Home > linux > Ubuntu 8.04.1 Review – Desktop Emphasis

Ubuntu 8.04.1 Review – Desktop Emphasis

After my very recent review of Kubuntu KDE 4 (Hardy, Community Remix), I received much comment recommending Ubuntu.

Previous Experience

I had previously used Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy), and while not exactly bad, it was not what I would recommend. I had problems with wireless detection, and graphics configuration with Compiz was a real problem.

I have also seen, and used slightly, Ubuntu 8.04, albeit on a computer belonging to someone else.

Test System

Because of the (supposedly) more advanced nature of Ubuntu (official) over Kubuntu (community), I decided to give it a slightly sterner test, testing it on my newer, and problematic for Linux, laptop instead of my comparatively older desktop (which is still powerful enough).

The new test system (my mainstream machine) is the Acer Ferrari 5000 (AMD 2.0GHz Turion 64 X2, 2GB RAM, ATI Radeon X1600 Mobility). The graphics card, along with the Wireless and the bluetooth would be the ‘sterner’ test.


So I downloaded the image and burnt it, and popped in the CD. One thing to notice is that the Hardy series of Ubuntu’s has Wubi (Windows Ubuntu Installer) built in, so if you want to install Ubuntu within Windows at the cost of slightly reduced performance and the lack of a “Suspend to Disk” feature (known in Windows as ‘hibernate’), this is the way to go.

I, on the other hand, went for the regular old install. I popped into the LiveCD, and straight away noted a slight difference: the Ubuntu loading bar was now displaying in smooth graphics instead of the older, slightly grainy, bar. But I could not note a major change in Live boot speed.

First thing into the boot, I noticed the new artwork, which though exactly identical to 8.04, was revamped slightly from 7.10

The rest of the install was pretty much the ordinary kind: choose locale, time, and disk partition, and off you go.

I experienced no hitches or unexpected occurrences.

First Impressions

Booting into the new system, there was an eyeful of change, which turned out to be nothing more than a simple change of wallpaper. The rest of the aesthetics were almost exactly the same, and from 8.04, there was no difference I could find at all.



This is not exactly a bad thing. The simple, stylish, if a bit dull, interface is soothing, and one on which you sit for long during work. With my ever certain focus on the GUI, this is one of the important things for me.

Deeper in…

Perhaps, or maybe surely, because 8.04 was a “Long Term Support”, there were no big changes from 7.10. And 8.04.1 seems to be not much more than a bug-fixed and updated version. The most noticeable change from 8.04 to 8.04.1 is the updation of Firefox from v3 beta to a v3 release. The kernel seems to be updated too.


From 7.10, there are updates to nearly all the applications one is familiar with. From 8.04, there are only minor ones. The applications, likewise, include the regular offerings for a major desktop distro: OpenOffice.org, Amarok, GIMP, etc.


No matter what one says about Ubuntu, I cannot fault the stability. I used in a up and down manner for quite some time: opening 50 songs simultaneously, dragging right clicks, quitting things in the middle of processes, and so on. These are the regular follies that a desktop may have to face in its lifetime, and Ubuntu fared quite well.

The bugs and the problems

It picked up the Wireless. This was a definite step up from the previous versions. I cannot say if 8.04 solved this problem, but 8.04.1 certainly did. It also detected and enabled the bluetooth, but was unable to get me bluetooth mouse working.

But alas for the graphics. The “Restricted Driver” section allowed me to get the proprietary drivers, but I could not enable the Compiz Effects.

This is exactly the same error as of 7.10: “Desktop Effects could not be enabled”, or “Composite extension not available”, or something like that.

The solution is to download the xgl-server package, but this is not very commonly figured out on the websites one can search, where changes to the xorg configuration file are the first line.

There were little annoyances here and there too: a slower than normal pointer acceleration, no out-of-the-box support for my Speedtouch 330 USB Modem and incorrect detection of the master channel for my sound card amongst those I can count.

These are superficial problems, and easily solved or worked around, but as I always say for desktops – no one should have to go running to brother Google.


I have to say it: Canonical has delivered it this time round. Stability, desktop power and general aesthetics. Add to it a very active community, and I have to acknowledge Ubuntu 8.04.1 to be one of the best desktop distributions around.

