Computeractive takes a look at what's new from Ubuntu Linux
I'm a big fan of Ubuntu, a free alternative to Windows that has some very cool features. It is fast, even on older hardware and some clever tricks such as integrating Facebook chat onto the Desktop. The company behind Ubuntu, Canonical, invited me to an event last night to talk about some of the new stuff they've got coming up. Read on to find out about their cloud storage service Ubuntu One and some very fast startup times.
Keeping files synchronised across several computers using the cloud is becoming very popular so Ubuntu One is not really a surprise.
Truth be told I'm a Dropbox user, but I'm happy to look at alternatives if they offer something more. Storage on the free account is about the same at 2GB. Dropbox offers a little more space if you're willing to promote it to friends.
The good news is that Ubuntu One offers more than simply storing files and keeping them in sync across several computers. It can also store bookmarks from Firefox, contacts from the email client in Ubuntu called Evolution and notes.
It can also do more with the storage when it comes to music with apps for iPhones and Android smartphones so you can stream music to the phone from the Ubuntu One account.
The Windows client is still in beta (ie test) so there are some features that aren't working yet but the full release is due soon and should present some serious competition for Dropbox.
Also making an appearance was Ubuntu Light, a fast booting version of Ubuntu designed to be installed on computers with Windows for those times when you just want to quickly check something on the web without having to wait ages. Having spent too much time waiting to load and then print a map from Google (normally with the wife and children waiting in the car), this sounds like a good idea.
To give some idea of the comparison, we had a little race to see how quickly we could load Ubuntu Light, make a quick websearch, find a track in the Music player and then call someone on Skype. Sadly my time of 1 minute 27 seconds wasn't enough to win but it was well under half the time that Windows on the same laptop managed.
There's no office software installed on Ubuntu Light though it's not meant for that and it can probably be added through the Software Centre.
Ubuntu Light is a good idea for getting people to give Ubuntu a go, and is genuinely useful. If I can get Flash installed on the browser, it may even be fast enough to load the CITV website without complaints from my impatient five year old. Or maybe that's an unfair test.
The last thing that the good people of Canonical were proudly showing off was the new Ubuntu font. It might not sound very exciting but there have been some poor fonts in the open source world. It is an attractive font and is easy to read.
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