Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala - default desktop
In this article I'll overview the latest update of Karmic, after installing the Alpha 3 and performing a full sudo apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade. Currently, Karmic Koala comes with Linux kernel 2.6.31, GNOME 2.27.5 as desktop environment, Empathy as the default chat application, OpenOffice 3.1 as the office suite, GIMP 2.6.6 as image editor. Firefox 3.5 is not yet included in the Karmic repositories, but it will surely be available in the October release, so currently 3.0.13 is the version in the repositories.
Karmic Koala will come with Ubuntu One integration, which is a service that provides a free 2 GB disk space to Ubuntu users.
Ubuntu One homepage
All you have to do is create a new account for Ubuntu One or use your already existing Launchpad.net account, then fire up Ubuntu One from the Applications -> Internet -> Ubuntu One menu entry, and start uploading your files. This service also includes a paid account which offers a 10 GB disk space.
Ubuntu One client
Empathy is the new instant messaging application in Karmic, replacing Pidgin completely and introducing the Telepathy protocol. Empathy has a user interface based on Gossip, which is a chat client for GNOME on top of Jabber.
Empathy supports many IM protocols, including Yahoo!, Jabber or MSN. Besides those, support for internet relay chat (IRC) is also available, to say nothing about Google Talk voice calls. Empathy also comes with smileys, notifications, sounds, conversation logging and themes for the user list.
Empathy running in Karmic
Ubuntu Karmic switched to ext4 as the default filesystem, but you can change to ext3 or some other filesystem using the partitioner included in the installer.
Another major change is the use of GRUB 2, the new boot manager.
Regarding development, Karmic will use the latest version of GCC 4.4 instead of 4.3.
Some other applications bundled with the Ubuntu CD include Transmission for BitTorrent, Evolution as the email client, over 10 GNOME games like Chess, Mahjongg, Four-in-a-Row or Sudoku, Totem for movies and videos, Rhythmbox as the music player, or the notes-taking application Tomboy.
One of the other changes with impact on the user interface is the GNOME display manager (gdm), which was rewritten completely for this release.
Ubuntu came a long way since the old days and it consolidates its position more and more with every new release. Karmic can be only a step ahead considering all the hard work that was put in GNOME and in key graphical applications like Firefox, GIMP or OpenOffice.