Nerd alert: First Lucid Lynx Ubuntu beta fun
Shuttleworthian style and substance
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. ®