing a string of characters, you know how that browser will make suggestions for you based on search terms, location, and history? Smart Scopes brings that same functionality to the desktop. I've run some tests on it, and it's pretty incredible. Search for nearly anything, and it will return results based on a number of criteria. Want to know the location of a restaurant in your area? I conducted a search for my favorite Mexican restaurant, Bazos, and an entry appeared in Smart Scopes (Figure A). Click the entry to get the address or open that entry in a web browser to get more information (and even reviews).

Figure A

Figure A
My favorite place to eat listed in Smart Scopes.

I get it, there are people out there suffering from apoplectic fits of terror because Smart Scopes is an invasion of privacy. This is no different than what your web browser is doing. So, unless you constantly run your web browser in Incognito mode, all those search strings are saved and compared anyway. And the truth is, why wouldn't you want your search results based on your preferences and behavior instead of some generic algorithm? Personally, I don't mind my search results being quantified and qualified, so long as it constantly refines the search results based on my needs.

Smart Scopes isn't limited to seeking out search results from the network. You'll be happily searching for anything and everything on your local (or locally attached) drives as well. With this inclusion, Smart Scopes becomes one of the single most powerful search tools available.

Of course, if you don't like Smart Scopes, you can turn them off. Here's how:

  1. Click the Settings launcher
  2. Select Security & Privacy
  3. In the Search tab, turn Include online search results to Off (Figure B)

Figure B

Figure B
It's easy to turn off the Smart Scopes feature.

With all of that said, let's step away from the arguments for or against search privacy and let me explain exactly why Ubuntu 13.10 is the perfect desktop for nearly any user.

The install was fresh from the latest daily build. During the installation, I included third-party software, updates, and was even able to authenticated to my UbuntuOne account. The install was incredibly simple (as most modern Linux distributions are), and at first login, everything was smooth.

What initially struck me about Ubuntu 13.10 is how everything worked out of the box. There was no need to install codecs to listen or view various multi-media files, flash worked, and everything was ready for average, daily computer use. You could work on office documents, set up your email account... you name it. But that has become the standard operating procedure for Ubuntu. 

So, what's different? Honestly, not much. However, what little difference there is should go a long way with the average user. Probably the single most important thing I've found is that a lot of the little quirks and oddities are gone. There are no longer any strange errors that randomly pop up to cause confusion and disdain among new users. Windows don't artifact or stall, the Dash is very responsive (as is Smart Scopes), and the compositing is smooth and effortless against your CPU. Also, the bug is resolved that plagued the Dash when trying to use the arrow keys to navigate through search results.

Ubuntu 13.10 just works

I would go as far to say that Ubuntu has done to the desktop what Apple did with hardware/software -- it developed a clean, solid convergence of pieces to create a cohesive whole. Although that whole has ruffled some feathers, Ubuntu 13.10 should go a long way to smooth them out. How is that possible, considering how many users have turned their back (thanks to the Wayland kerfuffle)? 

Outside of Smart Scopes, there are no major changes. There's little excitement on the desktop -- it's still the same old look and feel. Oh sure, there are tiny tweaks here and there, but overall, 13.10 and 13.04 look the same at first blush. Under the hood? Same thing. You'll find a new kernel (3.11) and a few other tweaks, but nothing to cause the cheerleaders of the world to frustratingly toss their pompoms in the air.

Instead, Ubuntu 13.10 is a refinement of something that was already there and polished. There are no show stopping or curtain call worthy new features --  just countless tweaks here and there that make the whole system run smooth and fast.

The final release of Saucy Salamander is set for October 17, 2013. You can get a copy of the daily build or wait for the release date. Either way, you're going to get a solid, reliable platform that just works.

What are your thoughts about Saucy Salamander? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.


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.

51 comments
ColumG
ColumG

ColumG: Experiencing issues with Bluetooth on Ubuntu 13.10 64-bit. Wont support properly A2DP profile

                  for decent quality audio to Bluetooth headphones. So at least this feature is broken out of the box !
                  Can sometimes get it to work with issuing command "pulseaudio -k" and refreshing services
                  using Blueman, but result are inconsistent between two PC's running Ubuntu 13.10
                  IBM ThinkPad T61p + Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pa3553. these kinds of basic features should
                  work out of the box to avoid aggravation to users. Otherwise pretty satisfied.
RubyCoder
RubyCoder

Installing 13.10 on my Samsung laptop with Windows 7 has been IMPOSSIBLE.  No problem doing the same with my (slowly dying) old  Dell 1545.  I sure wish I could try 13.10 on a modern  quad-core machine, but so far, no joy.  It'd be nice to try the latest-and-greatest on something other than junk...

