Product Ubuntu Linux 12.10
CANONICAL'S decision to integrate Amazon adverts in Ubuntu 12.10 has made what would have been an ordinary release into one that has been plagued with controversy.
As Canonical looks to recoup some of its investment in the Ubuntu Linux project it was widely thought that the firm would follow Red Hat's route of offering paid product support, but instead Ubuntu 12.10 is the first glimpse of how Canonical apparently wants to recoup its investment. The firm's decision to release Ubuntu 12.10 with Amazon adverts has added a sour taste to what still remains an accomplished desktop Linux distribution.
Canonical's Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release will remain the firm's mainstay for the next 18 months. The firm doesn't expect business users to move on to interim releases such as 12.10 and 13.04, meaning the firm uses such releases to test out features. Nevertheless, Ubuntu 12.10 shows where Canonical wants to go with Ubuntu and in some cases it might motivate users to migrate to other distributions.
Ubuntu's installation procedure is still by far the best operating system installer this reviewer has come across, including Microsoft Windows, Anaconda used in many Red Hat based Linux distributions, FreeBSD and OpenBSD. Upgrading Ubuntu from 12.04 LTS is simple, with the Software Updater requiring a change so that non-LTS Ubuntu versions are available, though the overall time taken to upgrade varies on the internet connection, number of packages that need to be updated and the underlying hardware so it's best to make a cup of tea once it has started.
Ubuntu 12.10 brings the usual range of bug fixes, a Linux kernel updated to 3.5.5 and Libreoffice 3.6.2, while Firefox and Thunderbird get updated to the current version, a fact that should remain true at least for the next month or so. Canonical's insistence on Unity as the default window manager continues and ships with minor updates, but users on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will get all of these updates without having to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.10.
Perhaps the most notable under the bonnet change comes with Ubuntu 12.10 supporting UEFI Secure Boot just in time for the new batch of PCs that are designed specifically for Microsoft's Windows 8. Canonical said that only Ubuntu 12.10 desktop, server and Edubuntu support UEFI Secure Boot at present but Ubuntu 13.04 will see support being brought to other spins.
Canonical's insistence to go down the Unity window manager route has been played out by a community that is clearly resistant to change. Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu are available for those who prefer to have KDE, LXDE or XFCE window managers respectively, without hitting the repository, but while four year old graphics hardware might struggle with Unity 3D, the window manager provides some Mac OS X reminiscent appeal while being different enough not to mimic Windows, something that might bring a new crowd of users to Linux.
Even on modest laptop hardware such as this reviewer's Lenovo X301 sporting Intel integrated graphics and a low-end dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz chip, Ubuntu 12.10 and in particular Unity were fine to use, with animations and menus being rendered at a decent clip. That said, those coming from lightweight window managers such as XFCE and LXDE will notice a slowdown on such hardware.
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