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In this article I will review the latest Ubuntu release 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot). I will compare it to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron). The comparison will cover the installation, hardware support and drivers, speed, usability, pre-installed /bundled softwares, support for 3g/evdo rev A(mobile broadband) and the logical categorization for menus and toolbar.

I have chosen 8.04 for the comparison for two reasons. The first reason is the difference in years between the release date of the two releases has to be a long enough to have a rational comparison regarding the progress and achievements thoroughly during these three year difference, also bearing in mind that there are versions of Ubuntu that are newer than 8.04 LTS but their support has expired (unlike 8.04 LTS). The second reason is that they are the only versions of Ubuntu that I have used as I always seem to opt for the LTS. However,I have downloaded 11,10 which is not LTS only because WUBI is there to use(after that I provided an unallocated disk space to have proper dual-booting).

The review will be score based, and the top mark is 7 as we will only cover the aspects mentioned in the first paragraph.(0) mark is for bad, (0.5) is for acceptable and (1)is for good

1-installation:

Installing 8.04 is not straight forward specially for Linux newcomer. That is because you have to choose the journaling and designate the installation drive and the swap drive manually. (0)

Installing 11.10 is very straight forward and easy as the installer does everything and all you have to do is to provide the unallocated partition within windows and lay back as everything else is automated.(1)

2-Hardware support and drivers:

For 8.04 hardware support and  graphic cards drivers in particular were a nightmare but fortunately there was a program called envy that will detect your graphic card and install a 'suitable' driver so it wasn't the real thing.(that is especially true for ATI cards drivers as the manufacturers don't seem to care much about Linux). (0)

For 11.10 my graphic card was instantly detected, installed, and updated. Same goes for other hardwares like the built-in camera. (1)

3-Speed

8.04 speed is good considering the hardware that is used to run on(core 2 duo)32-bit system. To be fair I should give it (0.5).
 
11.10 is currently running in an Intel i7 processor and a 64-bit operating system and the speed is amazing. So both deserve a positive mark because the speed is dependent on the available hardware (basically a relative comparison).(1)
 
4- Usability

8.04 is a straight forward and very user-friendly. Everything is layed out perfectly. The learning curve is gradual. See picture (A)
(1)

11.10: The learning curve is very steep. It took me about a week to figure out what is there to offer. In addition the genuine feel of Linux has vanished and got replaced with a Mac look alike interface(called unity). The Steve Jobs effect has altered Linux, who was expecting that to happen?! See picture (B)
(0.5)

5- Pre-installed /bundled softwares:

8.04 has a large list of useful softwares that comes from out of the box. There are games, important command line programs like wvdial, a well established office suite(open office), image manipulation program(Gimp)....etc. (1)

11.10: Unlike 8.04, 11.10 comes with few programs that are pre-installed. The open office has been replaced with a not very functional office suite called LibreOffice which has no built in grammar checking tool. You need to download plugins to have the grammar checking tool. Also there are no images manipulation program (Gimp). And the most annoying thing is removing the wvdial program from the terminal. I am not sure why are the developers assuming that everyone has a cable connection. In Africa mobile broadband is the most common connection method. Just imagine the scenario if you want to remove unity and replace it with KDE and later found out that you have no wvdial in your terminal. I am sure that will upset many people. (0.5)
 
6- Support for 3g/evdo rev A (mobile broadband in general):

8.04 has not got a user interface for mobile broadband but you can connect to the Internet by using the wvdial program. However gnome-shell will not recognize it as a connection and will show the disconnected sign. That should not be a problem as long as you can browse the web and use other Internet programs. (0.5)

11.10 has a neat user interface for the mobile broadband and it works smoothly. However it has not got  the wvdial command. (0.5)

7-Logical categorization for menus and toolbar.

8.04: The layout is very neat and the categorization is logical and well segregated. See picture(C)
(1)

11.10: The layout is acceptable but there is no categorization at all(see picture(D))
. To solve this download the gnome 3 shell by typing the following command:

$sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

After the installation is finished reboot your system and when the login screen appears click on setting and choose gnome-shell. Now you will have a very user-friendly and practical Linux system. See picture (E)  & (F)

(1)

The upcoming version of Ubuntu is 12.04 LTS is due to be released in April 2102 which means that we will initially have support until 2017. I am looking forward to this one.

Ubuntu 8.04 score is 4 out of 7.

Ubuntu 11.10 score is 5 out of 7.

So Ubuntu 11.10 wins but by a small margin.



Author Profile

My name is Amin Salim and I am Sudanese born in Kuwait. I hold a degree in Information Systems (BSC) from the University of Leeds. I have worked as a research assistant for a local expertise and consultancy firm called (SUDEXAM). Then I travelled to Sierra Leone and worked for the project development unit as an Information Systems engineer. My role was doing the financial analysis and the whole editing for the feasibility studies and providing technical support. I am flexible, and a good team player as realized from conducting feasibility studies with people from different backgrounds and qualifications. Afterwards I came back to Sudan and worked as self-employed software engineer and have developed a system by myself from scratch for a charity eye-hospital. The system functionality was to keep track of stock and sales (written in Java). I am very versatile individual as proven from working on different disciplines and always looking to improve my skills.



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