First Look At Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Beta

First Look At Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala Beta

The beta release of Karmic Koala, the next version of Ubuntu Linux, just arrived on the net. Wondering what’s new inside the open-source operating system? We took a tour and brought back these screenshots.

In general, Ubuntu 9.10, or Karmic Koala, doesn’t have a whole ton of new-new features over what we saw in 9.04. That’s in part because Karmic is a “long term support” (LTS) release, one that will see updates and security fixes for a longer period of time (three years on desktop, five years on servers) than the 18 months given to standard releases. It’s also because a lot of the focus has been on more nuts-and-bolts areas, like boot-up management, application security and other bits.

That said, there is some new stuff worth checking out.

Faster, slicker boot-up

As previously noted, Ubuntu 9.10 uses GRUB 2 and its graphical boot loader if you’re using more than one OS, boots faster than 9.04 (purportedly), and doesn’t give you an antsy feeling by splashing a lot of kernel talk on your screen during startup.

Refined installation

Ubuntu’s partition editor better explains what’s happening when you’re choosing a spot for it. The installation dialog offers smarter picks of auto-login, password protection, or even encrypted home folder protection. While actually copying the files, Ubuntu’s installer shows a few of the OS’ features—shades of the very familiar Windows XP installation.

New IM client

For whatever reason, both the default GNOME desktop and Ubuntu decided to switch from Pidgin to Empathy for a default instant messaging client. Unfortunate for those who got to know Pidgin so well, but Empathy seems like a pretty remarkable simulation of the look and layout, if without the many, many preferences and menu options.[imgclear]

The software store

We asked for it, it was already in the works, and now it’s here. The looks are a bit, well, My First Software Store, but it’s definitely a more simple, streamlined installation tool than the Synaptic or “Add/Remove Software” tool. Each app gets a screenshot and text description, along with a link to its official web site. You can queue up multiple apps for installation, and choosing or adding new software sources still allows you to browse while the repositories are being refreshed.

Ubuntu One

We still think it looks like a less feature-rich Dropbox, but having it installed by default and integrated into the file system might make regular Ubuntu users a little more familiar and trusting of the 2 GB of free space given to every Ubuntu user.[imgclear]

Disk Utility

Now, this—this is neat. A full read-out on all the disks in your system, including USB and CD/DVD, with health and temperature gauges and simple tools to change partitions or format, if you so choose. You might still want to do the heavy lifting in the GParted app, but this is a good tool to have handy.[imgclear]

Disk display in Nautilus

Speaking of drives, the way they’re laid out in the file browser is a bit more convenient for those working with multiple partitions or a lot of drives. The size is listed first, then the section you’re accessing. Small, but really helpful tweak.[imgclear]

Unsure if everything’s got the right driver and running fine on your system? A system test tool in the System->Administration menu runs step-by-step through audio, video, and other hardware tests, giving you bug report and help look-up options when something’s not quite up to snuff.

Like what you see? Found something else new in Karmic Koala we didn’t see? Tell us in the comments.


  • I was a Vista Pre SP1 user, I dont need to add anything I’m sure. I downgraded to a (cough cough) special version of XP and cannot wait for Karmic to get though its Beta testing. Currently I dual boot 8.10 but will install 9.10 as my sole OS.

    I am tied of Window’s security holes, the fight with the registry and drivers (yes Ubuntu has its own issues but not as bad). I looked at Win7 and its prettier but I feel that Windows is now at a point where it cannot be recommended even to a friend.

  • I tried 8.10 and whilst it was nice enough, it’s still not ready to be my main desktop, and it’s definitely not ready to be my family’s.

    I would like Canonical to work out a way for major publishers to be able to release their software on Linux. Let’s call the OS “Ubuntu Professional” and let’s assume that the following software is all closed-source.

    If, say, Adobe ported all their OSX apps over then I imagine the OS would become more popular with creative professionals and web developers.

    TCO for organisations currently licensing Windows would drop and they wouldn’t have to relinquish the software they know and love.

    Canonical also need to find a way to allow DVD Video (and Blueray I guess) to play out of the box. If this means Ubuntu costs, then so be it. The cost would still be significantly lower than Windows or OSX.

    Whilst Canonical sticks to the open-source path for all it’s flavours of Ubuntu, they are missing out on a major market.

    The OS itself is ready for the desktop, but it lacks the software to run on it.

  • I dont agree with Chris. I am using Ubuntu for the last 2 years and have converted almost 20 households to Ubuntu, we can install all the required codecs just by running an upgrade after selecting the specific repos from the software source. I am just happy with Ubuntu. By the way Chris can check out Linux mint, a variant of Ubuntu with all the proprietary codecs built in and owrks out of the box and it is very solid too.

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