Almost four weeks have passed since the arrival of Meerkat! We know it is a bit late for a review now, but we feel obliged to do that. We are called Ubuntu Manual for a good reason :). Anyway we can get a more clear picture after all the hype has come down. Since it is natural to compare the latest release with the previous one, we will follow the same route.

Live Boot

On first boot, we were not really excited by seeing the same old splash screen from Ubuntu 10.04 . The desktop contains an ‘Example’ folder which is filled with new content sourced from the community. However clicking the install button proved to be a pleasant surprise. Seems Canonical has jazzed up the installation screen. It is now revamped and feature rich. You have the option to select the time zone, install multimedia codecs and create the user account aside of the installation! The installer has certainly become more interactive.

First Boot

Rebooting after installation, we were shown the same old GRUB (version 2) interface. After selecting Ubuntu, you are presented with the splash screen, which is the same from the previous version. We felt a slight decrease in boot time, but as we all know boot times are hardware dependent. Moving to the desktop, first glances showed the lack of a striking feature that was different from Ubuntu 10.04. But a few minutes into the experience, we were able to find a few worth mentioning.

Music Player controls in Sound Menu

One feature which really struck a chord with us was the sound menu. The existing one was given a face-lift and rewired to include music player controls. While playing our favorite tracks in Rhythmbox, we did not have to go back to the music player to switch tracks or pause it!; The new feature enables us to do it right from the sound menu itself.  This feature is supported by most of the popular music players like Amarok and Banshee.

Shotwell instead of F-Spot

F-Spot image viewer and manager has been replaced by Shotwell. In our opinion this is a really slick move as Shotwell feels more polished and elegant than F-spot. F-Spot lover’s don’t worry! You can still grab it from the Ubuntu Software Center. Shotwell is going to add more killer features in the next version, like video upload to Youtube & Picasa Web Albums.

Ubuntu Software Center

The new Software Centre is also worth mentioning. Canonical has really put in a lot of work in Ubuntu’s ‘Application Store’. It has got a lot of fresh features in the new release. In the main window, the ‘Featured’ and ‘Whats New’ sections keeps newbies interested enough to install new apps! Post installation, it displays the path where the application is installed. Nice! There was a time when software in GNU/Linux could only be installed from source, and converts from Windows felt embarrassed and slightly out of place in the new environment, where a ‘one click-install’ was not the norm. Ubuntu’s Software Center makes the software management in GNU/Linux a walk in the park. There are rumours that Apple’s Mac OSX is also going to implement a similar Application store in their new release!

Bling

Not much has changed from Ubuntu 10.04. The same Ambiance & Radiance theme dots the Appearance menu with some minor polishes thrown here and there plus an improved wallpaper. But, there are some good new wallpapers available which were sourced from the community submissions.

Fonts

Maverick comes with a surprise for the Indian audience, they can type in their new Rupee symbol! This has happened when the Indian government proposed the Unicode Consortium to reserve a space for the Rupee symbol in the new version of Unicode. At the same time, a member from the Ubuntu community contributed the glyph for the symbol in Ubuntu Fonts, on September 27, just 10 days before the Ubuntu 10.10 final release. At the end of the day, Ubuntu got the Rupee symbol included in its list of numerous fonts. As our keyboard doesn’t have a dedicated button for it, we could display the symbol by typing <Ctrl-Shift-u> 2 0 b 9 <enter> . Shows Ubuntu is global and pretty quick and receptive to new changes.

Our Verdict

For a convert from Microsoft Windows or Mac OS X, the new Ubuntu 10.10 feels tempting to use! But, a regular Ubuntu user wont find anything ground breaking in the new release, although it can be considered a polished Lucid. However, the improvements in the sound applet are worth mentioning.

Lucid Lynx was a big leap in terms of UI from Karmic by trashing the old brown theme and functionality by replacing Gimp as the default Photo Editor. Maverick improves on that. The next iteration in the Ubuntu release, 11.04 Natty Narwhal will come under the lime light on April 28, 2011.

By the way we are going to give Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat a 9/10 rating.