Inside Ubuntu 9.04

Critics are calling 'Jaunty Jackalope' as slick and seamless as Mac OS X. We uncover the Linux distro's pitfalls and gotchas -- as well as its hidden delights.

Build someone else a USB boot drive with Ubuntu 9.04 on it, right from your desktop.
(click for image gallery)

A Few Caveats

I mentioned earlier that you'll want to check and make sure power-management functions work as intended. I ran into this headlong when I tried both the release candidate and the final 9.04 release on my Sony notebook, and instantly ran into problems: the keyboard didn't work after a suspend-and-resume cycle. (Rather disappointing, since earlier versions of Ubuntu had worked perfectly.) Hibernate-and-resume, though, didn't have this issue. I've since opened a bug report about it .

If you have an existing collection of music files -- as in, MP3s -- be warned that MP3 playback is not installed by default in Ubuntu. It has to be added after the fact, since shipping the OS with MP3 codecs might run afoul of patent issues in some countries. The good news: if you try to play just such a file, Ubuntu will attempt to automatically detect what's being played and offer to install the components needed.

The same goes for Flash support -- nobody likes being stuck without their favorite YouTube videos! Click on a page that requires Flash in Firefox, and you'll get a prompt at the top to install the needed plug-ins. Use the "Gnash" plug-in to get Flash going (be sure to restart Firefox after you install it), and for certain Flash-embedded videos that require multimedia codecs, you'll be prompted to add the needed codecs in the same manner as when you try to play MP3s. Finally, you might need to restart any program that depends on such codecs after they're installed, or they may not recognize that anything's changed.

Spread The Open Source Love

Ubuntu was meant to be shared. Aside from making copies of the installation CD or DVD (via the CD/DVD Creator in Applications | Accessories), you can also build USB flash drives with a copy of the installer on board. For this you'll need either a copy of the disk image (the .ISO file) or the CD itself, but Ubuntu supplies a utility to create a bootable flash drive from either of those things. It's in System | Administration | USB Startup Disk Creator.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the most innovative startup technology companies. Download the report here (registration required).