Ubuntu 10.10, aka Maverick Meerkat, is the latest stable release of the Debian-based Linux distribution. This is the second and the last release for the year. As is customary for Ubuntu, three editions were released: The Desktop, Netbook, and Server editions. This article offers a detailed review of the desktop edition.
And as is the custom on this website, we begin by looking at the installation program and process.
Installation: On the surface, the installation program on Ubuntu 10.10 looks more advanced than the one in the last stable release. In reality, however, they are the same. The difference is mostly cosmetic. One cosmetic change you will observe when running the installer is shown in the screenshot below. It is a check list of sorts. The first and last item on that list make sense, but the second does not. “… Ensure that this computer is plugged into a power source.” Really! How else could I be reading that installation check list if my computer is not plugged into a power source? I want to believe that there is something about that second item that I missed. If you know what it is, please drop a comment.
The installer still lacks support for LVM, RAID, and full disk encryption. The only encryption feature it has is home folder encryption, which just encrypts a user’s home folder if the “Encrypt my home folder” option is checked. Keep in mind that this option does not offer partition-level encryption. For example, if you create a separate partition for /home and you check “Encrypt my home folder,” your home folder will be encrypted, but the partition will not.
If you chose to encrypt your home folder, you will see the message shown in the image below the first time you log in. Note that this folder-level encryption does not offer the same level of physical security as full disk encryption. If you need to install Ubuntu 10.10 on an encrypted disk, you will have to use the Alternate installation image.
As on virtually all current Linux distributions, the default journaling file system is ext4. Others supported are ext3, jfs, reiserfs, and xfs. Ubuntu 10.10 is the first stable version of the Ubuntu desktop to offer support for btrfs, the B-Tree file System. You might want to read how to install Ubuntu on a btrfs file system. The boot loader is GRUB 2 (version 1.98).
A very cool, new feature (this one is not cosmetic) of the Ubuntu installer is the “multi-tasking” feature, which makes it possible to perform other installation tasks while the installer is copying files. At the installation step shown in the image below, for example, you can click on the Forward button to move to the next task, while files are still being copied.
And if the installer has finished copying files before you complete the other tasks, it will patiently wait for you. In the beta edition, “Log in automatically” was enabled by default. However, in this stable release, “Require my password to log in,” which is the right option, is enabled.