rykellim
rykellim

Ubuntu 13.10 is broken right out of the box. For example, the Software Centre links for Codecs on OMG! Ubuntu will bring up an empty dialog box in Firefox. Not to mention that my favourite Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard K810 cannot even be paired with 13.10. Then there was the total WIPE OUT of my hard disk, including my Windows and Data partitions, when I chose to "Replace Ubuntu" (only!) during the initial installation. Then the OS also cannot be made to automatically turn off the laptop monitor when an external monitor is plugged, and vice versa. OMG! Ubuntu 13.10... cannot make it. Another problem faced was the Black Screen With Cursor... Ubuntu's version of BSOD? Ubuntu on Mobile, anyone?

simuloid
simuloid

I was wondering if Unity desktop had gotten usable in the past 3 releases, so I installed 13.1.  I wanted to customize my UI (in particular, put the window controls back on the right, where I am used to them).  So I launched the "Personalize" app.  That didn't have what I wanted.  So I looked on the web and it said to use tweak.  So I went into Unity search and typed "tweak".  It matched a bunch of things that weren't programs.  Found me plenty of sh*t to buy online, but no help about how to do what I needed to do to use the software.  I deleted the virtual machine.  Looks like I'm a mint user now.

beachgeek11
beachgeek11

Here's my problem with your love of 13.10. My "love" of Ubuntu stopped when the whole dnsmasq / network manager debacle started in 12.04, 12.10, and now 13.10. Who is Ubuntu to decide how name resolution happens by default on the user's pc? Bottom line is this... "out of the box" Ubuntu 13.10 is BROKEN. There is NO WAY that a beginning user, who downloads this, hoping for a break from Microshaft nightmares is going to want to switch to this. I consider myself fairly network savvy and I am having a hell of a time trying to configure a workaround for dnsmasq / network manager issues. Every fix breaks something else. And btw, just tried to print a PDF doc on my new OS install, and my HP 4600 goes into a "panic" when I try to print to it now. So I say again... WTF UBUNTU?

400guy
400guy

So far my update tp 13.10 from 13.03) has failed me.

When I attempt to start up I have a long wait, them I get to a black screen with  a movable x on it

The screen is cot centered (the x will not move to the border of the display

.If someone can tell me how to uninstall this I'd appreciate it!!

email is jj@kingmont.com  (as I likely will not return to this site.)

jj

FernandoooM
FernandoooM

I really do not understand how can someone say Ubuntu is a good OS, i love the linux concept, and i made and ill probably continue to try to make an effort to use the os, but i just installed the new 13.10 today, my first linux based os and after a whole afternoon trying to instal a gpu driver, problems with rhythimbox and having to re install the whole os more than once, i find myself with the feeling that im working for the OS more than it is working for me, which just makes no sense, and OS should be that piece of software that should be there ready for the use in the most intuitive and facilitating way possible. But sometime i find myself seeing clues everywhere that tells me linux is the programming geeks treehouse, only you ppl could have fun there, only you ppl know what to in there, so you love to brag about that, which makes you feel safe inside it. But the tragic is, that this unaccesibility for other users makes of what could revolutionize the tecnological world a promise that kinda is being fullfilled, but its not realy.

Han CNX
Han CNX

Don't agree. 13.04 was a lot more stable for me.  13.10 has weird quirks all over the place, and the Dash Search is just WAY too complicated and finnicky right now; it's forgotten how to just be an app launcher and a place to find your files.

Craig_B
Craig_B

Upgraded an old laptop today to 13.10 (from 13.04) and while it doesn't seem like there are any new features it does feel snappier and more responsive.  The upgrade was very smooth and easy, it did take somewhat longer than I expected but worked flawlessly.

Raqlph
Raqlph

First, my name  is Ralph,  not Raqlph, I slipped up.


I used Ubuntu for more than a year, but that was several years ago,  During that time I printed nothing because the printer was not on the list.   A Canon, to be exact.  Is this still the case?


Ralph

edwardtisdale
edwardtisdale

Search Scopes sounds great for a phone or maybe even a tablet, but for a desktop or laptop there are other things to do that take preference over be notified of what's available out on the internet.  I like it better in a browser because I can have the browser open when I want and closed when I don't want search suggestions.  Maybe you can still fo that with Search Scopes, but with a browser it's super easy anyway so not a huge seller for me. A computer is more than a browser to me.

