Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Video Overview of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS

Edit: Added videos for Office and Sound.

This was originally intended to be a single
video, but neither YouTube nor Google Videos would host something that large, so I chopped it up into sections.

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Video transcript:

This video ”produced” by Daeng Bo for ibeentoubuntu.com. The voice-over is done by me, Chiraporn Srisutthakarn. I am not a native English speaker, so please excuse my slight accent. This video is licensed under the Creative Commons license, which means that you can reuse and re-edit it.

Desktop



Let's start by talking about the desktop. If you have used Ubuntu before, the desktop will be very familiar. It has not changed much in the last few years. It does, however, have a few great new features in Ubuntu Hardy, so keep your ears and eyes open. Even if you haven't used Ubuntu before, you will notice some similarities to other operating systems. There are icons. There are panels. There are menus. There are also a few features which are not present on Microsoft Windows or Mac OS Ten. There are two panels on the desktop. This is configurable, and you can have one or several if you want to change the look of your desktop. I'll be describing the default setup in Ubuntu. The bottom panel has four elements: the "show desktop" icon, the taskbar, which shows all your windows on the present workspace, the workspace switcher, allowing you to organize your applications into work areas so that windows don't get cluttered, and the trash icon. To you, it may look similar to Microsoft Windows. These elements, along with just about everything else in Ubuntu, can be modified by clicking the right mouse button. The top panel contains the menus, quick-launchers, panel applets, the notification area, and the clock. The menus are divided into three categories. The applications menu gives you access to all the programs installed on your computer and has the ability to add more if you wish. These applications are divided into sensible categories and the applications are named for what they do. When you want to listen to music, you choose Sound and Video and open the Rhythmbox music player. When you want to do word processing, you go to Office and select the Open Office Word Processor. Finding and using your applications has never been easier. The places menu gives you quick access to the places you visit most often. Your user files, documents, videos, and other bookmarked areas are available at the top of the menu. If you need to delve into your computer's system files, access the CD or DVD drive, connect to a computer on the network, search for files, or find a recent file, those are all here, too. The system menu lets you change how your computer acts. The Preferences menu adjusts facets which only affect you as a single user, while Administration makes changes computer-wide for all users. You can also get information about your operating system or shut down the computer from here. Quick-launch icons give you super-fast access to your most-used programs. You can remove one by right-clicking on it. You can add another manually or by finding the menu item and either dragging it or right-clicking and choosing to Add this launcher to the panel. There are many small but handy applications which can run inside your panel. These are called applets. The fast user switching applet and the deskbar applet are included by default, but you can add more by right-clicking on the panel where you want them to appear. The notification area is similar to the system tray in Microsoft windows. Programs which send notifications will cause an icon to appear here. Typical notification icons include updates, error messages, the network manager, music players, chat clients, and the bittorrent client. In addition to the volume control and the quit button, you also have a clock and calendar. Clicking on this will give you a calendar for the current month and a list of your appointments. If you set a home locality, you will also see updated weather. Ubuntu also comes with fancy 3D effects for supported graphics cards. If you have a relatively modern desktop with NVidia, ATI Radeon, or Intel graphics, 3D effects should work with no configuration necessary. Pressing the Window or Command key along with E will show you all your workspaces. You can move windows around and change workspaces this way.Pressing Alt and Tab will rotate through your windows while showing a shot of each. No more guessing which of five similarly-named windows you want. If you enable extra effects in your preferences, you will even have the option of pressing Windows-Shift-S to get a fancier switching method. Extra effects also bring those wobbly windows you've probably seen on YouTube.

