The Linux development team follow a much shorter release cycle than Microsoft or Apple do for their operating systems. Whereas the big players pump out a new OS every few years, there’s a new Linux release every six months or so. That means that the features are almost always cutting, but it also means that the releases lack polish somewhat.
Intrepid Ibex, or Ubuntu 8.10, has been in development since May and follows the Hardy Heron and Gutsy Gibbon releases. It’s not a big update, rather an incremental build on Hardy Heron, but it does provide a few quality-of-life improvements.
Thanks to an update to Xorg 7.4, Intrepid is much better than Hardy when hotplugging mice, keyboards and tablets into your machine. It’ll recognise these devices much more reliably. It also provides a failsafe desktop environment – you’ll never be without some sort of graphical user interface, even if the OS can’t boot, your computer catches fire, or a comet slams into the earth.
There’s also a useful new Guest mode. If someone wants to use your PC, just log them into Guest mode, let them use it, and when they log out, everything they did will be deleted. Very handy. Also very reminiscent of next-generation browsers’ porn mode.
A new network manager makes it into Intrepid. This adds considerably better support for 3G. Using a 3G data card promises to become just as easy as switching onto Wi-Fi or Ethernet connectivity. At the moment it’s no mean feat to do that, but this will greatly help laptop users who travel a lot.
Another new bit of code, DKMS, has been contributed by Dell. It’ll make it much easier to push out graphics driver updates for Linux users. Thanks, Dell. There’s also a new version of Samba, which will let your Linux boxes see your Windows shared folders – great if you’re using different OSes on your network, which almost everyone who runs Linux will be.
Lastly, a plugin for the media player called “Totem” will be added. This will allow users to play back BBC content. A nice little addition for the UK.
Overall, these are all solid, if incremental, changes. Ubuntu’s slowly working its way into being an OS that people can use without knowing a tonne of command line instructions. If this continues, then it’ll be a viable option within a year or two.
Did I miss anything important in Intrepid out? Educate the world in the comments.
Get Ubuntu (via GearDiary and Dedoimedo)