Ubuntu’s Karmic Koala bares fangs at Windows 7

Review Ubuntu 9.10 -- aka Karmic Koala -- is taking the fight to Microsoft and its new Windows 7 operating system.

The Koala -- due for its official release today -- brings faster boot times, a revamped software installer, better disk encryption, online services, and quite a bit more to the popular Linux desktop.

We took the release candidate for a spin and are happy to report that while work remains, Ubuntu 9.10 has plenty of improvements and that it's well worth upgrading your current system.

For long-time Ubuntu fans, the most immediately noticeable change in Karmic Koala will likely be the new Software Center, the graphical utility for package management which replaces the traditional GNOME Add/Remove tool.

As it stands with the 9.10 release Software Center doesn't really do anything Add/Remove didn't, but the interface is considerably cleaner and will likely be easier for Linux newbies to navigate.

More interesting is where Canonical plans to go with Software Center in future releases. The goal is to eventually replace Synaptic, gdebi, some parts of the Computer Janitor, and possibly the Update Manager as well, with the all-in-one Software Center. Ubuntu also plans to offer commercial software through Software Center, though that won't likely happen until version 3.0 -- currently Software Center is a 1.0 release.

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13 Responses

  1. Cage says:

    I can’t be the only one that thinks this software cenntre is a step backwards. Add/Remove was simple enough for newbies, and synaptic & gdebi give us great control over what we install, why ditch them for Software Centre where installing software is slower. A change for change sake I think.
    Personally any Karmic Installs I do will have Add/Remove installed. :-p

  2. Vladimir Boyd says:

    You are not alone, Cage, I am thinking Ubuntu is slowly becoming Window$-like with its all-in-one Software centre (brings memories of Install/Remove in Vi$ta). I love the fact that Add/Remove, Synaptic, Update manager all do different things – not too complicated. It is more than a step back, it is to please Window$ users and asking them to switch. One big reason I switched to Ubuntu – it was different from Micro$oft.
    Besides, I am not sure how good the idea of commercial software really is. The whole point of Ubuntu is free alternative to $-OS. Anyway, most users would still use PirateBay and other relevant sites, to obtain a “bad” copy of commercial software for Ubuntu. It is bad, but this is the reality check for commercial software. Open Source people, Open source!

  3. John says:

    I agree, the software centre is slow and doesnยดt make adding/removing various programs at the same time any easier. I am a newbie and the add/remove is really user-friendly.

  4. x33a says:

    @ Vladimir and other guys,

    firstly open source software doesn’t need to be “free”, as in free lunch. it is free as in freedom, and the developers can ask money for it.

    secondly, i agree that ubuntu is trying to lure windows fan with these latest offerings and in the process, is trying to be more ‘noob’ friendly. but, such steps are required to eat into windows’ share.

    though power users do get ticked off, with some of these steps, it mainly does good for the linux community.

    a suggestion, if you guys aren’t satisfied due to any reason, either do a server install and then add your favourite apps on top of that, or try a different distribution.

    i used ubuntu for 11 months, and currently am using arch linux, but i still support and spread ubuntu.

  5. hessmo says:

    just a suggestion. quit with the ads that pop up over the text. I just had to close 3 in a row to read this one article. It’s very annoying.

  6. Doughbury says:

    The day before I installed Karmic, a friend of mine asked me to help her migrate her data from Windows XP to her new Windows 7 machine. During the 2.5 hours it took to send 56 GB of data across a temporary LAN, I tried to interest her in a flash drive full of FOSS. I explained FOSS to her, the concept, the philosophy–I mean I really tried to sell her. In the end, she let me put up Thunderbird because 7 doesn’t come with Outlook Express; Firefox only after I installed Xmarks on both it and IE 8 so she could have her bookmarks on both browsers; and she let me install Boxee because she admires my IPTV setup, and Boxee is the heart of it.

    I got a little frustrated with her. I felt she really wasn’t getting the favor I was trying to do for her. FOSS is so much better, and eventually it might lead to a complete ditching of Windows. I asked her why she would pay for Microsoft Office 2007 instead of using OpenOffice 3.1? Her answer was, “I already know how to use Office. Why should I switch?”

    I had no response. To her, it was totally worth the money to sit down and start using a program she was already familiar with, as opposed to keeping her money, but wasting time to learn a new system. And all of the advantages to Open Office? They mean nothing to her. She just wants to make simple documents, and her husband needs to look at spread sheets on occasion.

    This is the heart of why I think Canonical is on a losing track with Ubuntu. From where I sit, it appears Canonical really is “baring fangs at Windows 7,” but Ubuntu is just all bark and no bite. I cannot recommend it to friends or family simply because there is no compelling reason for them to switch. Ubuntu might be as good as Windows, but it’s not any better, or at least not good enough to cause OS envy. For all the new bells and whistles in Karmic, it’s still a Linux system built by geeks, for geeks. And fine. I love it. I’m happy with it. Let Canonical make the best damn geek OS out there, but if they want my wife to give up Windows and accept the learning curve that comes with Linux/Ubuntu, then they have to give her something she wants, and something she can’t get with Windows.

    Although my friend had a luke-warm reception to Thunderbird and Firefox, she LOVED Boxee. She is accepting the learning curve and familiarizing herself with its UI because it offers her something she wants, and she can’t get it anywhere else. The big new thing in Karmic is what? The software center? Ubuntu One? Emulating features on existing platforms is nice, but it won’t win new hearts. Until Ubuntu shows up with some truly innovative concepts and some bad-ass applications, it will remain an OS for computer hobbyists and enthusiasts, and Microsoft will continue to rule 90% of the market with its mediocre, but familiar product.

