Canonical on Thursday released Ubuntu 13.04, also known as “Raring Ringtail,” on the desktop.
However, the release failed to thrill many reviewers, whose complaints included the point that Canonical had left out several features, including privacy protection and the Windows-based Ubuntu Installer, or WUBI, and hived off the “Gwibber” social networking feature to create a separate application, now called “Friend,” that has to be downloaded separately.
“In the reviews that I looked at, the main complaints were that Canonical had essentially dumbed down Ubuntu and made it more difficult to customize and personalize,” commented Charles King, principal at Pund-IT.
“If you’re trying to drive Linux into a broader user base, having a default user interface and a reliable, continual customer experience is really how you do that,” he said.
“We think Ubuntu 13.04 is the best version of Ubuntu Desktop ever,” Rick Spencer, VP Ubuntu Engineering, told LinuxInsider. “Across the board, the performance is faster, and the UI is faster and more visually refined than ever. The Dash search results are more complete, and the Dash experience is more efficient than any previous release.”
While the shelving of some legacy features such as WUBI “will probably be viewed as a bad thing by entrenched users, I would assume that Ubuntu has done its homework with regard to actual feature uptake in previous versions,” Bill Weinberg, senior director at Olliance Consulting, a division of Black Duck Software, told LinuxInsider.
What Raring Ringtail Includes
Ubuntu 13.04 includes updated applications such as LibreOffice 4.0, the latest Chromium and Firefox Web browsers and Thunderbird email client, and updates to system-level components to improve performance, Spencer said.
It “includes a rich application development ecosystem for Ubuntu Touch application developers, including the Ubuntu software development kit, Qt Creator with Ubuntu plugins, and extensive documentation,” he added.
The SDK will make a single application for all devices Ubuntu will run on, and publish it to the Ubuntu Software Center with one upload.
“In essence, they’re aiming for a more predictable experience, and I think that could make this a potentially interesting offer for businesses that want to get out from underneath the cost and upgrade cycle of Windows,” Pund-IT’s King told LinuxInsider.
With Ubuntu 13.04, Canonical has also halved the support period for the regular non-long-term releases of Ubuntu to nine months.
Ubuntu 13.04’s Appeal to the Enterprise
Raring Ringtail appears to have been developed with an eye to increasing Ubuntu’s appeal to businesses. WUBI was dropped because it caused problems with Windows 8, for example. Further, Raring Ringtail offers enhancements to the Juju orchestration graphical user interface, making it easier to deploy and manage cloud-based workloads.
Also, Ubuntu 13.04 is built for hyperscale and is the only distribution of OpenStack that makes high-availability a standard feature. Enterprises on 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) can upgrade to the latest OpenStack version, Grizzly, from the Ubuntu Cloud Archive.
Canonical is collaborating with VMware so organizations can link OpenStack clouds to VMware technologies, including VMware vSphere and Nicira NVP (network virtualization platform). Such deployments will be supported on Ubuntu.
“That’s interesting, because the Linux kernel already includes different types of virtualization technology, including Xen and KVM (kernel-based virtual machine),” Dan Kusnetzky, founder of the Kusnetzky Group, told LinuxInsider. “Maybe they want to be part of that larger ecosystem [that VMware serves].”
However, Canonical expects that enterprises with large Ubuntu deployments will stick to version 1.204 LTS “because of the five-year support that the long-term support releases include,” Spencer remarked.
Ubuntu’s also targeting other markets — King mentioned receiving an email from Alienware about the X51 gaming desktop, which runs on Ubuntu.
“A Linux-based gaming platform,” he mused. “Who would have thought?”