Last week Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system was officially released with most users expecting good things from the new release. Reviews of Windows 7 during its beta testing phase were almost overwhelmingly positive with very few reviewers finding fault with the streamlined desktop, speed and functionality of Windows 7.
But the release of Windows 7 is just the start of the year-end onslaught of new releases on the operating system front. Over the next month four top-notch versions of Linux will also be released, starting with Ubuntu Linux this week.
The first big post-Windows 7 release, and perhaps the biggest of them all, is Ubuntu 9.10, otherwise known as Karmic Koala. Mark Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu project’s releases are always greeted with significant Internet fanfare and Karmic is likely to make no less noise.
Karmic Koala will ship with a number of improvements, including a few to improve cloud computing. Among these will be Ubuntu One Canonical’s file synchronising and collaborating software. It is very similar to the Dropbox service which allows users to automatically synchronise desktop files with an online service as they work. Ubuntu One’s advantage is that it is tightly integrated into the Ubuntu desktop. It’s downside is that it only works on Ubuntu at present.
Karmic Koala is also expected to ship with better audio controls than previous versions. Audio handling on Linux has been famously bad over the years and as multimedia becomes an increasingly important part of the modern desktop, audio failings become more noticeable.
Karmic Koala will be released on October 29.
Mandriva is another much-anticipated Linux release and Mandriva Linux 2010 is expected to be released on November 3. One of the major features implemented in Mandriva Linux 2010 is the use of the Moblin platform for mobile devices. Built around the Atom processor used in most netbooks.
Moblin is optimised for quick startup, shutdown and taking advantage of the smaller size of netbooks.
Apart from Moblin Mandriva Linux 2010 also includes the latest KDE (4.3.2) and Gnome (2.28) desktop environments, a guest user account much like Ubuntu’s, and a choice of Virtualbox 3, Xen and qemu-kvm for virtualisation.
Nine days after the release of Mandriva Linux 2010, OpenSuse will release version 11.2 of its operating system. The Novell-backed OpenSuse project has a number of unique features that make it popular with users. Among these is the Yast software management tool which has always made OpenSuse easy to administer. With the release of 11.2, OpenSuse’s Yast will introduce for the first time “live upgrades” which make it easier to upgrade from previous versions of the operating system. Debian and Ubuntu already have a “dist-upgrade” feature and with 11.2 OpenSuse will have similar capabilities.
OpenSuse 11.2 will also focus on social media functions with its selection of applications. Among these will be choqok, a new KDE twitter and identi.ca client, gwibber on Gnome with support for Twitter, identi.ca, Facebook and others, kopete with its additional Facebook IM capabilities, as well as desktop plasmoids for KDE 4.3.
The latest versions of KDE and Gnome will also be included in the OpenSuse
11.2 release along with the default ext4 filesystem, a number of Yast partitioner improvements and the ability to encrypt the entire disk.
Fedora, the community project behind Red Hat, will also release a new version in November. Fedora 12 is scheduled to be released on November 17 and with its strong ties to Red Hat and its enterprise market, Fedora 12 will be strong on virtualisation features. At the heart of these will be the kernel-based virtual machine (KVM). Fedora, and Red Hat, have been making significant progress on virtualisation so users can expect noticeable changes.
On the desktop, Fedora 12 will include better multimedia support including better support for webcams, IPv6 and network controls.
Like most operating system makers eyeing the growing netbook market, Fedora will ship a number of features designed to take advantage of these platforms. Among these will be better power management and optimization for Intel’s Atom processor.
For users wanting a new operating system the next month will be better than Christmas with tons of good choices to choose from.