Categories: linux Tags: , ,
  1. Wayne
    3 August 2008 at 6:28 AM

    Just recently installed Ubuntu 8.04.1 and I am extremely happy with it. As for the brown look I like it, only changed the default Human theme to the Human Murrine theme, installed Ubuntu Resticted Extras and the Medibuntu and the fonts and overall look are great. No problems with stability and performance. If anyone wants to know a good wireless USB adapter to use, the Edimax EW-7318USg, works perfectly out-of-the-box.

  2. 3 August 2008 at 9:11 AM

    @Wayne: Exactly. For the most part, I have been impressed. That makes two of us.

    There are people, however, who think that Ubuntu is really bad. I would like to hear from them, and know what their reactions to this 8.04.1 version is.

  3. Ambleston Dack
    3 August 2008 at 1:22 PM

    @ Wayne & Muhammad Fahd Waseem: I have to agree with you two as well 🙂 so that makes three of us.

    I have been a Ubuntu user since 5.10 and I have never had any issues with them. I recently changed the hardware in my PC from an AMD 64 to an AMD 64 X2 and the only OS that booted without any hitches was Ubuntu 8.04.1. The 2 Redmond OS’s couldn’t cope – XP booted but I had to install the correct hardware drivers for the board. Vista, well lets just leave it there shall we. That is not to say that another Linux OS wouldn’t have coped, it would as that is the nature of Linux.

    My point is that Ubuntu gets a bad rap as it is a very popular distro and nobody likes a popular distro. Heck the Linux community cannot have a decent conversation about KDE and Gnome without flamewars erupting. Ah you gotta love the passion the Linux community has ;D

  4. 3 August 2008 at 2:14 PM

    @Ambleston: 🙂

  5. 3 August 2008 at 8:51 PM

    I too have notice the push back against Ubuntu.
    I noted it on my blog post about helping a new user choose a distro:

  6. Frank
    4 August 2008 at 12:32 AM

    mmm….don’t try to Mojave me, I still know is ubuntu 🙂

  7. cb88
    4 August 2008 at 1:50 AM

    you should try installing your ati driver with the envy program available in synaptic it also works for nvidia

    also note you can run the program from the command line if problems pop up.. envyng -t

  8. wally
    4 August 2008 at 1:59 AM

    Just out of curiousity – why would you want Compiz? I see this listed in a lot af reviews as some kind of litmus test, but I always turn stuff like that off on any working machine that I use.
    Is it just because it is there that people assume they should have it? To me good open GL implementation – as tested by the ability to run an actual program like Sketchup – could be a consideration, but that is more a driver issue that might in some cases be outside the Linux sphere.

  9. 4 August 2008 at 6:03 AM

    Nice review. I have the same lappy as you do (great machine) and have been a distro hopper for about 7-8 years. Since I picked this laptop up, I’ve primarily ran 2 flavors. Sidux and Mandriva. I’l get to those in a bit. I ran gutsy for about a month. Ubuntu has it’s place, it really does, but it wasn’t for me. It doesn’t like the webcam (Caused crashes until I built a kernel myself), and was markedly slower that other distros I had used on this computer. Sidux on the other hand, booted in 27 seconds, found all of my hardware (except my ath card, but madwifi was but a m-a away), and had great scripts to help me tweak to my needs. (fglrx and the sidux kernels don’t like each other past 2.6.24 so I used debian sid vanilla kernel). It’s been on my box since dec, and I can’t find many complaints. I did try out the latest mandriva, and a few weeks in, am pleasantly suprised. It’s quick, found all of my stuff at install, and is plugging along happily.
    One quick ? though…are you seeing a savings in your heating bill like I am from the dual amd procs? 😉 My kids roast marshmallows by the hum of my fan….

  10. 4 August 2008 at 8:21 AM

    Well, there is definitely the pushback against Ubuntu. But like Ambleston said, it is the same for all popular distros – some people are going to hate it.

    Though I did not mention it here, I have tried Envy. Like I said, the solution was not to configure Xorg or anything else, it was simply to get the xgl-server package. Envy did not work for me. Anything more tweaky means I would have to forego the desktop emphasis as on all my reviews.

    @wally: I do not want Compiz. In fact, I have rarely ever used it. But the point of fact is that, noting my desktop emphasis, most people do want it for flashy effects, if not the slightly greater usability. It does fall within the Linux sphere – simply because this issue is particular to Linux overall (if not a particular part); I have not seen such issues in, say, Windows Vista.
    As for your suggestion about testing programs, I have definitely noted down the good idea. My next review (probably SUSE 11) will incorporate it.

