With the upcoming release of Ubuntu 10.04, Canonical is releasing not only a pretty Linux distribution, but one that works very well.
Here's what finally convinced me that Ubuntu was worthy of the average desktop user: I installed it on my Mom's computer. Clichéd, but true.
Actually, this happened quite some time ago, so this is not necessarily news. But it's key to note that I indicated "average" desktop user. While I was very willing to recommend Ubuntu for users who just needed to handle day-to-day operations like surfing, e-mail, word processing, and the like, I was personally holding back from using it myself, preferring instead to use openSUSE, which enabled me to complete more advanced tasks, like video editing and conversion, pretty easily.
Another big draw for me was the openSUSE Build Service, which enabled me to find and even produce easy-to-install packages for some of the more obscure applications I use.
Every time I tried to use Ubuntu, it felt like I'd stepped into a kiosk machine: it looked like Linux, but the functionality I needed just wasn't there. Sometimes that absence was drastic: I remember having great hot docking support for my laptop in Ubuntu 8.04 that somehow vanished in 8.10.
But right now I am an Ubuntu 10.04 (beta) user, and surprisingly comfortable with it. So, what's changed?
For one thing, this is one of the first Linux distros that fit so well on my ThinkPad X61s. All of my machine's devices were fully recognized and configured when I installed the Lucid Lynx beta on it a couple of weeks ago. That includes what has historically been the one device that had consistently thrown off every Linux distro installed on this machine: my microphone. Invariably, if I wanted to record something or use Skype, I would have to fight to get either the on-board or any external microphone properly configured. Sometimes that would be a fight I would lose.
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