You would think that writing about the latest version of Ubuntu 14.04 would be easy but it is hard to write about one of the biggest Linux distributions without repeating everyone else’s sentiments or covering the same ground that was covered with Ubuntu 13.10.
With that in mind please don’t be disappointed that much of what I will be writing here has been written before.
There is nothing revolutionary about Ubuntu 14.04, especially if you have already tried Ubuntu 13.10, Ubuntu 13.04, Ubuntu 12.10 and Ubuntu 12.04. The improvements to Ubuntu have been slow and steady.
So what does that say about Ubuntu? Have they ran out of ideas? Is it a distribution just coasting along on former successes?
No. I think the developers are doing it right.
When Unity was first released it caused a major backlash with every man, meerkat and narwhal having an opinion.
Unity still divides opinion today but whereas at the time everyone seemed to be struggling with the new interface there are now a great number of people who swear by it.
If you are currently reading this from a computer running Windows 8 then you should realise that the Unity interface, whilst more modern than the traditional desktop, is far more intuitive and much easier to navigate.
How to get Ubuntu 14.04
You can download Ubuntu as an ISO image from http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop.
Once you have the downloaded image burn it to a DVD using disc burning software. Alternatively you can use a program such as UNetbootin.
There are instructions showing how to create a DVD and USB drive on the Ubuntu website.
If you don’t like the idea of burning your own DVD or creating your own USB drive then you can buy a Ubuntu 14.04 DVD or USB
Installing Ubuntu 14.04
Using a computer without UEFI makes installing Ubuntu 14.04 a breeze. If you are using a computer with UEFI then it is still supposed to be a breeze but quite often isn’t.
Here is a link to the official Ubuntu installation guide.
I have also written a dual boot guide showing how to install Ubuntu 14.04 alongside Windows 8.1.
So, one of the biggest problems I found with Windows 8 is the method used for launching applications.
In Windows 8 you have the tiles which when clicked launch an application. Any application that isn’t in a tile has to be launched by bring up the search icon and then searching for the application.
If you are viewing the desktop as opposed to the tile view (for instance because you are using a standard Windows style application) and you want to run another application (for example snipping tool to take a screenshot) then you have to go back to the tile view to get to it. It is all very slow and cumbersome.
Now I know that the Windows experts amongst you will tell me there are some keyboard shortcuts that can do it quicker but where are they documented?
If you are running Windows 7 then you might feel a little more smug because the interface is fairly standard. It looks and feels familiar and running programs is a breeze.
Take a look at Ubuntu’s Unity interface. It does everything right that Windows 8’s tile interface does wrong.
For launching the most commonly used applications the Unity interface provides a quick launch bar down the left hand side.
Critics of the Unity interface quite often complain at the fact that there isn’t much you can do to customise the look and feel.
Whilst that may be true you will soon see that Unity is so intuitive that you don’t really need to customise it. Unity is for people who are interested in running applications as opposed to pimping their desktop.
The top icon on the launch bar pulls up “The Dash” which is used to find and run applications, listen to music, watch videos, converse online and view your photo collection.
Other icons include access to a file manager, the Firefox web browser, LibreOffice, the software manager, Amazon and the system settings.
Connecting to the internet
MP3s and Flash
install of the restricted extras package you will get a blue screen
appearing asking you to accept a user agreement. Press the tab key to
select the relevant option. (This isn’t immediately obvious).
Collection and use of dataWhen you enter a search term into the dash Ubuntu will search your Ubuntu computer and will record the search terms locally.Unless you have opted out (see the “Online Search” section below), we will also send your keystrokes as a search term to productsearch.ubuntu.com and selected third parties so that we may complement your search results with online search results from such third parties including: Facebook, Twitter, BBC and Amazon. Canonical and these selected third parties will collect your search terms and use them to provide you with search results while using Ubuntu.By searching in the dash you consent to:
- the collection and use of your search terms and IP address in this way; and
As you can see there is a way of turning off the online search results and thereby maintaining your privacy.
Privacy has obviously become a massive issue around the world with Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, NSA revelations etc.
It is up to each of us to decide how far we go to try and protect our privacy.
The best place to go to see the new features in Ubuntu 14.04 is https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TrustyTahr/ReleaseNotes.
- The Linux Kernel is now 3.13.
- Python is at version 3.4
- Improvements made to AppArmor
- Improvements made to Oxide
- Upstart upgraded to 1.12.1
- LibreOffice upgraded to 4.2.3
- XOrg upgraded to 15.0.1
- Mesa upgraded to 10.1
- Support for high-DPI screens and desktop scaling
- New screen saver and lock screen
- Embedded menus in windows
- Improved Super key + W functionality
- New window decorations
- Dash scopes can be added/removed from the dash
- Type ahead find in Nautilus
- Default applications have integrated menus
- Ubuntu specific settings application
You may have noticed that this review of Ubuntu is a long time after all the other reviews that have been written.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I have been backed up with other articles but the other is that I decided to have it on my computer and use it for some time before making a judgement.
I have had Ubuntu on my computer for a while and whilst I haven’t used it everyday, the times that I have used it have been largely issue free.
Nothing is perfect however and here is what I found:
- When you first install Ubuntu 14.04 and after you have imported music into Rhythmbox, the music scope in the dashboard doesn’t immediately update. It takes a reboot of the computer
- The same thing happened with the photos scope. I had to import the images into Shotwell and then reboot to get the photos to appear.
- When I set the menus to be integrated, LibreOffice decided it would show no menu whatsoever.
The tag line for this article is “There has never been a better time to switch to Linux”.
There are a number of reasons why this statement is true.
- Windows 8 is freakishly bad
- Ubuntu is superb and has a new long term support release
- Linux Mint is superb and has a new long term support release
Ubuntu 14.04 is supported for 5 years. This means that if you install Ubuntu now then it will continue to receive updates for 5 years without having to upgrade in between.
Version 10 of Ubuntu was an LTS release and by the time version 12 came out the desktop environment changed considerably. Version 10 users were at a disadvantage by the time their 5 years were up.
I bet if you ask 12.04 users how they feel about their version of Ubuntu then they will be more than happy. It has been a very stable operating system.
Ubuntu 14.04 is possibly the best version of Ubuntu yet. Much quicker than before and with many subtle but useful improvements
Where else can you get something for free and be given a 5 year warranty on it?
I think GNU/Linux is the best operating system and I think Ubuntu is the best Linux distribution and no more so than for the Everyday Linux User.
If you find yourself using the same applications frequently and you use a number of online applications then there really is no quicker way to launch applications than with the launcher or the dash.
The hardware integration (which I didn’t really mention) is excellent. My MP3 player, printer and other gadgets were all picked up straight away and they all work well.
There is a good selection of software installed by default and the software centre is a decent enough tool for installing applications.
If you want to use Linux but want to limit your exposure to terminal commands then Ubuntu is a perfectly good option.
There are some reasons for not choosing Ubuntu however. If you have an incompatible sound or video card for instance or your hardware is getting older. In this instance you could consider using Kubuntu, Xubuntu or Lubuntu.
Thankyou for reading
Ubuntu 14.10 Review
Click here for a review of Ubuntu 14.10 which is the latest release.