Ubuntu 8.10: What's New?

Another six months, another Ubuntu release. This time around the table we have the Intrepid Ibex; 8.10. Not quite a ground-breaking release, but rather the framework for one. Why do I say that? Because there isn't much new immediately visible to the user. Let's take a look.

Right off the bat, most users will notice that the theme hasn't really changed a whole lot from 8.04. The reasoning to this I will leave for the reader to figure out. But don't leave disappointed, some of the new looks are available as an additional package. (Personally, I'm a fan of the Dust theme.)

The most noticeable changes are in the panel and its applets. First off, NetworkManager is now at version 0.7. This release brings more wireless options, built-in VPN support, DSL and static configurations, and even CDMA/GSM support for browsing on the go. At this point, you should never have to edit your network manually.

Another change was the removal of the logout button on the top-right of the panel layout. Instead, the user switching applet is placed there. This menu does it all: shutdown, restart, and other system actions are on the applet, but there is also a new "Guest session" option. Clicking on this locks your current session and opens a new one in a locked-down environment. If at any time someone wants to use your laptop or desktop, you can now open this guest session and not worry about them trying to access your files or destroying anything.

If you have Pidgin or GNOME's Empathy running, the user switching menu will also allow you to change your status with only a flick of the mouse.

Also included is GNOME 2.24 and the new features that come with it, such as Nautilus' tabs and drive utilities, but I won't iterate all of the changes here. Instead, check out the GNOME release notes.

Almost at the last minute, two new utilities were added to the array of administration applications. The first is "Cruft Remover," which makes an attempt at removing unused packages. However, it does also try to remove packages not installed from a repository, such as VirtualBox.

The next application is interesting: you can create a bootable USB startup disk. I haven't had the chance to try this feature out myself, but it seems straightforward: Insert a stock Ubuntu 8.10 disc and a USB flash drive or external HDD, and click. There is even an option to save your documents and settings back to the drive when you want to shut down, providing a nice "Ubuntu on the go" experience.

A less noticeable, yet highly useful "feature" is Xorg 7.4. This brings hotpluggable devices (I could plug in my Wacom tablet and not have to restart or install anything) and supposedly better stability. I would personally debate the stability due to some 3D problems, but that relies more on my graphics chipset and its drivers than X. But, as I said, this was a "framework" release. This version of X lays the groundwork for what will probably be known as DRI2 (aka wow-I-can-play-a-game-with-compiz-on). Those of you with ATI and Intel graphics chipsets will absolutely love this, however it won't be available for quite a while.

The rest of the features aren't major, but do make a system administrator's job a little easier. An encrypted private directory is available to store your private files, but it must be set up first. New versions of Samba, LDAP, the "uncomplicated firewall," and PAM are available to ease the process of connecting to other computers.

The new installer, however, does make the experience easier during partitioning, giving a nice visual image of your drives and changes before they are applied, plus other minor tweaks.

My verdict? If you're happy with Hardy, don't upgrade. If you want to try new things, give Intrepid a whirl. The usual slew of new packages is always an enticing reason to upgrade, but if you would rather stay stable, you aren't required to. The real action looks as if it will really start with Jaunty; what will be 9.04. See you in six months!

Avatar for jacob Jacob Peddicord - http://jacob.peddicord.net/

Jacob is a web developer, student, and programmer from Ohio. He is a staff member at the Ubuntu Forums and is most likely a fanboy of the distribution. He loves to write in code and words, play video games, and rant about topics most would have abandoned long ago. Jacob uses GNOME and is never seen running stable software, much to the demise of his laptop.

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Discussion: Ubuntu 8.10: What's New?

  1. Isaac (guest)

    # Posted on 30 October 2008 at 02:46 AM

    Excellent article! Very informative, concise, and helpful. I've got the 8.10 RC alternate image downloaded and shared via BitTorrent, and I'm all set to update it with JigDo* and share the updated image when "new release download frenzy" begins.

    I haven't tried the release candidate, but there seems to be some redundancy. The enhanced user switch applet seems nice, but I'm guessing there is still a "Quit" option in the System menu? The IM status functions seem nice too, but might only duplicate part of the Pidgin menu, while also having different icons.

    Regarding the last passage of the article: It seems like every time a new Ubuntu version releases, articles say that the following release will be the one to watch. I've used only Breezy, Dapper, Gutsy and Hardy, and maybe a tiny bit of Feisty once, and I've thought them all to be excellent. Particularly Dapper. What's missing? What awesome features should be in Intrepid, that aren't? I always look forward to using new releases, and checking out what's in the pipeline, but what will Jaunty have that will be so great?

    I <3 Ubuntu. I <3 Debian. :)

    • Yes, they don't capitalize it like that.

  2. Jacob (guest)

    # Posted on 30 October 2008 at 02:50 AM


    Yes, the logout options are still available from the System menu. And I also noticed the slight duplicity of the Pidgin status menus, but it does save a click or two.

    I personally thought 8.04 was a major release to "watch out for." Turned out it was. Same thoughts for 7.04 last year. It almost seems like the two-year cycle is repeating: this release would be equivalent to 6.10 (Edgy) in terms of polish (opinion) and hype.

  3. OnkelSkrue (guest)

    # Posted on 30 October 2008 at 08:42 AM

    I like the two new options in File Roller(split and encrypt), but you need to install 7zip for that to work(to bad they didn't include it).

    Empathy Instant Messenger gives us for the first time video and voice to Gtalk(and more to come), to bad they didn't include it.

    The Dust theme and New Wave is very nice, thanks for the tip.

    Ubuntu 8.10 is working very well on my pc so far(3 days), very happy with it.

  4. Isaac (guest)

    # Posted on 30 October 2008 at 09:55 AM

    Ah, that makes sense. I hadn't considered the timing of the releases, and their subsequent relationship to each other. It does seem like each release has its own sort of personality.

    I was looking forward to Hardy very much as well, since I liked the pace of going from LTS to LTS, and had been using Dapper since its release. I'm very pleased with it.

    I'm anticipating Intrepid almost exclusively for improved behavior between PulseAudio and Flash. I'm not sure if fixes in that area will be backported to Hardy.

  5. # Posted on 31 October 2008 at 09:44 AM

    [...] Ubuntu 8.10: What’s New? [...]

  6. # Posted on 31 October 2008 at 10:21 AM

    [...] aqui o FOSSwire e um pouco mais sobre o novo [...]

  7. # Posted on 09 November 2008 at 02:00 PM

    [...] because of the brown human theme. I downloaded the “community-themes” after reading the Fosswire roundup on Ubuntu 8.10 where Jacob mentioned that he liked the Dust theme. I didn’t, actually I didn’t like [...]

  8. sportember (guest)

    # Posted on 01 December 2008 at 04:33 AM

    I really liked some news in the GNOME Release notes, but I could not find some things in Ubuntu 8.10 - yet. Two important app would be the "Track Your Time Better" stuff and Ekiga 3.0. Maybe I miss some important information?

    Do anyone knows something about the time-tracking applet mentioned on the GNOME website?

  9. hyrcan (guest)

    # Posted on 07 January 2009 at 05:24 AM

    @sportember: The "Track Your Time Better" applet is called hamster-applet, which you can get by: sudo apt-get install hamster-applet

    But I have my doubts that it's the current version, as I've not been able to get it to work on a clean install.

    Ekiga is also stuck in version 2 land...

  10. flollaboido (guest)

    # Posted on 05 January 2011 at 09:50 PM

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