Since Beta 2 is in feature freeze right now (and basically in release candidate stage), I decided to check it out and see if it’s any different/better/worse.

Right off the bat I want to begin by talking about 12.04, just so we know what is at stake.

Ubuntu 12.04 was a Long Term Support version, and a lot of businesses were going to be using this version for quite some time. Therefore it had to be good, stable and a flagship Ubuntu version. Did it live up to expectations?

In my case…absolutely not.

I encountered many crashes, and worse of all, system crashes.
Add to that the incredibly slow boot times. And by slow I mean, turn laptop on, go set the kettle, pour tea out, go and have a shower, do a bit of shopping, then come back and the system has just loaded.
Okay, that might be a little exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Unity would switch between Unity 2D and 3D whenever it pleased it, applications took a while to start.

And sure it was pretty, but I prefer stability over prettiness.

That lead me to head to Linux Mint.

But I also thought it was beautiful, an example of where Unity was headed.
The user menu was coming along nicely and really allowed central control over everything.

It had good, and bad sides.

So, how does Ubuntu 12.10 fare?

Let me begin by mentioning it’s speed.
My laptop is notorious for being a rebel, it likes to cause trouble where others do not. Which is quite good since it allows me to really challenge stability.
And in the past boot ups have been around 3 minutes from cold.
Ubuntu 12.10 is a totally different beast.
At 15 seconds to boot to login, I think I encountered a mild cardiac arrest the first time I booted.
I have decided to keep Ubuntu 12.10 just for this alone, but I’m sure you aren’t as easy to please, so let’s continue.

This version of Ubuntu did make some big changes however, which take some getting used to.

The most radical of these is the now infamous Shopping Lens.

It seems almost everybody I speak to hates this with a passion.
Calling it everything from an invasion of privacy, to commercial adware.
I vowed to remove this feature as soon as I encountered it!
But wait one minute.

The Linux community is well known for being ‘cheap’, which I don’t think I agree with per se.
And having seen the integration of shopping results in the dash is quite a shock.

But I find it rather useful.
I don’t mind spending money, and some of the results that have come up in the dash were actually pretty good.
The main argument people have against this lens is that it seems to force people to see shopping results where they do not need it.
This is true, but I think it’s more for convenience.
Think about it, if you are able to find products without visiting Amazon for it, that’s pretty good. And what about if you are looking for a video and a result for a DVD comes up that you didn’t even know existed, would you have otherwise ever found it?

This lens is one of those, love it or loathe it features.
I am not arguing for or against it, because it is completely understandable if you don’t like it.
But I can live with it quite happily.

Other lenses are more refined, and the mix between local and remote content is just brilliant.
I love being able to find things through the dash that aren’t even on my computer.
Whether they be videos, tweets, Facebook statuses (will explain more) or applications.

What has really integrated well is social networking.
You are not just able to see tweets anymore.
Facebook statuses also appear. But what’s more than that, Facebook videos and pictures also appear, and have their own section, thus knowing what is a video, a picture or a status without it being in just one big clump.

Even small details have been worked on.
If you thought Ubuntu looked professional in previous versions, expect to have your mind blown.
It’s ever so subtle but everything seems crisp, and more refined than ever before.
The difficulty is in explaining how, that’s how subtle it is.
But it just looks so much more professional, all I can say is to check it out, it’s just great.

Firefox has also had a nice integration with certain pages that you were able to add in previous versions.
This feature means that if you visit sites like YouTube, OMGUbuntu or other sites you may get a dropdown box asking if you want to link the site.
After which you can open the page by searching for it in the Dash and clicking on the icon instead of having to open Firefox first and then heading to the site.
Very slick.

But not everything is great.

One of the most annoying changes is the user menu (you know, where your name is at the top and you click on it?).
Actually, let me rephrase that, the annoying change is where the user menu used to be.
Yes, that’s right, it’s totally gone!

Instead, you have the usual battery, network connection, Dropbox and MeMenu icons, followed by the clock, and then the settings gear icon.
That’s it.

By clicking on the Settings gear icon, you get access to a lot of the usual features such as System Settings and the shut down options.
You also have a help option and even a ‘About this Computer’ option.

And all the social options are in the MeMenu, so no complaints right?

Well yes there is, where on earth is Ubuntu One?
I use Ubuntu One a lot, and sometimes I want to add a folder to the sync options, but now I have to open the Dash, then type Ubuntu…and click on the icon (where the name appears but no icon for me).
Maybe I’m just moaning, but can you remember the day when there was no user option at the top?
I’ve grown fond and used to it, and it just seems…missing.

I am trying to find any more criticism but I’m really struggling to mention any, so I won’t.

As of writing this, there are a few features that are not working right (but not Ubuntu related) that are worth mentioning so you know what to expect.

Gwibber is still included and integrated as it was in previous versions, but it seems to dismiss whatever setting you set.
I like to only be told when someone mentions me on Twitter, and have set this setting, but Gwibber still reminds me every 10 minutes of the amount of new tweets and this isn’t just a little annoying, this is a huge pest!

Also, I am a huge fan of Emesene, and this is just broken right now.
Opening it results in a crash at login.
However, they seem to be on to it and they are fixing it.

But to conclude, let me first say that I am using a pre-released version (Beta 2) and have yet to encounter a single Ubuntu crash or even an error.
I can very confidently say that this is the best version of Ubuntu I have used and how this has become a normal version and not the LTS is beyond me.
If you are a business owner, please, do yourself a favour and perhaps consider 12.10 instead, I don’t think you will regret it, although you may encounter issues I have not had.

Ubuntu 12.10 is a gem, and a delight to use!