It's been a long six-month wait, but she's finally arrived. Ubuntu 7.04 was released today, and brings a slew of improvements to the popular desktop Linux distribution. Even Michael Dell's in on the buzz this time.*
Among the features that the Ubuntu team has been hard at work on are:
- Restricted Driver Manager - Allows you to easily install proprietary drivers for your hardware (like NVidia and some wifi drivers)
- Desktop-Effects - Ubuntu now has a single-click way of enabling wobbly windows!
- Easier codec installation - Suggests which package(s) you need to install in order to playback movies/audio when you don't have the right codec installed. (Hmmm, reminds me of something...)
I've been using Ubuntu 7.04 for a few weeks now, and I've found that it's much more polished than Edgy was (in terms of application stability and nice little touches). If you're going to dist-upgrade to 7.04, you probably won't notice very much difference besides the new artwork and the features I listed above. In fact, if you've already got all the right codecs installed, you'll probably never even see the easy codec installation thing (I haven't). That being said, these are still useful features because they save new users a good chunk of customization time.
Anyways, long story short: 7.04 is the best Ubuntu release since Dapper (6.06), and I think it might be finally worth giving a copy of it to your non-Linux user friends, without fear of total reject. Features like the restricted driver manager, migration assistant, and easy codec installation make Ubuntu an ever more user-friendly OS, and I think it's going to continue to impress people and make waves over the next few years.
* If you haven't been following the whole Dell/Linux thing, Dell launched this IdeaStorm site a while back to help get ideas from their users. They were totally swamped with requests for Linux and now they're trying to figure out which distro people want. Educated speculation: I'm expecting a big announcement sometime in the next few months about Dell offering Ubuntu on their laptops (which is a huge win for both Canonical and Ubuntu users, because it means we'll probably be getting better hardware support for those laptops.) Why? I just don't see them advertising that Michael Dell uses Ubuntu and then turning around and offering SUSE on their laptops.