Ubuntu 12.10 review: Quantal Quetzal is quite adequate

Ubuntu 12.10 is nice, but not life-changing. Here's some advice on whether to upgrade, depending on your current desktop situation.

Let's cut right to the chase: Ubuntu 12.10 is a totally, 100%, utterly, completely acceptable release.

It has some new features. It has some bug fixes. In almost every way, it is very, very similar to Ubuntu 12.04 - which makes a great deal of sense, considering that the two releases are only six months apart.

Over the next few days you are going to read a number of articles on this wonderful internet of ours about how Ubuntu has now integrated Amazon shopping into the desktop. This is, in no way, a bad thing...and anyone complaining about it is simply being a big baby.

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Here's the skinny - when you click on the "Ubuntu Button" in the top left of the launcher bar, you can search for things - applications, documents and other various sundry items - on your PC. Well, now it will also show you potential matches of things you can buy from Amazon. If you buy one of those items you will be helping to fund Ubuntu. Find this annoying? There's a quick setting that lets you completely turn it off. Not a problem.

It’s quite the opposite of a problem, in fact. I love that Canonical (the company behind Ubuntu) is working on multiple, practical ways to fund continued development of our beloved orange and purple operating system. Sustainably funding open source development is a big issue and it's great to see companies trying to address it like this. I would go so far as to say that anybody who complains about this Amazon/Ubuntu integration secretly hates Linux and Open Source and wants to see both fail. (I kid. Kind of.)

But what are some of the other new features?

  • There is the new ability to "pin" various Web Apps (think Facebook and Twitter) to the Unity sidebar and treat them as if they were desktop applications.
  • In-Dash previews that allow you to perform some quick operations, such as installing apps and listening to some tunes, without opening other apps.
  • The log-in screen now has an option to let you log directly into a remote desktop.
  • A bunch of little improvements to Ubuntu One (Canonical's cloud storage and music service) desktop integration.

All totally cool...but not really any "must have" or "deal breaker" features. The net result is that Ubuntu 12.10 is a nice, small improvement over Ubuntu 12.04, which is exactly what you would expect with six months of development time.

Are you a current Ubuntu user on 12.04? Upgrade to 12.10...but don't fret about being in a rush to do so. It's a good upgrade, but it isn't going to change your life forever.

Still using an older (read: "Pre-Unity") version of Ubuntu? It’s time to upgrade. The Unity desktop environment and user experience is polished enough now that I can safely recommend it to anyone (even Gnome 2 die-hards).

Using a non-Ubuntu Linux distro? Honestly, if Ubuntu 12.04 didn't pull you away from Fedora, openSUSE, etc...then 12.10 isn't going to either. Then again, if you never gave the last release a try, the new version is a completely acceptable place to jump in.

What if, let's say, you work at Apple? You should probably install Ubuntu 12.10 and live in it for a few weeks. You know, just to see what a well-designed desktop environment - that looks nice while not getting in your way - is like.

Just sayin’.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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