Well, comrades, it’s almost here. Seems like it wasn’t that long ago I was getting excited about the arrival of Ubuntu 9.10, and here we are at Ubuntu’s next big milestone. Despite the fact that few, if any, of those I know or who read this blog will make the switch, but I’ll tell you why I’m excited anyway…
Sadly, Ubuntu 9.10 wasn’t exactly a beauty queen, a speed demon or a pillar of strength. I found it to be the buggiest Linux I’ve used in a long time, but we got along in hopes that 10.04 – being a LTS or “long-term support” release – would right the wrongs. Having tested the 10.04 beta and release candidate builds, I’m feeling confident that will happen. Gone is the flaky external monitor switching. Gone is the crumby printing stability. Gone is the annoying notification scheme and impossible instant messenger.
Oh, and here to stay is a new Corsair Reactor R60 solid state disk. When I slid this little monster into my HP and loaded up Lucid’s release candidate, the machine zoomed from BIOS to rock-and-roll in 8 seconds. Before I’ve even used it a day, I’m confident that anyone looking for a serious performance boost from their laptop should seriously consider switching to an SSD.
So tomorrow, you can count me among those who’ll be downloading the Ubuntu 10.04 ISO and loading it up. For some, it’ll be a new and perhaps scary experience. For others, it’ll be life-changing. And for me, it’ll just be a welcome relief.
In our home, we’ve got nearly the entire technology spectrum covered… Kelly happily carries a simple flip phone, and I rock the Droid – and I secretly enjoyed being able to claim the latest-and-greatest until today. Laptop-wise, we’ve got my beastie HP business laptop on the large end, Kelly’s svelte netbook on the small end. Our tech fits us (not the other way around, I might add) and for good measure (and good backup) we’ve even got a server humming in the office. Experience-wise, we’re no Gizmodo, but I think we’ve got a decent-enough handle on where different form-factors work.
Which is what confuses me so much about yesterday’s newly-announced Lenovo Skylight:
The Lenovo Skylight - Source: Lenovo Press Release
There was a time when you could query nearly any Linux user and learn about all sorts of things that couldn’t be done under Linux. Whether it was the latest digital camera, a quirky scanner driver, a proprietary video card or a problematic printer, it seemed using Linux-based operating systems was an uphill battle and nothing “just worked”.
These days – at least if my experience this past week is any indication – the times seem to be a-changin’. My family and I had the good fortune and blessing to spend the recent Thanksgiving holiday with my Aunt and Cousin in Southern California, and a patently wonderful time was had by all. We Northerners all got to have some grand new experiences – sailing a 35-foot Hunter Legend around San Diego Bay, enjoying wine and appetizers on an 80° Thanksgiving afternoon, and seeing a Tesla Roadster up-close-and-personal were just a few. But as a Linux user, I got to have an unusual new experience that my Windows- and Mac-OS-piloting kin couldn’t share: I finally got to enjoy being the only one who could enjoy a completely-obvious and should-just-work feature of my computer that everyone else couldn’t.
Between my family and myself, we have all the major OSs covered. Present at the Thanksgiving feast this year were two Windows XP laptops, three Mac OS-X notebooks, and my trusty HP 6710b running Ubuntu Linux 9.04. In the next room, there was an HP DeskJet LaserJet 1020, which – it turns out – became an unwitting participant in our Thanksgiving week adventures. The 1020, you see, isn’t supported by HP under Mac OS X. No drivers, no instructions, no work-arounds … nada. But under Linux? Three clicks – two of them on “Next” buttons – and my Ubuntu test page was sliding out of the heretofore-recalcitrant printer. Not even the Windows users present could claim that sort of ease – they still had to download and install drivers from HP’s website.
Maybe it’s just me – and I’m admittedly biased – but I thought Macs were supposed to be easy to use, and just work! And I thought Linux was “supposed” to be for power-users only, difficult and cryptic, and fraught with ventures into the scary world of the command-line! I didn’t win any Linux converts during our week on the West coast, but I did get to enjoy a new and unusual experience, one that I’m sure will be replicated many times over as Linux shines as a truly ready-for-mainstream operating system.
Yes, this is last minute, but I just found out about an upcoming webcast – in theory – announcing the forthcoming Google Chrome OS. Watch here for updates…
13:02 EST — Apparently some presenters are stuck in traffic, webcast will begin soon…
13:05 EST — Webcast beginning – Google VP of prod development speaking. No launch today, about a year away from announcing a release… Lots of progress thus far…
13:06 EST — As of today, the code will be fully Open Source. Google developers will work on the same source tree as the rest of the world. Google Chrome is the foundation of everything being done.
13:10 EST — Tons of new stuff coming this year in Chrome. Chrome for Mac ready for production use before end of 2009. Same for Chrome for Linux. Extensions system will be significantly enhanced as well. Extensions will be automatically kept up-to-date for users. Google is working hard to give web applications more opportunities to access system-level resources, from within the browser – web applications should have access to the GPU, multi-core CPUs (and threading), and real-time communication. More offline usability, with local storage. The whole idea is to give web apps the full functionality and richness of desktop applications. In 2010 all these APIs should be fully integrated into Chrome, Google is also working with other browser vendors.
13:12 EST — There have been powerful trends happening in the industry along with Chrome’s evolution. Netbooks have been growing hugely, despite economic hardships worldwide. There is also more pervasive usage of cloud computing researchers. There is also a lot of innovation on the device front – phones are getting smarter, tablets are showing up on the market, there is convergence between traditional form factors and small portable form factors. Phones are becoming more like regular computers (horsepower wise) and netbooks are becoming more like phones. All these trends are changing our model of personal computing. This is what Chrome OS is.
13:17 EST — With Chrome OS, Google is focused on speed, simplicity and security. Needs to be blazingly fast, like an appliance – ready to use from turn-on. End-to-end experience, including boot time, will be very fast. In Chrome OS, every application is a web application – no installation, no updates, just a URL. This reduces the lack-of-familiarity encountered by new users. All data will be in the cloud (DR: hmmm, not sure how I feel about this). This will include all personalization, applications, data.
13:18 EST — With everything being a web application, can do different things with security than is done now. Since no binaries are installed on the system, malicious code can be detected much more easily, and problems can be fixed with a reboot.
13:19 EST — Doing a cold boot right now – 7 seconds to login! Holy cow! Google is still working to reduce this time further. Logging in takes about 3 seconds. It looks like Chrome, the desktop looks like a browser. Now going to do a walkthrough of the UI. This is not fully baked yet, will change over the next year, but everything is now open and many of the concepts shown today will carry over to the final product.
13:21 EST — Running apps are separated into tabs across the top of the screen, just like tabbed browsing. Apps are shown in a tab. Panels can pop up from the bottom of the screen; they’re “persistent lightweight windows” that can be rolled up and down. They hold things like chat windows, contacts, buddy lists, music players etc.
13:25 EST — Showing examples, such as flash-based full-screen chess game, e-book reading (such as from Google Books).