Is Ubuntu 10.10 Worth the Upgrade?

Itching to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.10? Not so fast! Look before you leap, you may want to stick with Ubuntu 10.04, especially if you're a netbook user.

The KDE and Netbook editions are slightly different beasts. Let’s start with the Netbook Remix. I’ve played with the Netbook Remix a bit, and my advice to users who are using 10.04 LTS is to stand pat. The new interface that Canonical is working on isn’t quite fully baked yet. You might not have any problems, but I’ve found it to be a bit buggy. It needs another release cycle to really be ready to go. This one isn’t on the fence — it’s to be avoided unless you’re really into being on the cutting edge.

I’m not the only one that feels this way, either. System 76, which ships laptops, netbooks, and desktops based on Ubuntu is giving 10.10 a miss on the netbooks. Why? Because it’s slow, confusing and generally not ready for prime time. This brings up the question whether Ubuntu should really force all releases to be synced. Maybe the netbook release should have come later when it was ready.

Kubuntu, on the other hand, is worth the upgrade to get KDE 4.5. KDE 4.4 was a good release, but KDE 4.5 finally brings KDE back (in my opinion, at least) to the state it was at with KDE 3.5. It feels much more polished, its fairly speedy, and the Kubuntu take on KDE 4.5 seems very well done.

Again, moving to KDE 4.5 means only 18 months of support — but in this case the switch is worth it. KDE 4.5 is enough of an upgrade that it merits the update right now. The updates in GNOME 2.32, due to the GNOME Project’s work towards 3.0, aren’t nearly as exciting. Which is not an insult — 2.32 is a solid release, but it’s not such a major leap that I’d spend an afternoon upgrading a stable machine. Well, I would, but that’s because I have to write about such things. You probably have better things to do.

Final Word

None of this should be taken to mean that I don’t like Ubuntu 10.10. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone who’s not running Linux yet, or to users who are running older Ubuntu releases. If you’re still on an older LTS and starting to feel itchy to update, or if you’re running Ubuntu 9.10 or 9.04, don’t wait any longer. The cumulative changes from those releases to 10.10 make Maverick an excellent upgrade option.

Likewise, if you’re installing Linux for someone else, 10.10 is a good option — though you might want to think about sticking with 10.04 if they’re not particularly computer savvy. And OEMs or organizations like ByteWORKS should definitely stick with 10.04.

But this is a modest improvement over 10.04. Hold off until Spring 2011, and Ubuntu 11.04. If tradition serves, the 11.04 release should be chock full of major changes, and a very interesting update.

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