Softedge
Softedge

i too have been trying ubuntu since release 10.04, but have found small things that do not work, but that i have become accustomed to in window xp x64.  yes i am one of the holdouts, and will even past april 2014.  it is an operating system that just works.  i also have windows 8 on a new laptop that is almost back to xp in look and feel; xp is just clean and fast.

the problems i have been experiencing with ubuntu started with video drivers (that i did get worked out) and with the 13.04 release with drivers for my wacom intuos 3 tablet.  yes, there are drivers for it, but they are nowhere near as comprehensive as the drivers for windows.  the drivers do not allow me to use my main input device the way i would like and am accustomed to.

i do like the concept and the feel of unity.  this is finally the convergence of local, network and internet information and tools that should be available to everyone.  this and in one simple accessible location.  good work, i will keep trying.

once these problems and autodesk are on board, ubuntu could become my only operating system.

regards,

softedge

sbicknel
sbicknel

That scopes feature is also returning results listing the contents of your hard drive. Searches in web browsers don’t do that. How can you not see that as a bigger invasion of privacy than what a web browser does?

nickmhtechr
nickmhtechr

For users that care about stability?  Give this release a few to 4 weeks to settle. I've been running a combination of UBuntu since 10 and Debian since 5 and have found UBuntu releases are more "Mature" at about 2-4 weeks post release.  13.10 seems to be the more stable and polished which means it could be rather nice to use.

wmstrome
wmstrome

For the most part, I found that 13.10 works, and it cured a problem I never could solve with wireless for my notebook with 13.04. However, I have been unable to install Adobe Acrobat Reader, despite trying all the suggested solutions that I could find on the internet.  There is always the perennial problem when upgrading Ubuntu, and that is that there are SO many packages that must be reinstalled after the upgrade, presumably because of licensing issues.  Also, mediubuntu seems to be dropped and it used to be a relatively easy way to get those packages.

I still prefer Gnome Classic (no effects). I find it takes too many clicks to locate things with Unity or the full version of Gnome.  I use XUbuntu on the netbook.

treettweller
treettweller

I get the "Internal Error" Message"  runs ok but keeps popping again and again ? This Release is not for me until this Error is fixed.


gardnerwilson57
gardnerwilson57

installed Unbuntu13.10 onto a 32gb thumb drive and found the installation did go smoothly. However, when the system was up and running i found that i kept getting errors whenever i tried to view a video that was either on a website,or one that i had tucked away. This was a big dissapointment to me. Then a few webpages announced to me that a "plug-in" was needed and the system answered this by telling me that there were no "plig-ins" avalible. this happened when i was using the (newest) browser they called firefox.

 Then last but not least when I tried to use my very modern webcam the system actually froze up and sat there for over five minutes. And for those who are not so familiar with how to navigate or install programs within the Linux operating system this one will confound anybody who attempts to install some of the professed needed drivers to make everything actually work correctly. So no video,no webcam,and no viewing fancy media saturated websites and the system will run just fine.Yes this is a smooth running effortlessly to install operating system but in my humble experience not a "OS" that everyone would be happy to install until they get ALL the bugs out. I have been using Ubuntu for quite some time and this one seems to have more hype to it than what it actually can produce for the avgerage joe. Lets hope their official release will do better.

from a Officially licensed linux user counter #337635

AnonyJew
AnonyJew

I am truly excited.  I have just recently gotten really interested in Linux operating systems, I'm a second year CS major specializing in Cyber Security and have really seen the Linux community as a boon to my studies.  This new distro is amazing and I'm not really an Ubuntu fanboy.   

monsuco
monsuco

I've been using Kubuntu since high school (5.04 was my first serious plunge into Linux). It's been great overall. The only huge issues I've ever encountered seemed to be caused by horrid binary drivers for AMD graphics cards and Broadcom network cards. Even dealing with those has gotten much easier over time but binary blobs are still a pain.

Adam Blackie
Adam Blackie

I have been an Ubuntu fan (13.04) and user on my primary workstation for around two years. It's fast, uncomplicated and free. What more could anyone want?

Unfortunately, the GUI is not like Microsoft. For this reason alone it will never be the OS of choice for the majority, who will most likely stick with MS.

However, that's probably good for the rest of us.

Have a great week.

Adam.

TRgscratch
TRgscratch

I am running 12.04 LTS.  When I moved to it from 10, I was advised to ( and ended up) doing a complete new install rather than upgrade in-place.   Will that be the case with going from 12 to 13  ?

djfkcmo
djfkcmo

I have missed the wubi installer.  I run Ubuntu and Windows systems side by side through a KVM switch.  Linux runs all the time and is my quick "go to" but some things still require Windows.

carlsf
carlsf

Have they fixed the install from ISO to a HDD with UFI bios??

orionds
orionds

My experience with the beta of Ubuntu 13.10 has been overall better than previous versions. I have been trying Xubuntu 13.10 and love how snappy and stable it is.

