Mountain Goat Reaches the Summit: Ubuntu 8.10 Arrives

Oct 31, 2008

Intrepid Ibex, the codename for Ubuntu 8.10, has today finally reached the pinnacle, without hesitation. Although the new version of the popular Linux distribution hasn't won any new altitude records, it still brings along a number of interesting features to make life easier for users and
administrators. High among these features are some rejuvenated programs.

Gnome Updates and Graphics Tuning

To begin with, a new Gnome 2.24.1 was released, whose features we covered in describing 2.24 elsewhere. Gnome 2.24.1 contains the Nautilus file manager and an update of Ekiga to 3.0. Web users will welcome a stable version of a free browser in Firefox 3.0.3. Graphics developers will be happy with Gimp 2.6, which is ripe with features, including support for RAW and HDR. Ubuntu sherpas also brought the media player Totem along so that users can play free BBC content from on high.

OpenOffice 3 on Hold

A bit of a surprise: the Ibex didn't want to accept OpenOffice 3.0, so it's still using the older, more stable version 2.4.1 of the free office suite. Ubuntu's Colin Watson explained that the reason was a slippage in the 3.0 release so that it didn't make the 8.10 feature freeze and couldn't be included in the product due to release mismatches. However, Watson expects OpenOffice 3.0 to be part of the later Ubuntu 9.04.

Ubuntu's Network Manager 0.7 helps to improve network connectivity that supports 3G technologies such as UMTS and roaming. For its printer support through Jockey, Ibex gathers drivers from an outside source (, which has some advantages. For one thing, the Ubuntu CD can't quite accommodate the printer drivers, and for another, new printer models are constantly emerging on the market where drivers can likewise be provided.

ubuntu desktop
The new Ubuntu 8.10 desktop optics hold no great surprises.

Encrypted Directory

New to the product is introduction of an encrypted ~/private directory to securely store sensitve data. When a user registers, Ubuntu inserts the ecryptfs mountpoint and does a chmod 700. Pluggable authentication modules (PAM) use the user password to mount the encrypted files and users symlink
to the traditional locations. The result is that attackers can't access the encrypted directory.

Guest Friendliness

Intrepid has also thought of its guests. Sandboxed guest sessions allow friends to use your laptop with restricted privileges and without worry. Once a guest logs out, Ubuntu wipes out the session data for good. There it is: provide your friends a work area without a concern for them to pirate your work. To guard against viruses, trojans and spam, ClamAv and Spamassassin have found their way into Ubuntu's main repository. Starting Ubuntu from a USB stick is easy through a selection in the system menu. With the help of a GUI you can write Ubuntu on a USB stick and pop it in your pocket.

Kernel Points

A few things have also changed under the covers. Ubuntu now uses the latest stable Linux 2.6.27 kernel that brings more drivers for wireless cards and webcams. Dynamic Kernel Module Support (DKMS) from Dell makes it easier to integrate external modules into new kernels. DKMS makes sense for some webcams, WLAN cards and mobile devices for which users need kernel modules from the vendor when none exist in the kernel.

Virtual Machine Building

Last but not least, integrating the X.Org 7.4 windows manager simplifies Linux's recognition of tablets, keyboards and mice. A fallback exists: if the X server can't find a usable GUI configuration, it starts a simple failsafe X server to take care of rudimentary tasks without having to lay a hand on the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. The integrated VM Builder tools allow the system to transform into a virtual machine, which should especially please administrators who want to test things before an actual deployment.


Other Intrepid changes and enhancements are on their Welcome page to the Desktop Edition. Installations for testing are available through the packet manager or ISO images for each of the Ubuntu derivatives to burn onto CDs or DVDs:

* Ubuntu
* Edubuntu
* Kubuntu

Unfortunately, the download pages for the Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio and Mythbuntu derivatives don't currently exist. A good alternative for downloads is to rely on the BitTorrent method, because servers might soon become

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  • EeePC problem

    Note for some reason I can't explain this post didn't go through, and is out of sequence.

    Ah, it's a problem on the EeePC, that's why I've not encountered it, and why I've not seen it on the Mandriva Forums

    I notice that there appear to be work arounds that nullify the problem, until a solution can be found, not a lot of good for my little old lady types, I'll grant you.
  • I also notice

    that there is a patch for the kernel that apparently fixes the problem. That really demonstrates the power and beauty of Free Open Source Software. The problem was reported, work arounds were developed and finally a patch that fixes the problem was released, all done in the open inside a 20 day period, no cover ups, no blame shifting.
  • Mandriva shutdown

    Also doesn't shutdown on my desktop, which is not an eeepc.
  • Mandriva Linux 2009.0

    quote::Mandriva 2009 neither logs out nor shuts down properly, instead choosing to hang indefinitely. From what I've read on the intertubes, my experience is not unique.

    There is no mention of this problem on the Mandriva Forums, that I'm aware of, so I think you are telling porkies.

    Based on what you've written, you experience appears to be hearsay, that is you read it somewhere, and are reporting that you've read it somewhere. Given that, if indeed this is a reported problem for one or two people, and you've read about it, there are no doubt many other pwople who've read about it, so I expect that your experience, that is that you read about it, is not unique.

    None of my customers have any problems like that, and it certainly works fine one a wide assortment of laptops I've installed it on - Lenovs, Optimas, NECs, Ausus.

    So please point us all to these articles you say you've come across. I'd like to read them too.

  • Mandriva 2009

    Mandriva 2009 neither logs out nor shuts down properly, instead choosing to hang indefinitely. From what I've read on the intertubes, my experience is not unique. No other distro has ever behaved in this manner on my desktop.

    On the flip side, although I'm having (thankfully) limited problems with Intrepid Ibex, it still baffles me how the default Japanese font rendering can be so ugly. (Most websites render with an odd mixture of an anti-aliased Japanese font and an aliased Chinese font.) But as a plus, setting up Japanese input in Ubunutu is simpler than most every other distro I've ever used.

    However, as a confirmed distro-hopper, I'll more than likely be running Fedora 10 in a few weeks. And after that, who knows...
  • interesting features to make life easier for users and administrators

    Mandriva Linux 2009.0, which has already been released, (October). Already has all of these features, that make life easier for Users and Administrators.

    In addition Mandriva Linux 2009.0 has Open 3.0, which makes reading and writing those Office 2007 documents a doddle.

    With Mandriva Linux we aren't waiting while some heavily marketed distribution gets around to adding all those nice ease of use features, they are already there, and most of them have been there since at least the year 2000 when Mandriva Linux was called Mandrake Linux. Many of them have been improved upon, to be sure, but we aren't waiting for them to be included, they are included already.

    Also, Mandriva Linux 2009.0 gives you the choice of KDE4, KDE3.5.10, GNOME, XFCE, and several other low footprint desktops, if you install from either Mandriva Linux 2009.0 Free or Mandriva Linux 2009.0 Powerpack (the commercial version).

    All versions including KDE and GNOME LiveCD versions are available from
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