    @MrChilly: Well, actually, I liked Mandriva 2008.1 too. I have not tried SUSE 11 yet, so I cannot say anything about that, but from pure experience, OpenSUSE 10.3 is the best distro on this machine – tried it? It is the only distro that worked completely out of the box for me.
    Oh, and I love my machine too – beats much newer machines on raw calculation power. And I do not know much about marshmallows (we do not easily have them in Pakistan), but I never needed a flame griller…

  11. N. Elia
    4 August 2008 at 12:12 PM


    i must say that you are a bit unfair towards the great effort that the ubuntu community has put in order to drive the ubuntu distro where it is now.

    In just 4 small paragraphs which barely try or can scratch the serface of the 8.04.1 release you come to conclusions that are far from being documented and factual. The proprietary driver listed at the restricted drivers section is just a B plan option just in case the Xorg can not pick up the systems card. Since the nvidia/ati drivers are restricted the only thing that has to be done is to utilize the envy application and you are just 1-click away from a very pleasing 3D experience.

    Linux Facts:

    1.Linux is no more an OS just for hardcore terminal-happy geeks
    2.No other distro (including debian) has managed to come close to the ease of use and stability of the ubuntu release.
    3.If you are new to the Linux OS’s, ubuntu has the most user-friendly and reach communities in order to get help from.
    4. Did you try any other current non-debian release recently?
    Do that and you will see.

    I have been using ubuntu since 2005 in a single boot environment and i had to learn the hard way. Personally, i can not excuse anyone that tried 8.04.1 and has even the slightest complain. That someone needs to sort out his mind on the eternal geek debate; Win VS. Lin

    Adding to the above, i have to say that i do not benefit from canonical nor i work for them. The above derive from the fact that:

    And other distros that i cant remember right now, and that i have used,

    Do not even come close to being compared with the usability, common sense design and the home-feeling that ubuntu delivers.

    Thanks a lot


  12. Ali
    4 August 2008 at 3:07 PM

    8.04.1 did not detect the wireless on my IBM ThinkPad X60s. The 7.10 did and I am still using it.

  13. Nabeel
    4 August 2008 at 5:00 PM

    Well, I was a FC user before I recently tested Ubuntu 7.04 and I must say on my Dell 6400, it installed like a charm. Specially the Debian pkg manager is gr8. I wonder why Mandrivia does’nt have that. Honestly speaking, I am leaned towards KDE since RedHat 7, but Ubuntu’s strong community support is retaining me to shift to Mandrivia.

  14. 4 August 2008 at 7:08 PM

    @N. Elia: I think you are being rather unfair with me. I did try Envy, and as I noted previously, it did not work for me.
    I agree that Ubuntu is user friendly, and as you noted in my verdict, I called it “one of the best desktop distributions around”
    On a side note: For me, OpenSUSE 10.3 has been the best distribution of all – the only one that ran completely hitch free out of the box. I am perfectly fair – I have little to complain about Windows Vista on a machine with my specifications too.

    @Ali: It was the other way round with me. Variability.

    @Nabeel: Well, I might suggest that you should try Mandriva. The community support at mandrivausers.org is strong – I have personal experience to vouch for that. But that said – Ubuntu is getting better by the day.
    I can only make a definite desktop recommendation after I test OpenSUSE 11, but Mandriva (KDE 3.5) and Ubuntu (Gnome) are excellent choices.

  15. davemc
    4 August 2008 at 7:19 PM

    Well, I am a fairly recent Ubuntu convert, but before then I was a Gentoo geek freak. I used to flame Ubuntu reviews for being too biased, for not giving credit to the larger community, etc… I still do believe that Linux as a whole is truly a communal effort and that no single Distribution should be used as a poster child for Linux as a whole. Even Shuttleworth alluded to this at the latest OSCON. Ubuntu does truly have some rough spots, and I think anyone who has used it for an extended time and on multiple platforms knows this to be fact, but not one of those trouble spots I have run across caused me more than a few minutes of Google time with sometimes some small amount of copy & paste at a Terminal. In short, Ubuntu turned me into the Geek I never could be while using Gentoo, because Gentoo is just a bit too difficult/time consuming to really enjoy. Ubuntu allows the “geek in you” to come out by allowing the full control all Linux Distro’s give you, while automating some of the more difficult tasks most dont. Ubuntu provides automated tools to bypass alot of the mind numbing, and sometimes very difficult tasks like Codec/Proprietary Driver configs/installs (NVIDIA/ATI, Wireless, Codecs – MP3, Libdvdcss, Flash/Java, etc. etc.), automated Printer utilities, automated Networking setups (SAMBA, NFS), nearly automated server setups (Apache, Mysql, etc). Sure, some of those things like setting up Apache or advanced SAMBA setups require a bit of “geek time” following a guide or wiki, but doing that has never taken me more than 15-30 minutes start to finish, and when done, I am that much smarter, and so much more satisfied with my computing experience. So for those who use Linux but hate Ubuntu, shame on you! Perhaps you should try it honestly and objectively through the lens of what it is, instead of what YOU think a distro should be like to fit your biased opinion of what Linux is/is not.