My one gripe is that I can't "port" it to other hardware PCs. By port, I mean make an image of the install using Qt4-fsarchiver and then restore it to a partition on another PC, update grub, reboot, change the host names, and edit the fstab file to point to the new swap and that's it - one size fits all. The problem this time may be the layer that Xfce puts on top of Ubuntu. Up to login everything runs fine, but once in, the display goes awry - no mouse, no panel.

I do not know for sure yet what's the cause and searches have not given me a solution. It could be specific to Xubuntu as this is the first time I'm trying it. This might mean, if I intend to stick with Xubuntu, to install different hardware separately. In the past, I did one install using Lubuntu, installed Gnome fallback and used the one image for all my PCs, notebooks and netbooks.

Despite this, I am amazed at the stability of the beta compared to the past, even the full releases. And, yes, it works straight out of the box. Some software have yet to support 13.10 e.g. Ubuntu Tweak but this should be resolved soon after the "full" release. I really like 13.10.

nsleasy
nsleasy

I've worked with Linux as a DBA and SA since 2001 and I've found the recent releases of Ubuntu to be among the best desktop environments.

Unfortunately, Linux, Windows and Mac all have annoyances and battery life is the Achilles heel of all Linux distributions for the desktop.  I'm back to running Windows 7 on my laptop because it uses far less battery than Ubuntu.  I can get about 5 hours of battery life running Windows, with appropriate power settings.  With Ubuntu 12.10, I'm lucky if I get 2.5 hours -- even with TLP installed and the display dimmed as much as possible.  There are no options to tame the wireless drivers that come with Ubuntu, from what I can tell.

Until hardware manufacturers start supporting Linux in a serious way, I'm afraid Microsoft and Apple will always have better power management options.


extremeskillz
extremeskillz

Love Ubuntu and works well all my hardware perfectly. Unity is by far the best and most efficient desktop I've used ever and i've been a Windows advocate for years. I took the dip with Ubuntu 11.04 and watched this OS blossom to where is today. I used it as my primary OS and to manage my day to day IT operations which is mainly Windows and Linux servers. I have no gripe with Windows or MAC or Linux. They are tools and I find Ubuntu the better of the tools I use.

russ
russ

I love Ubuntu.  I'm a Linux sysadmin.  When I started at my current job, they asked me if I wanted a Windows PC or a Mac.  I told 'em neither.  I wanted a desktop box on which to install Ubuntu.  Got a lot of funny looks on that one.


I've never warmed to Unity, but then, I'm totally happy with the Windowmaker desktop.  I've been using Windowmaker for about 10 years.  I've used it on Solaris, Fedora and of course, Ubuntu.  Fast and easy to customize.  Does everything I want it to.  So all this noise about Unity, pros and cons, are irrelevant.  I couldn't care less about Xmir or whatever it is, just so long as I can keep using Windowmaker.

mark
mark

I am considering installing this onto my linux workstation at home. If it is any good, I might just keep it on the system... otherwise, I am going to be looking at something else.

techrepublic2
techrepublic2

I've been using unix/linux since the early '80s and I have yet to find a single release from anyone that "just worked". I will be totally amazed if, when I install it, 13.10 "just works".

amnio
amnio

Of course you find any and EVERYTHING which comes from Canonical and Mark Shutlleworth JUST ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! There are NEVER ANY PROBLEMS...EVER! Except for those pesky individuals who are not ubuntucult members.

Mark Shuttleworth can do no wrong; he is the saviour of the world; the sun rises and sets in his rear end.

YOU ARE ZDNET, IN CANONICAL'S HIP POCKET.

Again, it would be nice if anything you said about Canonical were believable, but you do--to your very  great discredit--work for ZDNet. And are a bona-fide UbuCult member. Or is that, "zombie"?

How many 'Edge's did you buy? Guess you don't put your money where your mouth is, huh?


Kool-Aid, anyone?

mogoredmax
mogoredmax

Having downloaded most new versions of Ubuntu over the last few years I have always found something that did not work - I confess that I do not have Jacks experience of using it as my main desktop and so have not persevered but always felt let down by one or two key failures either at install or shortly afterwards especially with a dual boot set up. Still, I am willing to try again when the latest version comes out.

