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Here are 10 things we love about Ubuntu 13 and 5 things we hate
The latest version of Ubuntu, Raring Ringtail, is billed as being business and user-friendly. There are still obstacles to its widespread adoption in the enterprise, but if your employees only access applications via the browser, and your company doesn't use complex spreadsheet macros or document formats, then Ubuntu 13 might be worth considering.
We had no trouble installing it from scratch, and no trouble upgrading from the previous version of Ubuntu. Installation took about 20 minutes total, we saw no driver issues, and Wi-Fi worked right out the box. MP3 support is not included by default, but is an option during the installation process. The biggest problem we had with our initial install was that we couldn't run Google Chrome, but that problem has been fixed and we’ve downloaded and installed the browser.
By default, Ubuntu 13.04 comes with the Unity 7 interface. It's nice to look at, and fairly snappy. Existing Ubuntu users who like the Unity style will already be familiar with it. Those who don't like Unity have plenty of other user interfaces to choose from – unlike Windows and Apple platforms, Linux separates the back-end functionality of the operating system from the front-end look-and-feel.
Unlike in the Windows or Mac worlds, if you don’t like the interface, just pick a different one. Such as Gnome.
We liked the fact that Canonical includes a social media support feature. In our tests, we couldn't get the social media integration to work consistently – Tweets would appear on the desktop for a while, then disappear again. A Facebook launch icon would show up, sometimes, when Firefox was running, but not other times. But once these kinks are worked out, this feature will be very useful.
Ubuntu 13 comes with 5GB of free cloud storage with Ubuntu One.
Ubuntu 13 comes with access to the Steam game platform.
The Photo Lens feature allows you to see your photos from Facebook, Google Plus, and Picasa and other social accounts all in one place.
The built-in search functionality is fast, powerful, and includes online search results. The downside is that it also includes Amazon results.
By default, there is only one workspace. Windows users are accustomed to working in a single workspace, but Linux users have traditionally been able to work in multiple workspaces simultaneously. An experienced Linux user might have all their work applications open in one workspace, and all their games and social media in another. Power users can still get the multiple workspace feature back. Go to settings, appearance, and under the Behavior tab, click on “Enable Workspaces.”
There's no Microsoft Office, but LibreOffice is pre-installed and is a decent alternative for simple documents and spreadsheets. I've been using LibreOffice and OpenOffice for years without any problems. In fact, I like having the option to export to PDF built right in. Even “track changes” are supported. However, you may run into problems if your spreadsheets have macros or your Word documents have extremely complex formatting.
For example, we use Filemaker, which isn’t available on Ubuntu. Canonical is trying to address the lack of apps. There is also now paid software for download in the software center. This is good news, since we might start seeing more developers port their applications to the platform.
The first thing most people do when they switch to a new OS or load their current OS on a new machine is to personalize the background screen. Ubuntu makes this much harder than it needs to be.
For end users accustomed to the world of cut and paste, having to go to a command line in order to make changes to the OS could be a deal breaker when it comes to broadbased enterprise deployments.
If I'm a Windows user sitting down at a Linux machine for the first time, the first thing that jumps out at me is that there's a column of icons to the left of the screen, instead of at the bottom where I would expect a launcher bar to be on a PC or Mac. The power button is at the top right instead of the bottom left. This is different from both the PC and the Mac. Moving the launcher bar and power buttons to familiar locations would make the desktop more approachable for Windows and Apple users.
This is not a huge deal, but for users accustomed to finding the little icons for minimizing, maximizing and closing the window at the top right, look again. Ubuntu decided to put them at the top left. It is possible to fix this with a free program called Unity Tweaks. I installed it and was able to move the buttons to the top right, but when windows were maximized to take up the whole screen, they'd move back to the top left again. This is annoying, and difficult to get used to, especially if you switch back and forth between Linux and Windows computers on a regular basis.