  16. 4 August 2008 at 9:05 PM

    Ubuntu GNU/Linux: A brief critique.


  17. 4 August 2008 at 10:11 PM

    @davemc: My dear sir, you are unwittingly paying a compliment. First of all, this review is a desktop emphasized review – note the title. Secondly, I have given all credit to the usability of this distro, which is exactly what you claim. I have even noted in reply to a few comments up there: Ubuntu is good, which is what my verdict was, anyway.
    Yet, I am not a convert. For me, the power and usability of OpenSUSE 10.3 is unmatched – so far.

  18. A.A
    5 August 2008 at 5:52 AM

    I’m using Ubuntu 8.04.1 on Toshiba Satellite A215-S5824 for several months and it works very fine. Wireless and SD Card works fine too. I have also encrypt my hard disk using the alternate desktop installer.

  19. kazuya
    6 August 2008 at 7:59 PM

    To each his own. I still love Ubuntu even though now I use Linux Mint which is based on Ubuntu and in a sense is ubuntu. Opensuse, for me while okay and tolerable and polished in some regards, just was not feauture rich enough for my computing needs and felt slower.

    I have some friends who like Opensuse, but more who use and find Ubuntu way easier to use and manage present and future.

    I love other distros like Mepis, Linux Mint, Vector Linux, Pclinux, and Arch linux- well there are just too many. Suse, sadly was not one of those for me. But it is a very polished looking product.. Just too bloated and restricted for me.

    My opinion on Suse, may change in the near future though. They are all linux in the end.

    I also love DesktopBSD.

  20. 6 August 2008 at 9:30 PM

    @kazuya: Yes, to each his own. I have never used BSD yet.

    I disagree that it is not feature rich. Can you name a few major aspects in which SUSE lags in terms of features?

    It is bloated, to some extent. That is the SUSE way (so far), and not to the liking of everyone. Truth is, what you call bloatedness (and I, richness)is one of the things I like about SUSE. With a computer powerful enough to shrug off the ‘slowness’, it really comes into the spotlight.

    As of now, I speak for OpenSUSE 10.3. In the near future, I will really test SUSE 11, and really put it to the blade, and see what falls out.

  21. Eddie Wilson
    6 August 2008 at 10:06 PM

    Good Day,
    I’ve used OpenSUSE 10.3 and also 11.0. Suse is a fine distro. One term I really don’t care for is “out of the box”. That is relative to what a person would think an out of the box experience should be. What may be an out of the box experience for you may fall short of that for me. For me Ubuntu delivered more of an out of the box experience than OpenSUSE. But again that is just my opinion. As I see it no distro has a complete out of the box setup. A person will always have to do something to get it to work the way he wants it to. Then again this may not be the case for other people. All that people can do in a review is to explain how the distro installed and ran for them. While I do read reviews I really don’t base any kind of choices on them. I use them as sort of an information tool on what may happen or what may not happen. I would like to thank you for the review. A person can use all the info he or she can get.

  22. 6 August 2008 at 11:28 PM

    @Eddie: You are perfectly right. “Out of the box” is rather relative. Some people prefer large customizations, some use distros “as is”.

    Nevertheless, “out of the box” can be generically used to say that “most of the core, basic, things worked right after install, without tweaking needed”.

    I use them [reviews] as sort of an information tool on what may happen or what may not happen

    Once again, rightly said. A review cannot have the right to “recommend” something, only define the experience, and present an endnote.

    I would like to thank you for the review

    And my thanks to you too, for such a neatly written comment. One needs such balanced words, time to time.

