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First Impressions of Ubuntu 7.10 Desktop Edition : Page 2

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.

Upgrade to the Latest and Greatest
First, you need a quick way to access the latest Ubuntu-related software. With Gnome (the default X-Windows face of Ubuntu Linux), you can access this software either from the Applications menu or via the Command Line Interface (CLI), commonly referred to as the terminal. I use the terminal, so to follow along begin by creating a shortcut to the terminal.

On the top left menu button of your install, left mouse click Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal and then click on and hold the terminal icon. (see Figure 1).

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Figure 1. Creating a Shortcut to the Terminal:
You can access the latest Ubuntu-related software via the Command Line Interface (CLI), commonly referred to as the terminal.

Drag and drop the icon onto the main desktop area. Use the same procedure to drag and drop the terminal icon onto the shortcut bar. Now open the terminal by clicking the shortcut icon you just created. (By default icons on the shortcut bar require a single mouse click while the main space requires double clicks to activate software.)

Upgrading from Ubuntu 7.04 to Ubuntu 7.10
If you are starting from a vanilla install of Ubuntu 7.10, skip this section. If you have installed Ubuntu 7.04 and want to upgrade to Ubuntu 7.10, you first must have the latest and greatest of all the current Feisty Fawn software packages. If it wasn't for the System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager, keeping up with the daily changes and improvements to the Ubuntu system and related software would be difficult. Fortunately, the apt-get command makes software upgrades and installations nearly effortless.

To update and upgrade your Ubuntu release, you need only enter the following code in the terminal. Open the terminal using the shortcut you created above and type:

terminal@yourmachine:~$ sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade

To upgrade your kernel, keystroke Alt-F2 and in the resulting Run Application prompt box type: gksu "update-manager" (see Figure 2).

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Figure 2. Updating and Upgrading Your Ubuntu Release:
To update and upgrade your Ubuntu release, you need only enter one line of code in the terminal.

To complete your kernel upgrade, click the [Upgrade] button to the right of "New distribution release '7.10' is available". Kernel upgrading really could not be easier!

Go one step further and include the restricted sources to your Synaptic/apt-get software repository. Inclusion of other repositories may be necessary as you add unsupported, experimental, or proprietary functionality to your Ubuntu Desktop. To do this, take the following steps:

  1. Back up your existing sources.list file as a safety precaution:
    terminal@yourmachine:~$ sudo cp -p /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list_backup

  2. Open the sources.list file with the gedit Gnome Editor:
    terminal@yourmachine:~$ sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

  3. Delete the comment tag (#) from the restricted locations and save the modified file.

  4. Update your system to use the newly accessible repositories:
    terminal@yourmachine:~$ sudo apt-get update

Multiple Workspaces and Alternative X-Windows Environments
One of the best things about X-Windows is its multi-workspace environment. On a default install, the bottom right corner of the bottom taskbar features two squares. Move the mouse over that area and right click Preferences. Increase the number of workspaces to a total that is reasonable for your purposes (one for chat, one for email, one for surfing, one for terminal, one for GIMP graphics editing, and so on). You can choose between one and 36. Tip: to use the Compiz Fusion cube, set the columns to 4 and the rows to 1.

Multitasking is expected these days, so why not try it out? Close the workspace preferences window and launch a browser in a separate workspace. Open another workspace and activate another application. Once you start to use multiple workspaces you will never be able to go back to single desktop workspace mode.

Not only can you have multiple workspaces, you can also choose between multiple X-Windows environments. Gnome is just one possible interface between the operating system and the user. Indeed, Ubuntu Linux is a custom built Gnome X-Windows environment running on top of Debian Linux. However, Debian Linux is capable of running most, if not all, of the X-Windows family.

I sincerely hope that the Ubuntu team does not forget their Debian roots when custom designing software. Software interoperability across all Linux platforms is the way to go.

My Linux Desktop of Choice, Xubuntu Desktop
The Ubuntu team attempts to support and improve the software that is provided with the default Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Edbuntu installs. To install my Linux desktop of choice, Xubuntu Desktop (a.k.a. XFCE Window Manager), enter the following code in a terminal:

terminal@yourmachine:~$ sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop; sudo apt-get install xubuntu-artwork

The Xubuntu Desktop integrates its applications with the Gnome Desktop and vice versa, but this is a matter of taste. If you prefer one desktop OS to another, then by all means use the system that speaks to you! Log out and choose XFCE as a session to explore the Xubuntu Desktop.

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