Overview of Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Applications

Daeng has opened many of the great applications that Ubuntu comes with by default. He has divided them into six different categories. The categories are: Internet Applications Games Office Applications Sound and Video Graphics Accessories

Internet


Let's begin with the internet applications. There are: Firefox 3. Firefox is a well-known browser, and version three has many new features and enhancements, including being as fast as hell. Pidgin is a text chat client Ekiga is a software phone. You can also install Skype if you need to talk to friends on their network. Transmission is a fast and light bittorrent manager. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS has Firefox 3.0. In a recent round-up of the upcoming new browsers, CNet found Firefox 3.0 to be the overall winner, citing its security, stability, and extensibility. ZDNet benchmarked Firefox against other browsers and found it to be the fastest. Safari and Firefox basically tied. ARS Technica reported on tests of memory usage when opening thirty tabs. Firefox 3 beat all comers, even Opera, often considered to be the light-weight browser of choice. Because Firefox's extensions are part of what makes it so great, Ubuntu makes it easy to install extensions system-wide for every user. While not all extensions are available this way, the most common are. Firefox has a brand-new bookmarking system which keeps track of the most recent, most visited, and newly tagged. Tags mean that you never need to think about which of several categories you want to file a bookmark in. Pidgin 2.4 is a chat client which can talk to the networks for AIM, GTalk, Jabber, MSN, Yahoo, Myspace, and many more. Because it concentrates on compatibility with many networks, not all the advanced features of every network are available. Pidgin doesn't support voice or video chat, for example. If you need this functionality, there are other clients which support it. Pidgin currently holds the top position on Lifehacker's list of top five IM clients. Ekiga is a software phone, much like Skype. It uses the open SIP protocol, making it able to talk to many other software phones. You can also purchase minutes to call out to cell phones and land lines around the world at very affordable rates, most often below those of Skype. Unfortunately, Skype's protocol is secret, and Ekiga is unable to cross the bridge to talk to Skype users. Skype DOES make a client for Ubuntu, though, so you can contact your Skype friends that way. This release of Ubuntu has a new bittorrent client called Transmission. Transmission is a light but full-featured client which supports multiple torrents, global and individual bandwidth usage, and creating torrents.

Games


Ubuntu comes with many time-wasting games installed by default. While no one would call Ubuntu a gaming system, there are literally hundreds more to install from the repositories. Arcade, side-scrollers, strategy, simulation, and first-person shooters are all represented. There are no usable MMORPGs in the Ubuntu repositories, but several major games have Linux clients, and even more can run under the Windows compatibility layer. Let's watch Daeng lose at several easy games. (Ooh, the computer got him diagonally) Wow. He's really bad, isn't he?

Office Applications




Unlike other operating systems, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS comes with a full suite of office applications. You don't get a cut down version like Microsoft Works. You don't need to buy a new Mac to get it included, either. Evolution is a personal information manager which handles your e-mail, calendaring, address book, tasks, and memos. It can connect to POP mail systems like your company's e-mail or Hotmail, and it can use IMAP to read the mail while leaving it on the server. You can even read your GMail from Evolution. The calendar handles many formats, both local and on the network. New in Ubuntu is a connector for your Google Calendar. The address book integrates well with the file browser and the IM clients, allowing you to add chat buddies or send e-mail from the file browser. As mentioned before, tasks and appointments in Evolution show up on your desktop in the calendar. Double clicking on a date in the desktop calendar even brings up that date on teh Evolution calendar. How easy is that? Openoffice.org is probably the second-most famous piece of Free software next to Firefox. It may need no introduction, but you'll get one, anyway. The word processor is the brand-new 2.4 version of Openoffice.org, bringing better Microsoft Word compatibility, PDF editing, improved localization, including easier switching of spell-check languages, and more integration into the Ubuntu desktop. The spreadsheet has performance enhancements and something for those addicted to pivot tables. The presentation software has fancy new 3D slide transition effects. The database program gains compatibility with Access 2007 files. There is also a vector graphics program, but we'll be talking about that with the other graphics programs.

