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First Impressions of Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop Edition

A veteran Linux Desktop user breaks down his first experience with Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop Edition, exploring its new features, and explains why he came away impressed.

am a proud veteran user of the Ubuntu Linux operating system. I've been running Ubuntu since Dapper Drake (that's Ubuntu 6.06LTS, for the uninitiated) was alpha. I use Ubuntu 6.06 as a standalone LAN server and Xubuntu as the desktop operating system for my laptop. I even configured Ubuntu as a DHCP router once. So although I had just received my Ubuntu Linux version 7.04 (codenamed Feisty Fawn) installation CDs when Ubuntu released version 7.10 (codenamed Gutsy Gibbon) on October 18, 2007, I was eager to check the newest version out.

This article is a subjective outline of the steps required to move a vanilla Ubuntu Desktop install towards basic multimedia functionality. It walks through most of the basic first steps I followed as I experienced the Ubuntu 7.10 Linux Desktop for the first time (see Sidebar 1 for the hardware specifications of my test system). Along the way, I explain which new features make "Gutsy Gibbon" a worthwhile upgrade.

What You Need to Get Started
This article assumes you have installed just a vanilla version of either Ubuntu 7.04 or Ubuntu 7.10. Whether you are installing version 7.04 or 7.10, the Ubuntu installation procedure is straightforward and intuitive. Ubuntu Linux provides downloads of its latest releases as well as mail delivery of its releases at no charge via its shipit service.

The default Ubuntu 7.10 install asks you if you want to wipe out all data related to previous installs or create a partition. Though creating dual- and multi-boot systems is an option, for ease of install dedicate an entire hard disk to Linux. Dedicating a hard disk to the Ubuntu install removes the risk of future data loss errors when upgrading multi-boot systems. Further, as the price of multi-GB hard drives continues to drop, dedicating an entire hard disk to each of your chosen operating systems has never been cheaper.

The default install also creates a /root filesystem as a single tree with no branches. A better practice for crash recovery and security is the OpenBSD approach of having /home, /usr, /var, and /tmp as separate partitions.

If at any point something goes wrong and you need to escape from the project, you can hard crash the X-Server with the keystroke Ctrl-Alt-Backspace.

What's New and Noteworthy in Ubuntu 7.10
Besides numerous bug fixes, the significant changes found in Ubuntu 7.10 include:

  • Restricted Driver Manager: This makes handling proprietary video card drivers a one-click affair.
  • Automated printer installation: Find and use your printer as a plug-and-play device.
  • NTFS read/write: The NTFS-3g project enables the reading and writing of Windows NTFS file systems.
  • 3D desktop: Compiz Fusion, which is enabled by default, brings 3D visual effects on the Linux Desktop one step closer to maturity. (Compiz Fusion requires a 2000 or later ATI video card, an NVIDIA card with the 100.14.19 driver, or an Intel card that is not a 965 chipset and some configuration.)

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