Ubuntu 8.10 - Comprehensive Review of 10 Main Features

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Monday, October 27, 2008

Ubuntu, right from its release, has been a very popular open source operating system for Linux lovers around the world. It has gained wide popularity even with non-techies for its ease of use and superb user interface. With its new release (Ubuntu 8.10 codenamed Intrepid Ibex) due in just 3 days’ time, the hype and speculations are really reaching their heights. Ubuntu (loosely translated as humanity) has promised to bring out a strong and adventurous (as proposed by the codename) operating system this time. Let us look at the features that you can get your desktop from 30th October, 2008.


In the early February when it started, the developers had fixed their priority on  desktop offering and mobile networking. Let us see what they have to offer now.

1. GNOME 2.24

Without going further into what GNOME is actually, let me introduce you to the new features that are there in Ubuntu 8.10

  • a time-tracking application
  • a SIP-based audio/visual conferencing client called Ekiga, that works with USB webcams and headphones and is compatible with any SIP-compliant service.
  • Some applets that add advanced functions to your desktop such as
  1. accessx-status: indicates keyboard accessibility settings, including the current state of the keyboard, if those features are in use.
  2. Battstat: monitors the power subsystem on a laptop.
  3. Character palette: provides a convenient way to access non-standard characters, such as accented characters, mathematical symbols, special symbols, and punctuation marks.
  4. GNOME CPUFreq Applet: CPU frequency scaling monitor.
  5. Geyes: pair of eyes which follow the mouse pointer around the screen.
  6. Keyboard layout switcher: lets you assign different keyboard
  7. Mixer: volume control.
  8. Modem Monitor: monitors the modem.
  9. System monitor: CPU, memory, network, swap file and resource.
  10. Weather report: downloads weather information from the U.S National Weather
  11. Service (NWS) servers: including the Interactive Weather Information
  • GNOME also includes an enhanced tab-based file manager named Nautilus which also has eject icons for removable drives in Places sidebar
  • A smart search utility is there that solves basic math and allows you to search popular sites directly, and more advanced resolution controls for X.Org.
  • Gnome 2.24 also includes much needed enhancements for mobile users, with better Bluetooth support and support for Offline access to Exchange servers using the Evolution application which, if in effect, will be a very good addition.

2. X.Org 7.4

Unlike Gnome 2.24, X.Org 7.4 doesn’t have a lot of enhancements and disappoints us there. But, it has got rid of a very annoying feature by means of

  • Hotplugging support for input devices actually works now, so you can plug in mice and tablets and use them without having to reboot.
  • The display control feature also gets a hand. Users will be able to adjust resolutions and screen placement for single and multiple monitor displays easily.
  • xserver-xorg-input-all will be there to accept a wider range of input devices.
  • Window System development libraries will be included there
  • X.Org X Window System will come with higher level of metapackages. It will provide an improved performance on the components for a standalone workstation running the X Window System.

3. Linux Kernel 2.6.27

The 2.6.27 kernel offers the usual mix of performance enhancements, power user features, and support for new hardware. The pin pointed features we will look forward to are

  • Speed enhancements to the Ext4 file system
  • Better support for USB webcams
  • Improved battery performance for mobile users!
  • 2.6.27 add a new filesystem (UBIFS) optimized for “pure” flash-based storage devices
  • There will be plenty of modules too. You will see them in effect from your new OS. It will be too long discuss them here.

DKMS (by Dell) is included in Ubuntu 8.10, allowing kernel drivers to be automatically rebuilt when new kernels are released. That gets rid of annoying third-party packages to be installed manually.

4. Encrypted Private Directory

The encrypted private directory option is perhaps the biggest new feature in Ubuntu 8.10. The ecryptfs-utils package is installed and if you want to see how it goes then open a terminal and type

sudo aptitude install ecryptfs-utils

It helps the user to provide a default location for users to securely store sensitive data using filesystem encryption, ~/Private for each human user with permission 700.
Though I have a doubt about file encryption when the file name or folder name is not encrypted. True crypt is what I will prefer. But its nice to see Ubuntu introduced it at least.

5. Guest Session

The User Switcher panel now provides an extra entry for starting a Guest session. This creates a temporary password-less user account with restricted privileges such as

  • The account cannot access any users’ home directories (as guest already happens to be in default at.deny)
  • he can not permanently store data.

This is a very useful feature for anyone who has a knack of helping unknown people by lending his laptop to him for mail checks, though it contains sensitive data. Take my friend for an example.

