Ubuntu 13.10: Slightly Updated but Solid Overall
I’ve used Ubuntu on and off since 2009 when I realized it made my netbook that was initially using Windows XP run way faster. Canonical, the team behind Ubuntu, has since shifted their focus away from making a basic operating system that just works, to a modern operating system comparable in UI and function to Windows 8 and OSX. Since Ubuntu 11.04, Canonical replaced the well-loved but slightly outdated-in-design Gnome 2 shell in favor of the buggy but modern Unity shell, and throughout the succeeding versions of Ubuntu, the Unity shell has undergone design changes, feature updates and bug fixes to make it run faster. Until 13.04, when the only changes made overall throughout Ubuntu were some few design tweaks, but nothing in-your-face new. The same goes for 13.10, released on October 17th, 2013.
Some new features in Unity include more search features for online search engines in the Dash. For example, if you search for Billy Joel, you’ll first get the Billy Joel songs on your computer, after that you’ll find search results from other related and sometimes unrelated sites like the Ubuntu One Music Store and GrooveShark bringing relevant results and FourSquare and Etsy bringing results not even close to music. But I can’t fault Ubuntu there, it is impressive how well the search feature works overall. Other than a few other UI tweaks, a “text entry” menu included at the top right, and, finally, a battery percentage bar added to the power settings menu, Ubuntu 13.10 is pretty boring. It’s mostly bug fixes and performance increases.
Although, there is one problem I’ve had, along with others on forums with no fix in sight. I can’t adjust the brightness at all. The function buttons work, they indicate on-screen that they should be changing, but the brightness stays the same. The same goes for in the settings. It always seems that when I install a new version of Ubuntu, something breaks. Hopefully there’s a bug fix for this soon.
Otherwise, Ubuntu 13.10 is a solid release. If you’re looking for an alternative to Windows, or just curious and want to try it out, just go to Ubuntu’s website.