  7. I think the idea here was to make a break from the familiar draconian windows thinking in how to approach your desktop and offer something that better supports the underlying OS and hardware more ergonomically. This is an opportunity to support a product created by many, a democracy, rather than continuing to support a product made by the few, capitalism. In the end, isn’t this really the issue.

  8. Alex says:


    A political analogy maybe puts it a bit far. One could argue that M$’s monopoly is a limitation on personal freedom- you can’t handle designing your own OS so we will tell you how it’s going to be, rather then enabling everyone else to create their own experience. It’s all about perspective. Ubuntu is less about control, more about freedom and liberty, and is improved on by the BEST of the community. Unlike our current administration. Capitalism is more than just money, it’s improving whats works, and not spending all your energy on does not work. The people who make good software contribute, the people that make lousy software dont. Simple. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Newbie says:

    For what it’s worth, I just switched from Windows to Karmic on advice from a college buddy, and I really like it. Here are some plus notes that hooked me (for the above poster who couldn’t think of any sell points). 1) it’s free. Everything about it is free. I don’t have to spend hundreds on Microsoft Office, on top of the expense of the OS and stuff. I admit, I’d been using OpenOffice for some time, but it’s really nothing different from MS Office for the average user and it’s free to boot. 2) It runs a whole lot faster. I have a run-of-the-mill Dell laptop and Ubuntu starts about twice as fast as my old MS XP…and my computer was pretty clean compared to most. 3) It’s a heck of a lot cooler…I mean, the Cube? Come on, that is cool…and very functional to a multi-tasker like me! I like that I can personalize it and combine features I like that are similar to things I’ve seen on other operating systems like XP and Leopard into my own little way of doing it (the Dock/AWN specifically)…and the learning curve isn’t that bad for me. It’s different, but easier when you think about it. And less time consuming. And did I mention free?

    Basically the biggest difference is that this OS seems so much more streamlined, useful, and downright sexy than any Windows system I’ve ever used. Haven’t seen Windows 7 yet, but I am already converted to Ubuntu.

  10. Lucian says:

    I used WINDOWS my hole life, at one point I tried a switch to RedHat 5.0 or such but it was just to hard to learn to use, I love Linux – any type, kind, distro or color – but at that time it was too hard to learn and I had no time. So I gave i a break for about 6 years, until one day I read an article about Ubuntu. I did install it as a secondary OS and as we all know by now we never use secondary OS. But I must tell you after couple of days I got some nasty problems with my XP and it was slow, so I upgraded to Vista and downgraded back to XP. I was so frustrated with all the ANTI-viruses, spyware, warms, trojans, false alarms that one day I could not take it anymore and I backup all the data and switched to Ubuntu.
    My first imperssion was that I will have to start learnin a lot and I was willing to, but to my amaze all the things I needed were there, I could live with Gnome even taht is not as good as WinXP, I could live with everything that Ubuntu had and I was sold for two reasons only: Speed + No Anti-Virus. Everything else I am willing to read about.
    I am on the opinion that if you use a computer for light stuff like browsing, pictures, some programs, video, porn ๐Ÿ˜‰ , and small things like this you will live just fine with Ubuntu.
    The Ubuntu forums offered me a solution for every – I mean every – problem that I had in couple of command line types. Are you kidding me, if I had a problem with XP I was thought to live with it, I never attempted to fix anything on XP besides running programs and viruses, that was all I could do.
    So please switch to Linux just so Microsoft can SELL a product that does not waist my time but saves it, since I am paying good bucks for it.

    Ubuntu is free, Linux is free, so why paying for something that is free somewhere else. It is just a matter of getting used with it, don’t you remember how hard was to get used with Windows 3.1? Get over it and you will be sold to free OS.

    Apple uses Debian Linux on their Iphone. Android – that is Google’s OS for mobile phones – uses another Linux. It is free don’t you get it?

    If one day I will switch back to Windows is because I am tired to be in charge and I would like to be told what to do, and the irony is that I will pay for it. That is what Windows is all about. And some people (a lot of them actually) like it.

    PS: and about how it looks … I must be honest about it, who the hell gives a F#$%, I want it to work.

  11. Jim says:


    I am considering getting rid of Win 7 on my PC and totally switching to Ubuntu. However, I am a technical novice at best. Is this a switch a novice can make, especially without screwing up things like drivers for the disc drive/burner, etc.?



  12. Stephan says:


    Ah, those were the days – Red Hat 4+. I remember you needed a screwdriver to install Linux then.

    There were dire warnings during the install about exploding monitors if the refresh rate was wrong . . . You really did have to read the fine manual.

    Stephan ๐Ÿ™‚

    AKA Lord Lucas
    Prince of Darkness
    (Me + electricity = smoke)

  13. Bornpagan says:

    I was running a dual boot machine xp/ubuntu, I would spend much more time on the ubuntu side of life than xp. xp felt archaic in comparison but I could play my games on it, then came windows 7, which is my gaming rig and work machine due to application support I have CorelDraw, Adobe Photoshop (which kind of works with wine) and Accu-Rip for my 13″ wide direct to film printer. Gaming? Oblivion modded out, Borderlands, Dragons age, Need for Speed and mame which still seems to run smoother on windows for me anyway. Now where does Ubuntu fit in? it great for anything on the web I can search in dangerous waters and not worry about infecting my machine theres evolution which helps me keep in touch with the multiple email accounts Ive made over time also since I’m a complete newb the OS makes me research alot and I’ve always been happier when there was a problem to be solved. I really like the gnome desktop and I hear people say it’s terrible but they never really say why to me the layout of application, places, system is great much more efficient than the xp interface. Doom 3 ran better in linux than it did in xp on the same rig but running applications through wine is clunky at best, so really to dump windows I would need linux to support my work apps and entertainment as well as it does the internet and media. I really hope it does eventually fill those gaps for me.

    As of now thanks for the os to dink around on.

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