Well, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Lucid Lynx since everyone was talking about it.

First things first, the look and feel.

Well, gone are the days of Ubuntu brown…yes, you heard it right. After all those years of the same old brown, Ubuntu has decided to refresh the desktop with a new ‘Mystic Purple’ colour.

There is also more integration between IM/social networking and the desktop. The MeMenu which sits nicely next to the clock allows you to send messages to sites like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr etc. And the applet from 9.10 which caused Evolution and Empathy to fall under an envelope dropdown box is still there, only now more involved with these services. Such an example is that it keeps updated with coming emails and IMs.

Rhythmbox has been fitted with the new Ubuntu One Music Store. This like iTunes has the ability to download (by means of payment) the latest and greatest hits.

The Ubuntu Software Center now has 2 more noticable updates: Firstly it has the ability to connect to 3rd party repositories, this means that you can also browse through the Software Centre for packages provided by for instance GetDeb.net. Secondly, it also has a tab for ‘Featured Software’, this is basically a recommended list of software. But what also interested me was that if you search for libdvd in the Software Center, it now has a package for DVD, mp3 etc support. That is in my opinion a great feature.

The boot time is worth noticing, there was a big mention in boot time reducing since 9.10, but it’s with 10.04 that I am noticing the difference.

To finish off, for all those NVidia users but Opensource fans, there is a new opensource driver which works well in my experience.

All in all I am very impressed, and can quite honestly say that this is the most promising and dare I say ‘sexiest’ version that Canonical has released.

But as with any pre-release, there are some downsides which some I am sure will be resolved by the release date, and others that I think will most definately not be resolved.

Firstly, as a big fan of Facebook, and twitter, I could not wait to try out the MeMenu. It was like the little toy in a Happy Meal. The idea is like this:

Gwibber is a service for these social networking sites. You set up your account through there, and this is directly connected to the MeMenu which has a small input box where you can type a quick message and hit enter, then Gwibber sends that on its way to the appropriate site.

Now, many swear that this works beautifully, others have problems with the twitter service and some others with Facebook. I had a problem with all! I did not get a twitter timeline, could not send messages to twitter, and as for Facebook, setting it all up was straightforward, and checking my applications on Facebook showed that I was connected to Gwibber, but Facebook would not be added on Gwibber itself, meaning I could not interact with it. So for me (and many MANY others, the MeMenu is useless right now). I know that this is an issue that shouldnt take much to sort out, however here it gets complicated. The MeMenu is a product from Mark Shuttleworth and Canonical ie. Ubuntu, but it depends entirely on Gwibber, a product of Gwibber, not Canonical. So eventhough Ubuntu has a lot of pressure on itself to get this fixed in the next 11 days, Gwibber has no such deadline and the question is, can they be pressured to get it fixed in time?

Then there is the issue of Empathy, we all know the switch from Pidgin to Empathy was a controversial one. And although I was extremely opposed to the switch due to the boring interface and lack of features, they seemed to have changed a lot to make it more appealing. But one feature which in my opinion is a must has simply got to be the ability to block either spam messages, or unwanted people. And empathy does not have support for this. If they had included the abilities for plugins, then I’m sure I wouldnt have had to mention this because someone would have wrote one by now.

So summing it all up:

Ubuntu 10.04 currently looks like one mean, powerful, fast and exciting OS, it has all the features we want. It looks sleek and sexy, has a new feel to it. Is so easy anyone can use it and makes all other versions of Ubuntu look outdated. However the bad sides to it currently are that it relies to heavily on Gwibber which is far from stable and may put a lot of people off, and it relies heavily in the IM department on Empathy, a good and strong client which simply lacks everything except for the main messaging features and some voice and cam.

Lets just hope that this resolves itself before the final release.

Please note that the moment there are any improvements on any of the features, that I will update this blog.

The computer used for this test was:

MSI CR700 laptop, Nvidia GeForce Graphics, 350Gb HDD, 3 G RAM, Ubuntu 10.04 Beta 2

EDIT: On Monday April the 19th, the day after writing this blog, everything began to work…I am able to add a facebook account now, and the MeMenu and Gwibber now integrates with Twitter and Facebook without problems. In fact, it works nice, real nice!

EDIT EDIT: Okay, this will not become a running commentary, however it is good to point out the exact unpredictable nature of the current state of Gwibber and in turn the MeMenu, unfortunately Gwibber has decided to not respond to Facebook or Twitter again.