6. Network Manager 0.7

The new Network Manager is a great improvement over the previous release. It gives you a host of features like

  • It allows your Ubuntu machine to connect to the network before a user logs in.
  • It supports 3G connections
  • Multiple simultaneous connections
  • Sets up PPPoE
  • Management of devices with static IP configurations
  • Route management for devices

Someone who is using multiple wireless networks, if he switches to the next one then he must be taken to the next most strongly encrypted WLAN. This is what they are working on now. By default network managers take the connection to the next WLAN irrespective of the encryption setting. That is to be changed.

7. Samba 3.2

The Samba software suite is a collection of programs that implements the SMB/CIFS protocol for unix systems, allowing you to serve files and printers to Windows, NT, OS/2 and DOS clients. This protocol is sometimes also referred to as the LanManager or NetBIOS protocol.
The packages installed in Samba 3.2 are

  • samba-common (Samba common files used by both the server and the client)
  • samba-tools (tools provided by the Samba suite)
  • smbclient (a LanManager-like simple client for Unix)
  • swat (Samba Web Administration Tool) and others too.

Samba 3.2 gives the user a lot supports like,

  • clustered file server support
  • encrypted network transport
  • ipv6 support
  • better integration with the latest version of Microsoft Windows™ clients and servers.

Some More Features that You will Like

8. Better Web Audio/Video Support

Ubuntu now supports the high-quality setting in YouTube.
It features a new plugin for the Totem movie player that fetches free digital content from the BBC.

To enable it, start Totem (Applications -> Sound & Video -> Movie Player), enable the plugin (Edit -> Plugins -> BBC content viewer) and select “BBC”

9. LiveCD Installer Updates

  • The desktop installer now presents a slide-show while copying files to explain basic concepts to new users while they wait.
  • The desktop installer contains many visual enhancements, such as an image of the partition table and password strength meter.
  • LiveCD Acceleration Toolkit will be there to help you with profiling for boot and etc.

10. LiveUSB disc

An application is developed to convert and write Ubuntu CD images to USB disks. it will be very easy to install Ubuntu to a flash drive and carry it around.

In Conclusion

As we wrap up this segment, what is the bottom line? The bottom line is to wait for a very feature-rich and sophisticated network enabled operating system, Ubuntu release - Intrepid Ibex. Ubuntu 8.10 has every potential to become the most user-friendly open source operating systems till date, giving the unpopular Microsoft Windows Vista a run for its money.

BTW: Keep an eye on this blog for detailed coverage of Windows 7 tomorrow.


December 1, 2008: 10:10 am

I am troubled by the fact that X almost completely ignores
xorg.conf I had to do
sudo mv /usr/lib/gdm/gdmgreeter /usr/lib/gdm/gdmgreeter.fu
then create my own gdmgreeter with
/usr/bin/xrandr -s 1440×900
then chmod +x /usr/lib/gdm/gdmgreeter
Just so my log in screen would be readable
Ubuntu and linux seem to be headed down the road of Window$ wherein the user is presumed clueless and the operating system knows ALL.

November 3, 2008: 10:58 pm

@ ubuntu user

ubiquity had an error but they had wanted to go on with it. I suppose its still being patched. I haven’t installed the latest one after its officially declared. I will have to n see.
thanks for pointing out though. anybody else having a similar problem?

ubuntu user
November 3, 2008: 9:10 am

LiveCD Installer Updates

* The desktop installer now presents a slide-show while copying files to explain basic concepts to new users while they wait.

i never got them!!!
i have installed ubuntu 8.10 3 times using 2 diff image files. not once did i see slideshows during installation

October 31, 2008: 3:19 am

If you remember the Hardy Heron ubuntu (8.04), this theme is from that previous release. The New one has a very similar one with it by default.

Hope you people will like it.


October 30, 2008: 10:21 pm

Yes, please, the name of that theme! It’s stunning.

October 30, 2008: 8:33 pm

[...] Simple Thoughts - Ubuntu 8.10 Comphrensive Review [...]

October 27, 2008: 10:54 am

Nice overview. I am looking forward to this Thursday even more!

October 27, 2008: 10:20 am

The desktop screenshot at the very beginning of the article is just…WOOW !!
Would you mind sharing what theme was used and what’s the name of the wallpaper too ?

October 27, 2008: 10:16 am

Maybe there isn’t any :)

Ubuntu is a great operating system by all counts. For performance conscious or those running slower machines there is always Xubuntu.

Davey V.S
October 27, 2008: 10:06 am

Exactly. why not any con by the author?

A great article though. keep it up

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