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Ubuntu 13.04 review

Verdict

A modest update, bringing no major enhancements but adding polish to the Ubuntu desktop

Review Date: 25 Apr 2013

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
5 stars out of 6

Ubuntu’s tight, six-monthly release schedule tends to bring only small updates between versions – and so it is with Ubuntu 13.04, known familiarly as the Raring Ringtail. Beyond the expected upgrades to the latest versions of bundled apps and resources, there’s no really major advance over last October’s 12.10 release.

Installing Ubuntu on a Chromebook

Want to try running Ubuntu on your Chromebook? Click here for our tutorial and walkthrough.

You do, however, get a good set of interface upgrades. Launcher icons have been updated, with the Workspaces icon now giving a helpful, at-a-glance indication of which virtual desktop you’re using. Under-the-bonnet upgrades to Unity make searching via the dash more responsive, and a new degree of “typo-tolerance” means missed or switched letters won’t necessarily mess up your search.

The dash is now faster, and returns results even if you accidentally mistype your search terms

Window handling has been spruced up, too. You can now roll the mouse wheel over a Launcher icon to scroll quickly between an application’s open windows. Drag a window to the edge of the screen and a translucent animation now shows where it will snap to. Such minor tweaks make the desktop feel slicker and more user-friendly.

Canonical has slashed the support window for non-LTS releases from 18 months to only nine

At the top of the screen, Ubuntu’s menu system hasn’t evolved, but a new Ubuntu One dropdown at the right now gives you direct Dropbox-style access to your sync folder and settings. An updated Bluetooth menu lets you make your device discoverable without having to dive into the Settings dialog. And if you select Shut Down from the main system menu, a graphical overlay prompts you to restart or power off.

The one thing missing from Ubuntu 13.04 is the Wubi installer, which previously helped you set up Ubuntu from within Windows. Thanks to a few ongoing bugs, and compatibility problems with Windows 8, Wubi isn't included in this release, and it remains to be seen whether it will be back in 13.10. For the time being, the easiest way to install is to boot from the installation media into a live Ubuntu environment and set things up from there.

If you’ve standardised on a Long-Term Support (LTS) edition of Ubuntu, Raring Ringtail isn’t worth abandoning your stable platform for, especially since Canonical has slashed the support window for non-LTS releases from 18 months to only nine.

For everyone else, Ubuntu 13.04 feels slicker and more mature than its forebear, and as usual it’s offered as a free upgrade to existing Ubuntu users via the Software Updater – so we see no reason for users of Ubuntu 12.10 not to upgrade as a matter of course.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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User comments

Wubi

Strange, I've just downloaded the i386 (32 bit) version, transferred to a USB stick and wubi.exe is listed there! Got no M$ on this netbook so I don't need it :>)

By g0wal on 25 Apr 2013

Feeling disappointed

I have a desktop PC with an AMD A8 "APU", 8GB of RAM, dual-monitors and an nVidia 660TI.

First the good - things feel a little snappier and more responsive. The polish is definitely noticeable.

Now the bad - the snappiness is not consistent. Sometimes, a simple thing like dragging a window around will become choppy. It is extremely annoying, to say the least. This is especially bad when you drag a window around new the top of the screen.

Also, if I have a movie playing on one monitor and QuakeLive open on another, everything becomes very choppy (the frame-rate in QuakeLive plummets).

With Windows 7 running on the same machine (I have a dual-boot set up), everything is fast and snappy (even when QuakeLive is open on one screen, and a HD movie is playing on the other).

I have also found that the Intel HD 4000 on-chip GPUs perform extremely well with Ubuntu. I usually have wobbly windows enabled, can play a video on the laptop monitor while playing QuakeLive on a secondary monitor without any problems.

I may have to bite the bullet and fork out $$$ for a new desktop rig (an Intel rig with a HD 4000 GPU).

By FreedomFighter on 25 Apr 2013

@FreedomFighter

It sounds like it is the Nvidia driver. Have you installed the proprietary driver?

By monotok on 27 Apr 2013

power

gnome on ubuntu is power hungry (+10w vs kde) and video is jerky (on my iMac using open-source ati driver). kde looks smoother. Even better in Arch.

By pictonic on 29 Apr 2013

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