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Ubuntu's Karmic Koala opens its eyes

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But who needs to boot?

Of course it's worth asking how often the average user actually boots up Ubuntu. Given its stability, most Linux users tend to just leave the system running indefinitely, making the faster boot time of dubious benefit. However, with SSDs dropping in price and boot times falling as well, perhaps eventually we'll all just turn our PCs off rather than putting them to sleep. Think of it as stepping stone to a greener, less power-hungry Linux.

Still, if faster booting isn't in your list of reasons to upgrade, don't worry, startup time isn't the only improvement in Karmic Koala.

The current beta of Ubuntu 9.10 is also the first to use the Ext4 filesystem, one of the many under-the-hood improvements in Karmic Koala. Savvy users might already have made the leap to ext4 with 9.04, which included support for ext4, though stopped short of making it the default option.

Ubuntu 9.10, aka Karmic Koala

Goodbye Pigdin, hello Empathy

Karmic Koala sees ext4 making its prime-time debut and it brings some speed improvements along with it, especially in areas that involve a lot of disk-writing like moving and copying large files.

There is one downside though: You can't always mount an ext4 file system using ext3, so if you frequently access your Ubuntu system by mounting it in ext3 environments you may experience some problems.

On the application front, not a lot has changed in Ubuntu 9.10. The Pidgin messaging client has finally been replaced with Empathy, something other GNOME distros have also done. But empathy isn't just a new Instant Messaging client, though. It brings with it a whole new, much-improved framework known as Telepathy. More than just a Pidgin replacement, Telepathy offers baked in video-chat and VOIP support, two things that aren't even on the Pidgin roadmap.

However, Pidgin has legions of loyal users who may be less than thrilled about Empathy. While the two look similar, Pidgin has quite a few more bells and whistles. Fortunately for those that want no part of Empathy, a quick trip to the Package Manager is all it takes to get Pidgin back on your desktop.

Ubuntu 9.10 beta 1 isn't recommend for everyday use, but if you'd like to take it for spin or help out by filing bug reports, the release is due to appear here sometime today. ®

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