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Alexander Wolfe
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Ubuntu Adds Ho-Hum Features In Latest 'Gutsy Gibbon' Alpha

Ubuntu, the Linux distro which I've personally found to be somewhat less than it's cracked up to be -- your mileage may vary -- is getting an update.

Ubuntu, the Linux distro which I've personally found to be somewhat less than it's cracked up to be -- your mileage may vary -- is getting an update.The latest rev is the fifth alpha release of Gutsy Gibbon. (Ubuntu uses these too-cool-to-live names for its releases; the current production release is called Feisty Fawn. In conventional software terms, Feisty is Ubuntu 7.04 and Gutsy, upon production release in October, will be version 7.10.)

The fifth alpha, aka Gutsy Gibbon Tribe 5, is billed in the Ubuntu weekly newsletter as "the absolute latest and greatest software the open-source community has to offer." What might that mean? According to the newsletter:

"As usual, this tribe brings you the latest and greatest GNOME (the first public beta of what will soon become 2.20), with a lot of bug fixes compared to Tribe 4. New Features for Firefox: Ubufox ships two new, hot Ubuntu Firefox features -- Apt-Enabled Plugin Finder Wizard and Extension Manager integration."

That's mostly unexciting stuff. (Bug fixes? Hey, I thought Ubuntu was perfect.) True, the Firefox stuff is helpful, since Firefox is the browser of choice for Linux users. A new printing feature, described here, also is interesting: It allows you to generate PDF files from apps which don't have native PDF output, including Firefox.

More notable in Gusty (as compared with Feisty) is a new GUI tool to make it easier to configure your graphics card, set up your monitor resolution and refresh rate, and configure dual monitors. Such a tool has, of course, long been standard in Windows, the operating system many Linux users love to hate. Regardless, the maturation of the feature in Gusty Gibbon is both worthy and welcome.

As I've argued previously, there are far too many Linux distros to sow anything but confusion among potential converts from Windows.

True, Ubuntu has set itself apart from the pack, mainly on the basis of the strength of its user community. Ubuntu's second significant boost toward the mainstream came earlier this year, when Dell decided to offer it on several laptops and desktops.

Whether an upgraded release, focused on improved drivers, bug fixes, and some nice but not very revolutionary tools, can do anything additional to increase the already overblown publicity Ubuntu has received is doubtful. Still, it's hard to argue with success, and it's seeming more and more like Ubuntu is the face of consumer Linux future, whether it deserves to be or not.

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