OS Reviews: Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve last tried Ubuntu. To be frank, my previous experience with it wasn’t too nice; running Ubuntu 13.04 in Virtualbox gave me enormous lag issues, and I wasn’t pleased! Then again, that was a fairly old PC with not so many resources to allocate…

This will hopefully be a different story. Today, I’m going to test Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr), which is the newest release available at the time of writing. Coincidentally, it’s also the newest LTS release, meaning support won’t end until 2019.

For this test, I’ll be giving Ubuntu 20GB of disk space, 3GB RAM, and 2 processor cores out of 4. 3D acceleration is turned on.

The first screen as I boot up. This looks pretty familiar to me: the language bar at the left, the two options (try or install). Hitting Release Notes simply opens up a Firefox window to the Ubuntu website.
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The Try Ubuntu live desktop loads flawlessly, and Ubiquity (Ubuntu’s installer) is easily accessible from the Unity launcher and the desktop (when you close the shortcuts page).
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On the desktop is an Examples folder, which includes to media files: one, what seems to be a promotional video for fast boot up times, and the other I’m guessing the music track used in the video. Both play absolutely fine.
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Time to install! The installer just barely fits on the desktop with the Unity launcher open!
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Ubuntu wants 6.4GB of disk space and a network connection to install. I’m going to check the two options this time and continue.
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Also provided are disk encryption and LVM support. In this I’ll let Ubuntu partition my virtual machine disk for me, as I don’t need any specific disk configuration.
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No confirmation for the new disk setup; the installer skips to the next screen. The Back button is disabled. The next screen (setting keyboard layout) I’ll skip.
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User account setup.
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Ubuntu installs. The skip button appears humorously even on actions you can’t skip (such as Installing system). However, it didn’t really seem to work when I wanted to skip downloading language packs. >:|
Also, finally, a features slideshow that I can actually manually scroll through! That’s amazing, Canonical!
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Clicking Skip also seems to also activate an (in this case, very small) details window.
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Installation finishes.
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On first boot up, however, I get stuck with a resolution of 640×480, which I cannot seem to change via the display settings window. Nor can I even see the entire thing with the screen. Off to installing guest additions I guess.
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…Okay that’s more like it! At first glance, Ubuntu’s Unity doesn’t seem to have changed very much. It’s pretty smooth and sharp with my setup so far.
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Unfortunately for all the privacy advocates out there, the Dash still sends search queries out there by default. Would this be something I’d approve of in my day-to-day life? Not really.
However, for testing purposes…the Dash does offer a large variety of search sources, that all appear to be toggle-able. Everything from the Weather Channel and Facebook to things like Github, Soundcloud, and Yahoo Finance. Probably not the selection you’d expect, but hey, everything’s set up and works! Results can also be filtered by greater categories at the top.
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Fortunately, this is extremely easy to disable. This option pictured essentially turns off all Web search functionality, though you can still select sources and categories in the Dash—they just won’t do anything.
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Nautilus (which is simply referred to inside Ubuntu as “Files”) is the default file manager. Notice how the menus are packed into the title bar, a design decision very reminiscent of OS X.
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This can be changed, too, thanks to a new feature in this release actually! You are able to have window-level menus (aside for maximized windows), that appear when you hover over a window’s title. It’s all about saving display space, I’m guessing!
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The Ubuntu Software Centre. The first thing that catches my eye (other than the big banner that says Our Star Apps!) is the existence of paid apps in the What’s New section! This isn’t something I see very often on the Linux platform, with the sheer notoriety of free software.
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When I do click Buy on one of these items, I get a somewhat unrelated and confusing Terms of Use. Save that for the gags!
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And then I realize that the only way I can pay for things is through Ubuntu One. Which is apparently shutting down… Hmmmmmm… that doesn’t add up!
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I check out the Star Apps selection (which takes around 10 seconds to load). Fortunately, most of the apps we are familiar with, like Audacity and GIMP, are in fact free of charge.
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The Software Centre is a little slow to navigate in my opinion, but installing things work fine. Here’s Geany, a GTK+ text editor/IDE!
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LibreOffice and Firefox look absolutely the same as they do on other systems.
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First round of system updates. I seem to be plagued with graphics drawing issues everywhere. ;_;
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AND FINALLY, clicking the Amazon button on the Unity Launcher gives me this. I think my installation might be corrupted or something! >_>
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And…I guess that’s all the most notable applications in Ubuntu; in other words, pretty much all the stuff that’s pinned on the Unity Launcher by default.

Aside from that, I’m going to look over all the applications, because, well, not everything in Ubuntu is developed by Ubuntu. In other words, different components originate from different sources, so I can’t really blame the OS itself for imperfections there. (which I guess I can say for the majority of Linux distros.)

So, what can I say about Ubuntu 14.04? It’s not a major upgrade from previous versions, but it’s definitely stable enough to be a fine LTS release. The UI is refined in fairly minor places, but the big changes—Unity 8 and Mir—aren’t quite here yet.

Although Unity isn’t my personal favourite when it comes to desktop environments, Ubuntu does continue to deliver a smooth, sharp, desktop interface. The privacy problems that started with version 12.10 didn’t get fixed yet, but it’ll hopefully become a thing of the past when 14.10 finally rolls around. 9/10

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