Dell's Ubuntu 9.04 Offers More Changes
Ubuntu 9.04 was released back in April while the next release, Ubuntu 9.10, will be out in less than three weeks. However, only recently has Dell been getting around to rolling out their Linux desktops, netbooks, and notebooks with an Ubuntu 9.04 installation option rather than Ubuntu 8.10. Besides switching out the base operating system to Ubuntu 9.04, Dell's Linux engineers also took this time to make a few other changes to their "Dellbuntu" stack.
In a blog post on Direct2Dell, Dell's John Hull has commented on some of the technical changes to be found with those Dell systems shipping with Ubuntu 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" -- including those that are available with Ubuntu Moblin Remix.
These changes by Dell for Ubuntu 9.04 include shipping the CyberLink DVD Player for legal DVD playback as opposed to their previous use of the also-proprietary LinDVD software. Dell continues to Fluendo GStreamer codecs for MP3, WMA, and WMV playback as well to continue to provide a pleasant "out of the box" multimedia experience.
Dell has also been working on its own GUI-based utility for creating recovery media to restore the Ubuntu operating system in the event of a re-installation is needed. Unfortunately, not much information on this new Dell Linux tool is available at this time. Dell is also providing a new way to recover Ubuntu from your hard drive, but again, details are currently lacking as the links lead to empty pages on the Dell Wiki.
Another change for Dell with Ubuntu 9.04 include the use of GRUB2 by default. GRUB2 was made the default in Ubuntu 9.10, but Dell has decided to preemptively make the switch to this newer and better boot-loader, after feeling it is ready for general use. Dell has also ensured that their Intel wireless cards are supported natively within Ubuntu 9.04 and later as well as other newer Linux distributions.
Lastly, Dell continues to only offer Ubuntu in only a 32-bit version even though they do offer ship it with some 64-bit hardware systems. Hull's reasoning for this remains the Adobe Flash support on x86_64 or there the lack of. Gnash can run on 64-bit Linux systems, but that isn't a viable solution yet, and Dell is not satisfied with the current 64-bit Flash Beta from Adobe.
These changes are good to see and that Dell continues to invest in their Ubuntu offerings, albeit this is coming six months after Ubuntu 9.04 was released. Whether Dell will begin offering Ubuntu 9.10 systems on the heals of the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS is yet unknown. Ideally it would have been nice for Dell to turn their focus to offering Ubuntu 9.10 systems around its release time instead of continuing on Ubuntu 9.04 work. Ubuntu 9.04 is a nice upgrade over Ubuntu 8.10 -- as are these Dell changes -- but Ubuntu 9.10 is shaping up to be an excellent release and perhaps the best yet from Canonical.
Ubuntu 9.10 has some nice new artwork, provides many important graphics fixes after the Ubuntu Jaunty was horrible with Intel graphics, has the Ubuntu Software Store (now known as the Ubuntu Software Center), offers faster boot-times, uses the EXT4 file-system, addresses many minor usability bugs, and packs a boat of other changes too.
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