October 01, 2010, 1:16 PM — The newest Ubuntu Linux, Maverick Meerkat 10.10, is so close you can almost taste it. And, if you're willing to use the release candidate of Ubuntu 10.10, you can try it now. I have, and I like it a lot.
To put the Maverick Meerkat through its paces, I ran it on my reliable old laptop companion a Lenovo ThinkPad R61 This 2008 notebook is powered by a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor T7500 and has 2GBs of RAM. I also tried it out on one of my usual desktop operating systems testbed PCs: a Dell Inspiron 530S powered by a 2.2-GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor with an 800-MHz front-side bus. This box has 4GBs of RAM, a 500GB SATA (Serial ATA) drive, and an Integrated Intel 3100 GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) chip set.
On both systems, installing Ubuntu was as easy as starting a car. I just popped in the key, a USB key to be exact, switched it on, and in a few minutes I was cruising along. No fuss, no muss.
If you don't have a PC to devote to Ubuntu, I also have found that the new Ubuntu runs just fine from a CD or USB key. I also had no trouble running it under Windows XP or Windows 7 using VirtualBox 3.2.8. I've heard people have had trouble running Ubuntu 10.04 on VirtualBox but 10.10 ran like a champ for me.
Under the hood Maverick Meerkat uses the 2.6.35-22.33 Linux kernel, which is Ubuntu's take on the 220.127.116.11 stable kernel. What's noteworthy about this kernel is that it's a bit more stable than previous ones and it includes support for Intel's Sandy Bridge processors. Sandy Bridge is Intel's next generation of PC and server chips. That doesn't matter now except for developers, but if you want to get the most from your next high-end PC purchase in 2011, you'll want this support.