Sound and Video


Ubuntu comes with all the programs you'll need to play music and video on your computer. While Ubuntu doesn't play many types of files right out of the box, almost every kind of file is playable after you install the right codecs. Sadly, due to digital rights management (DRM) and the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, a few formats can't be played legally without purchasing the codecs. Vendors like Fluendo offer these codecs in easy-to-install packs for less than you would think. If you are in a country which has more progressive laws, you can install these codecs from within Ubuntu using the codec installer. Totem movie player is a simple movie player which supports playlists. It has many plugins for visualization and connectivity. It can search your user area for videos, search YouTube, or even connect to your MythTV server to play new recordings, meaning you don't need to have a dedicated front-end to MythTV anymore. Let's search for a video and see what we get. pressing "f" takes us into full-screen mode. Pressing it again takes us back out. Now let's take a look at what YouTube has to say about Ubuntu Hardy. Since it's small, we can zoom using the 0, 1, or 2 buttons. That was great. What about music? Ubuntu's default music player, Rhythmbox, takes a music management approach to playing music. It searches your music library and organizes the tracks by artist and album. You can add other factors like genre and year, if you want. There's no need to go to the file manager and look through your collection. In fact, if you do that and double click on a file, Ubuntu assumes that you want to play a single file and opens the file in the Movie player. You can change this behavior if you want to, of course. Practically everything in Ubuntu is configurable. The music player handles your portable music player, whether it be an iPod, an MTP player (you know ... those that need to use Windows Media Player to transfer files), or a simple USB Mass Storage device. You can add files to, delete files from, and play files directly from your portable. It can even transcode on the fly for you. If you have a DAAP server like iTunes or Firefly, Rhythmbox will identify it automatically and the songs will appear in the left panel. Rhythmbox shares files using DAAP, too, so you can share files with your Rhythmbox and iTunes-using family or roommates. Put in a CD and you will see that Rhythmbox can play it, looking up the track information automatically on the internet. Right-click on the CD to rip it to your collection. Ubuntu also has a dedicated CD burner for those who want more control over their rips. Although you can't use the iTunes store since it only works with iTunes, there are a couple of stores for independent artists that you can use from within Rhythmbox. You can also purchase your tracks DRM free from Amazon. Hey, Ubuntu developers, we're waiting for that Amazon store plugin! New to Ubuntu this time around is Brasero, a CD burning application. While virtually everything the average user needs to do with regard to burning can be done from the file browser, many people feel more comfortable with a Nero-style CD burner, and the Ubuntu developers were happy to fill that desire.

Graphics

Unfortunately, a bug in the Hardy beta version of F-Spot is keeping me from finishing this portion of the video.

Of course Ubuntu comes with graphics programs. Just about everything a home user needs is installed by default. F-spot is a photo manager. Like Rhythmbox, it hides the file organization from you and uses tags to help you keep track of photos. Want only the photos from that trip to Indonesia with John in them? That's easy to do with tags. It also has touch-up capabilities, meaning that you don't need to use a photo editor for minor edits (although you can open one right from F-spot's interface). F-spot even has a version-control system, allowing you to save the original while touching up the photo. Ubuntu comes with the Gimp, a bitmap graphics editor. It's different from Photoshop, so it may take some getting used to, but web developers who use it claim that it can do just about everything that Photoshop can do. Openoffice.org's Draw program is a full-featured vector drawing program which is easier to use than ever!

Accessories

Ubuntu has many little programs which make your life simpler. They include: A dictionary to look up words from the internet. It has multi-language capability and can recommend words which might be close to what you really wanted but couldn't remember. Watch Daeng misspell some easy words. The calculator looks simple, but it can be used for more advanced problems, scientifics equations, or your accounting needs, too. Tomboy notes is an easy way to organize your notes and your life. It uses a wiki-style format to link between notes, making remembering your murky past that much easier. Daeng uses it for all his research. The Disk Usage Analyzer will show you where all that disk space goes. Daeng's got way too much porn, I see. The Tracker indexed search will find files using a full-text search. You no longer need to worry if you lost a file and can't find it. Finally, the Deskbar applet pulls these all together. You now have one place to type your desires and then you can choose to search your files, your bookmarks, your history, your notes, the web, or for a definition. You can do much more than that, too. The Deskbar will become the first place you look for anything.

Conculsion

Thank you for watching!!! Many more applications are available from the repositories. You can install thousands of programs with little trouble, all free of charge and legal, too. Enjoy Ubuntu Linux 8.04 LTS!!! By the way, these thirty or so windows can be opened simultaneously on a three-year old old AMD Sempron laptop with 1GB of memory without any significant slowdown or instability.

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