If you have been using Windows all your life, it’s no secret that switching to Linux is not an easy decision to make. Last September I was fed up with Windows Vista and decided to make the plunge.
It wasn’t easy. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. The day where I can recommend that my father use Linux (without the fear of him calling me on a daily basis to fix things) is the day I’ll proclaim the “year of the Linux desktop” has arrived.
I’ve spent hours upon hours trying to get things working, and as time goes on, those problems get easier to solve. One problem that I find runs rampant in the Linux community is over-using jargon, acronyms and sometimes even program names that people just assume you know what they’re talking about. It’s not intentional, but sometimes it’s difficult for me to wade through, even after using it exclusively for near 8 months.
Ubuntu, who has made tremendous progress towards making life in Linux easier has it’s own share of problems. One of those problems is highlighted in their release notes.
Ubuntu claims to be a “Linux for Human Beings,” and for the most part they actually do a good job of it. One place they fail miserably is in their release notes – they’re just too damn complicated for anyone who doesn’t know what all the different component names stand for.
I’ve set out to accomplish the simple task of converting the techno-jargon into readable english that anyone can understand, by using simple language and avoiding program names, acronyms and version numbers.
A fantastic example of getting the “Feature List” documented properly, while not overwhelming the end user is the absolutely gigantic 300+ New Features list for Mac OS X Leopard. I’m not kidding.
Just about every documented feature describes what value the change is for the user. This is what is important! Users don’t care about the latest version of Program X, they want to know what benefits they’ll see from the new version.
I’m targeting Ubuntu here, since it’s what I still use on my desktop. They also have a petition on their user-submitted idea website to stop including such technical information in the release notes so “mere mortals” can understand what is changing in the new versions.
With that out of the way, let’s get started. First, the name of the upcoming release, which is less than a month away is called “Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 LTS” Even the name needs to be explained for someone who is brand new:
Ubuntu is the name of the distribution.
Hardy Heron is the “Codename” of the release.
8.04 is the version, which designates that it is being released in 2008, in April (the fourth month).
LTS means software and security updates are provided for three years.
Now that we have the name, codename, version, and support defined, let’s go a little further into the rabbit hole.
New Features since the last release:
The latest version of Ubuntu includes upgraded core software which helps to save electricity for some of the newer 64-bit computers and laptops purchased in the last 5 years. This core upgrade also improves performance as well as new support for more hardware like printers, scanners, and other peripherals.
Enjoy a better first-time installation experience with our improved screen settings detection system. If problems arise with display settings, your computer should be able to recover gracefully.
There is a new utility to change your screen size, which is especially useful if you have two monitors. This also means that if you have a laptop and an external display (i.e. projector or 2nd monitor) you’ll be able to change things like screen size, and choose which monitor is your primary output easier in the latest version.
Hurray! The computer and file browser has been updated! This version has new features for pausing large file transfers, and also makes it possible to undo accidental file moves. If you try to send files to a folder you don’t have permissions for, you will be asked for the system password to complete the requested operation, instead of getting a nasty error message.
If you attempt to make changes to the computer that would normally require a system password to access, there is a new “Unlock” button on some dialogs to make it easier to understand what needs to be done to change the setting.
The new sound system is fantastic! Now you can play movies, music, and voice chat at the same time without running into problems.
We have upgraded to the newest version of the award winning internet browser, Firefox. It looks better and runs faster than before, while still remaining as secure as ever. We think you’ll like the improved experience.
Downloading large files has a new, more informative interface. You can easily see download speeds, percent completed and estimated time to completion.
The remote control application has been updated. You’ll be happy to know that accessing multiple computers is now easier than ever, and you can automatically find other computers to connect to on the same network.
Burning CDs and DVDs just got a whole lot easier with an easy to use wizard-based program.
Displaying Time and Weather in other time zones is simplified, thanks to our new World Clock program.
We added in a program for making posters, signs, family tree charts, and everything else that you might think about taking to a print shop. Now we can save those files in a format that your print shop technician can use.
If you have a “Windows-only network” at work, you’ll be able to login to the network easier if you take your computer into the office.
Many additional security issues have been resolved before they ever became a problem in our latest release, thanks to our development team who specializes in finding bugs – before they find you. We also updated our firewall software, just in case.
If you thought you needed help in the past to get Ubuntu on your computer that has Microsoft Windows on it right now, you’ll be happy to hear that we have integrated a new installer that works right in Windows. Just put in the CD and you will automatically see the Ubuntu Setup menu, just type in your desired username and password and press “Install” – it’s that easy to get started.
One more thing.., we made also changed to the way your computer works with hard drives and other memory so that it runs faster. How nice of us!
Need to know more? Check out our detailed release notes.
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This message was paid for by The Linux Isn’t Just For Geek Types Anymore Campaign.