The State of Ubuntu 7.04 Is Strong

With companies and individuals everywhere failing to find the wow in Windows Vista, Apple’s OS X riding iPod sales and snarky commercials to steady growth, and long-time Microsoft partner Dell announcing plans to market a Linux desktop to the mainstream, it seems certain that the days of Microsoft’s desktop monopoly are numbered.

Granted, that number is probably a large one, but as evidenced by eWEEK Labs’ tests of Ubuntu Linux 7.04, the state of the Linux desktop—not to mention that of other Windows alternatives—is too strong to hold off heterogeneity forever.

Ubuntu Linux 7.04, which Dell has chosen to headline its desktop Linux foray, has made impressive strides toward claiming a spot on mainstream desktop and server machines, both by piling up advances made across the Linux and open source community, and by building in advances of its own.

For instance, we’re glad to see that in Ubuntu 7.04—also known as Feisty Fawn—the NetworkManager application, which we like for the way it handles switching among wired and wireless networks and managing VPN connections, has gone from being an optional add-on to a part of the default install.

As implemented in Feisty, however, NetworkManager boasts much improved handling of static connections, which earlier incarnations of NetworkManager didn’t adequately address.

Ubuntu’s best features remain its excellent software management tools, its well-organized community and its large catalog of ready-to-install free software applications. We’re also impressed with the steps that Ubuntu has taken to work with proprietary software, which, while more tricky to distribute, is in many cases what’s needed to fit the bill.

We installed the freely available (but not open-source) VMware Server on one of our test machines by browsing for and selecting it in Ubuntu’s Add/Remove Applications tool. We did have to visit VMware’s Web site to register and generate a serial number for the product, but we did not have to compile drivers for our kernel—as we’re accustomed to doing on other Linux platforms. Instead, Feisty’s software management system pulled down the appropriate drivers for us, making it fast and easy for us to enable virtualization on our test machine.

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