  23. MrChilly
    7 August 2008 at 5:53 AM

    Wow…just wow

    What I noticed that was pointed out about ubuntu wasn’t that it was awful or a hack distro, it just didn’t fit certain users needs. I realise that people have very strong feelings about the distros of their choice, but some of us need to lay off the coffee (or strong tea depending on where you are). The distros strive to be the most complete user experience possible, but when dealing with fickle people, no one is ever going to be 100% happy. Ubuntu has it’s place…and there’s a reason it’s one of the top distros. But it doesn’t and never will, work for everyone. That is not a dig at ubuntu, it’s just fact. Someone will always point out some detail that they don’t like. Sidux fits my machine and myself great. Doesn’t mean I think Ubuntu is crap. I will say this. For a new user, PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu are both great choices that can let a user grow and yet never be outgrown. My first linux experience was a Gentoo stage 1 install. Very very stupid choice. Yet I learned the ins and outs of the OS and eventually came out being a (I think) competent linux user. But like the distros themselves…it fit me and my needs, but doesn’t fit other people.

  24. 7 August 2008 at 9:58 AM

    @MrChilly: You are right about particular distros being particular for a particular group of people. This Ubuntu review focused on the general usability as a desktop – generally implicated for average, non technical users, that make up the majority of the populace.
    For me, SUSE 10.3 worked best. For you, Sidux. For many in this thread, it is Ubuntu. For others, it may be Mandriva, Sabayon, Arch or something else.
    To the freedom of Linux!

  25. Ubuntu user
    18 August 2008 at 7:37 AM

    Skype again is not installed. HP laptop again is getting booting troubles. USB webcam again has issue with replugging…. and so on.
    Why guys are happy I do not understand!

    Free of charge? Maybe free of consumer market?

    SuSE 11 – USB webcam issues but more polished toward consumer market.

    What I dream BEOS….

  26. Abdul
    24 August 2008 at 5:33 PM


    I’m using Ubuntu for short time and find it very good,I install ubuntu on my laptop its Lenovo Y500 everything is working except my wireless.Can anybody help me out? Please give me some details so that I can learn more about Linux.


  27. 26 August 2008 at 9:10 AM

    @ Abdul: Truth is, I could not find anything of that kind in a cursory search on Google.

    But have you tried Ndiswrapper to import your Windows driver for the wireless card?

  28. Kerry
    21 September 2008 at 9:17 PM

    Hello all,

    I am without a doubt a beginner in the realm of Linux, and admit it without shame. I recently installed Ubuntu 8.04.1 (with the help of a Linux friend) and have had very few problems except in the case of the “Grub editor.” I installed Ubuntu on a separate drive and kept my XP installation intact. This presented problems for me, but with a little help I managed to get by at least one of them. Problems as follows:

    1. Every time I open the grub boot editor it changes my boot to some other configuration and I cannot open my XP. I solved this problem by going online and finding out what “error 13” was and copied and pasted the solution into my “menu.lst” using the text editor rather than the grub editor.

    2. I wanted to put some quick launch icons on the task bar for the “Open Office” progams wich come built into Ubuntu and to my surprize every time I rebooted they would vanish, even though I locked them to the task bar. When I re-created the icon and dropped it onto the taskbar, “Poof” the old one would show up again. Although these small issues are problematic, not a big deal, but to someone not willing to experiment and play around with the OS this could be quite a downside, especially if you don’t have the patience and expect it to work first time out.

    3. Adobe Flash player 9 does not work with Ubuntu(yet!) so if you go to sites like “Youtube” you will have a few problems as well as sites using shockwave player for mini gaming (online gambling) etc.

    Now I don’t want to put a bad spin on Ubuntu. I like it very much and tend to have some patience while I work through the bugs. Let me also say that part of the fun in using Ubuntu is working around some of the issues. However, the more improvments that are made to this fabulous software, the quicker I for-see a real challenge to Microsoft. (They are getting very close) The challenges that Ubuntu faces are more in the realm of bringing on board the hardware/sofware manufacturers to include the drivers for Linux based systems.



  29. 22 September 2008 at 6:46 PM

    @ Kerry: I really appreciate the fact that people are willing to try out a new OS, and try to solve the problems they face instead of just negativising Linux and reverting to XP.

    The little bugs you mention are there, and more. But these are patched and fixed rapidly, and the evolution of Ubuntu (along with Linux, of course) never stops.

    As for hardware, my particular problems are with graphics cards and the more unusual hardware. But despite the rare problems, as you point out, Microsoft had better look out, say, 10 years in the future.

  30. 23 September 2008 at 5:18 AM

    thanks much, dude

  31. 17 November 2009 at 4:49 PM

    On a Mac OS X system, we recommend using a virtual system such as Parallels.

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