Out of the box, the system is configured to check for updates (via the Update Manager) once daily, and to notify the user (via the Update Notifier) when updates are available. The Update Notifier is supposed to put an icon in the notification area, but on my test system, the icon never appeared even after the Update Manager had indicated that there were updates available.
Administrative Tools: Almost all the graphical administrative tools are accessible from the menu – System > Preferences, and System > Administration. Most are part of any GNOME-based distribution.
The USB Startup Disk Creator (System > Administration > Startup Disk Creator), makes it easy to install Ubuntu on a USB flash drive. The flash disk may then be used to install Ubuntu on computers without an optical drive or just be used as a Live USB system with persistent storage.
Another useful utility is the System Testing tool (System > Administration > System Testing), which makes it easy to test and view test reports on virtually all aspects of the system. If you want to run the tests, better to run them in batches, and not with all enabled as shown below. The tests can take a long time to run, and they are interactive.
When a test session is completed, you may view the report and/or submit it to Canonical. If you choose to view the report, it will open in a browser tab or window.
Here is a section of a test report viewed on Firefox.
Media and Hardware Detection: Out of the box, Firefox, the lone Web browser installed, passed the Java test and plays Flash videos. Java handling is courtesy of the OpenJDK Java 6 Runtime Environment (JRE). Sun Java JRE is in the repository, and also in the Software Center’s list of featured applications.
Because libdvdcss is not installed, Totem, the default video player could not play encrypted DVD videos. However, by running sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh from a shell terminal, you can install libdvdcss and then be able to play your commercial DVD video. Rhythmbox is the default audio CD player, and it works as intended. A new addition to the list of music stores accessible from Rhythmbox is the Ubuntu One Music Store. That makes it three music stores accessible from Rhythmbox. The others are Jamendo and Magnatune.
With CUPS, the Common UNIX Printing System, installed and running by default, printer configuration was simply plug-and-print.
Security Profile and Posture: The default CUPS port (631) is the only open port, and it is accessible only from the localhost, not even from other computers on the network. Ufw, Ubuntu’s user-friendly interface to IPTables/Netfilter, the Linux firewall application, is in an inactive stateful tracking mode by default. Also, there is no graphical firewall client installed (there are five in the repository).
The AppArmor module is loaded and in enforcing mode. AppArmor is a kernel-space mandatory access control application with a role similar to what SELinux plays on Fedora and Fedora-derived distributions. Ten profiles are loaded by default. You may view the loaded profiles by running sudo apparmor_status from a shell terminal.
Final Thoughts and Suggestions: Ubuntu 10.10 is a better stable release than Ubuntu 10.04, whose list of know issues was much more than I am used to seeing with stable distribution releases. In contrast, the list of know issues associated with Ubuntu 10.10 much less. The only significant issue I experienced in the course of writing this review is that the Update Notifier failed to notify. And it is not even in the list of know issues. Aside from that, everything worked as intended. However, that does not mean that it is perfect, because it is not. To help along those lines, here are my suggestions
- Ubiquity, the Ubuntu installer, needs more than just cosmetic changes. It needs a decent dose of standard Linux features. I am referring to support for LVM, full disk encryption, and password-protection option for GRUB, the bootloader.
- The default Ubuntu desktop is about as bland as you can get. I think it is about time to spice it up with Cairo-Dock, The latest edition of Cairo-Dock works perfectly out of the box, and the effect is more than just eye-candy. It is a productivity-enhancing application. You may view some screenshots of the Ubuntu desktop with Cairo Dock in place of the lower panel, and read how to spice up Ubuntu 10.10 desktop.
- It would be nice to see a media center application, like Enna, Moovida or XBMC, fully integrated into the desktop in the same fashion that XBMC is integrated into the Sabayon desktop