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Canonical Ubuntu 11.04 review

David Ludlow
28 Apr 2011
Our Rating 

Faster and easier to use than its predecessors, this is the best version of Ubuntu yet



We're pleased to see that the Workspace Switcher from Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition has made it into Ubuntu 11.04. Clicking this in the Launcher brings up all four available Workspaces, and lets you drag and drop applications between them. It's a neat way of keeping your PC organised, particularly if you're only working on a single monitor.

Ubuntu 11.04 workspaces

Ubuntu 11.04 also has better windows management, taking its lead from Windows 7. You can now drag a window to the left- or right-hand-side of the screen to have it take up half of the vertical space on a display. Dragging a window to the top of the screen makes it maximise. We really like this system on Windows 7, and here it's just as good making it really easy to neatly organise your workspace.

Under the bonnet, Canonical has worked hard to improve the performance of the OS. We ran our new Expert Reviews benchmarks on the same Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700 PC running both Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop Edition and Ubuntu 11.04. We saw similar results in the Image- and Video-editing tests, but were stunned by the improvement in multi-tasking. Running Ubuntu 10.10 we got a score of 53, but Ubuntu 11.04 scored 65. This meant that the overall score of 72 for Ubuntu was seven points higher than for Ubuntu 10.10. By comparison, Windows 7 running on the same PC scored just 58, making Ubuntu a lot faster overall.

Ubuntu 11.04 graphs

Other than this, it's business as normal for Ubuntu. We like the way that broadcast accounts, email notifications and instant messaging pop-ups are all housed in the main title bar. It makes it easy to keep an eye on what's going on without having to have big applications open all of the time.

Other applications can integrate into this space, too. So, the Banshee media player also appears up here, letting you control playback and change playlists automatically. Banshee replaces Rhythmbox as the default media player, but it's very similar in operation so you won't have any problems getting used to it. Libre Office replaced Open Office, but as both are derived from the same source code there's little to tell the two apart. It's safe to say that if you're happy with Open Office you'll be happy with Libre Office.

Ubuntu 11.04 is a fairly big change for the OS, ditching separate Netbook and Desktop Editions to create a single OS that works on both. For the most part it's very successful and the new built-in search tools make it easier to find applications and documents. We'd have preferred the ability to customise the Launcher more, but that's a minor complaint. Given the massive increase in performance over Ubuntu 10.10, 11.04 is a worthy upgrade that's well worth installing.



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