Interestingly, Canonical seems to have opted to use MP3 over the open - and very popular among Linux users - Ogg Vorbis file format for its music store. The decision to use MP3 no doubt has something to do with the fact that Ubuntu's music store will be built through 7Digital, which also offers its MP3s for sale through the Spotify music service. 7digital offers Spotify users the option to download FLAC files in some cases, but so far no word if FLAC support will be extended to the Ubuntu One music Store.
Also a bit disappointing is the three-download limit - accidentally delete your files three times and you're out of luck. The good news is that you can of course sync your music through Ubuntu One - or Dropbox if you like - so even if you lose the files on your local machine your backups can replace it without the need for an extra download.
For now the music store is only available for Rhythmbox, though Canonical says that it will eventually be available also as a plug-in for Banshee, Amarok and "a few other" Linux music applications.
While music and themes are the big news in the Lucid Lynx beta, there's also a host of smaller improvements: a revamped session tool, some redesigned GNOME widgets, and the usual complement of GNOME software updates.
Good things in small changes
Firefox, OpenOffice, and Evolution have all been updated to latest version - Mozilla's Thunderbird 3 is also now in the repositories for those that prefer it to Evolution. The most obvious change may well be in Firefox where Canonical has given Google the boot and opted to use Yahoo! as the default search provider. Naturally a trip to the search bar can change that to whichever provider you'd like.
Lucid Lynx looks like the best Ubuntu release yet and the beta is well worth a test drive. If there is a problem here, it's that this is beta code - I experienced some application crashes and the system once failed to boot. If the beta testing phase goes as planned, though, then the bugs should be ironed out and the final release will be available at the end of April 2010. ®
"Ubuntu founder March Shuttleworth has set Linux the target of beating Apple on the desktop in terms of features and polish. Has he delivered with his Lucid Lynx?"
This sounds like a good release of Ubuntu with some worthwhile improvements, but this kind of blinkered focus on Ubuntu and even more tightly on Shuttleworth is kind of depressing.
Let's take a look at the next paragraph:
"all my hardware was supported, including my NVidia graphics card"
obviously this is important to you. Funny, then, that Canonical / Ubuntu / Shuttleworth do almost zero work on hardware support. Your NVIDIA graphics card works thanks to the nouveau developers - led by Red Hat's Ben Skeggs - if you're using that open driver, or thanks to NVIDIA themselves if you use the proprietary driver. All your other hardware? Nope, not thanks to Ubuntu either. Thank Red Hat, Novell, Intel...just about anyone but Ubuntu. (note, I work for Red Hat, this is a personal post, not representative of my employer, blahblah.)
"even my iPhone showed up in Nautilus thanks to the latest version of libgpod"
...which is mostly written by Mandriva's Christophe Fergeau.
Windows has been so sucsessful over the years because it works out the box and has been easy to use
No, it doesn't and no it isn't.
Windows is set up to work "out of the box" by the hardware manufacturers. If you install XP from an XP install disc, as opposed to a "system restore disc" you'll almost certainly find half your hardware doesn't work, you can't move windows without horrible graphics glitches and IE, Outlook and Notepad are poor offerings for those "everyday tasks".
And, as for "easy to use" - puleeze. It doesn't clear up after itself, it needs frequent defrags, cache emptyings, anti-virus scans, spyware scans and trojan scans. God help you if the hive becomes corrupted (game crashes can do this), or the registry gets messed up.
WIndows is the most badly designed piece of crap ever foisted on the paying public in the history of technology.
Please stop copying lame windows ideas
All the obligatory integrated music store crap in Windows is one of the big reasons I use Ubuntu. Imagine my disappointment to read that some stupid teenage-minded marketing droid thinks its a good idea to drag all this moronic bloatware over to my favourite distro. I mean what the F has all this crapware got to do with an operating system?
I really hope they packed this crap up sensibly so for us grown-ups that want a professional system, it is easily uninstallable without ripping chunks of necessary functionality out too. Perhaps its time to find another distro if Ubuntu is going down the same path as Microsoft, Apple et al that everyone necessarily must be an ipod-addicted facebook junkie.