Regards

sunrise.seaport
sunrise.seaport

@ColumGI agree with your assessment in 13.10 64-bit.  I cannot get my Dell D630 laptop's built-in bluetooth module to connect to either my mouse or stereo headset.  Sometimes the gnome graphical tool even shows a different status for the adapter than the command-line tools.  I've tried reinstalling the bluez packages, and now I can bring the BT interface up and down, but it still finds no devices during scans.  My Android phone (Samsung Note 1) finds both devices no problem.

pchapa
pchapa

@rykellim My experience is similar to ZTiger. I upgraded from 13.04 as well. Usually after installing Ubuntu I would have to configure wireless, not this time. As well 13.10 is way more stable and reliable than 13.04 for me, this is on a touchscreen laptop which has been very tempermental with any OS including Windows.

ZTiger
ZTiger

@rykellim My experience has been vastly different from yours. I upgraded from 13.04 and was expecting my video drivers to break and having to deal with fixing them. Didn't happen. In fact the everything "just worked". Wireless, firefox, chrome, Software Center, etc. Only problem I had was getting Citrix Receive to work and that is mostly because Citrix is still figuring out how to make 64bit software.

ZTiger
ZTiger

@simuloid Install compiz manager. Then you can manage the unity plug in. However if you are wanting to seriously modify your desktop to something that only you can use then by all means install Mint. It's a great distro.

phil
phil

@Adam Blackie

Hi Adam

I would have said the same before Microsoft broke this concept with Windows 8  and then refused to admit they had broken it with 8.1 update.

We are using ubuntu and Mint on old second hand kit for resale rather than bothering with security risk XP and its surprising that non-technical users can now use these operating systems without screaming, probably the android/iphone effect.

The main drawback for casual PC users is no itunes.
nickmhtechr
nickmhtechr

@Adam Blackie LOL  Windows interface?  You should see my pimped up Xubuntu (It looks like a cross between MacOS, Windows 7 Aero and Unity) LMAO  Users need to be encouraged that Linux is chosen "By Them"  Not chosen for them :)

IndianArt
IndianArt

@TRgscratch No, you can not just upgrade & it is best you do a fresh install.

However, every version that is just 6 months old can be upgraded. All you need to do is go to the 'Software Updater' & it would inform you that there is a new version (after Oct 17, 2013).

Although most people have recommended one should do a 'fresh' install I simply upgrade for years & things are just fine.

hengels
hengels

@nsleasy I have two laptops running Kubuntu and Ubuntu 13.04. Both laptops are reaching a better battery life-time than with Windows 7. But that you do not get out of the box. I had to invest one day research and work for learning how to configure the OS for a great battery life-time. The learning curve is steep and you have to deal with the command line a lot but this learning process you do only once in a life-time. Although both laptops are cheap standard stuff I can now develop websites with my IDE and run Apache, MySQL etc. and work 8 hours uninterrupted until the battery dies.

p8riotx
p8riotx

@extremeskillz  I have been using Ubuntu since 11.04 as well.  You are right in saying it has blossomed.  I have not missed MS for one minute and have never looked back. As the OS continues to develop, I am more and more impressed. 

EddieGWilson
EddieGWilson

@techrepublic2 That depends on your definition of "just works". I've never seen a Windows install that just worked either but some would argue otherwise. 

edwardtisdale
edwardtisdale

@amnio Ubuntu is no cult.  On a new install a new Ubuntu user may need a few things explained but as long as they aren't afraid to learn a little bit it will prove to work great.  They shouldn't do it themselves though, have someone install it for them who knows how, who knows how to find answers on the internet, which really isn't a hard task at all.  It takes a little bit of literacy is all.

EddieGWilson
EddieGWilson

@amnio Don't be an idiot.......Oh no, too late. What I hate about comments like this is that they show no intelligence is present. The comment is nothing but a rant and it's so sad that so much effort was put into tolling. It is trolling because if the child hates Ubuntu so much why did he bother to read the review and to comment. So sad.

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

@amnio Give it up, Mr. Ballmer. Pack up and leave and spend your retirement enjoying Windows 8. Or throw some chairs around.

p8riotx
p8riotx

@mogoredmax I have used Ubuntu exclusively since 11.04 and have installed it on five different machines from four different manufactures without any problems other that the minor glitches mentioned in the article.  A quick search on askubuntu.com has always solved even those little glitches.  Sorry you had trouble and I'm glad you're going to give it another chance.  Best wishes to you!

edwardtisdale
edwardtisdale

@IndianArt The great thing with fresh installs for me is if I always keep my /home drive on a separate partition, and only reformat the / partition, I don't lose any data.

imleetaylor
imleetaylor

@hengels @nsleasy  HEY! Sounds impressive. Care to share any tips - tricks - links to some of the enhancements you've made to your OS/power management settings?

thanks in advance!

lee

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