Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr – Review

I just upgraded to 14.04 LTS today and, from what I’ve seen, it’s pretty slick. While Ubuntu LTS releases don’t usually include tons of new features, 14.04 is definitely not a boring release!

The majority of the features in 14.04 are cosmetic, and even though your average user wouldn’t recognize them, there are definitely there and if you know what to look for, they are very cool.

Here’s a video by OMG! Ubuntu! showing off some of the great new features (I have no rights to it, all work was done by OMG! Ubuntu!):

Just as a side note, many of the features are very hard, or even impossible, to show in a screenshot. I’ve done my best to provide pictures as I can, but if you want to see the features the best, watch the video above.

First thing I noticed after upgrading was actually before the post-upgrade reboot, or rather, while it was going on. The Ubuntu logo hex now, instead of having a transparent ring of friends inside of white, has an orange ring of friends inside of white. In my opinion it brings a bit of color to the boot/reboot sequence, and I quite like it. You can see a comparison of the two here:

bootscreen comparison - 14.04 vs pre-13.10

Comparison of 14.04 boot splash & 13.10 boot splash  Compare the highlighted areas

Second feature I’m going to cover is the new lock screen. Ubuntu finally has an integrated lock screen that works flawlessly. You can now press Super+L and lock the screen with a slick new fade-in/fade-out animation. You no longer have to click on the power menu to lock the screen, just press the key combination and you’re golden.

Ubuntu 14.04 Lock Screen

Ubuntu 14.04 Lock Screen

One feature is the locally integrated menus. In previous versions of Ubuntu the window’s menus were displayed at the top of the screen, and a long-requested, and long-begrudged, feature is the ability to have them on the actual window. So, in 14.04, you get the option to enable this. You do have to enable it manually, it isn’t automatically enabled. I’ll be posting a Top 10 things to do after installing 14.04 later and I’ll explain how to enable this feature.

For now, this is what it looks like (window is currently not maximized

Locally integrated menus in 14.04

Locally integrated menus in 14.04

Next, Theme changes. Unity, although hated by many, is really becoming a usable and well-crafted Desktop Environment. I’ve used GNOME, Unity, and LXDE, not to mention XFCE shortly, and, although my GNOME and XFCE use has been limited, and I use LXDE quite often on my iBook G4, I do prefer Unity.

And, Unity went on a shopping trip, coming back with border-less windows and the corners are now anti-aliased and thus smoother. You can see both of those here, sort of:

14.04 Nautilus Window

14.04 Nautilus Window – Shows the new anti-aliased corners and border-less windows

Also,  Unity comes with the new GTK3 CSS3 themed window decorations which Web UPD8 covered a while back, replacing the Compiz Decor plugin.
The new decoration will support full GTK 3 theming as well as a fix for an old issue: the top panel is now right-clickable when a window is maximized. It’ll allows you access to the usual window right-click menu (maximize, minimize, move, resize, multiple desktop controls, and close.)

The default Ubuntu themes, Ambiance and Radiance, received support for these new decorations a while back, that’s why they look the same as with the old Compiz decorations. Thus, you won’t see any major change just because it uses the new CSS3/GTK3 decorations.

Menus have a slight style change, the dividers are a bit more pronounced. In the following picture my pointer is pointing at the divider:

Menu in 14.04

Menu in 14.04 – Pointer is on the divider

Another thing, when you resize windows, they live-resize instead of the orange box it was previously. This means that you get to see the content of the window as it will appear within the resized window.

One other thing is App & Window Spread Typing, you can now narrow windows down by name. I don’t tend to have a lot of windows open, or if I do, they will be on separate desktops. Thus, I don’t think I will be using this feature very often. However, I’m sure others will.

The graphics engine behind Unity, Compiz, has slowly been getting better. The animations, are smooth as butter and has very few visible graphics glitches. Canonical has also made the UI optimized for Hi-density displays, a must for many modern systems.

The latest versions of the default software, Firefox, Thunderbird, Libreoffice, Shotwell, Rythmbox, and Empathy are all pre-installed, giving you the most up-to-date software at your finger-tips!

All in all, what I’ve seen of 14.04 LTS has been very nice. It does seem a bit slow on the boot, but that could be my hard-drive dying or post-installation kinks being worked out and I haven’t run any tests, so don’t go by my judgment on the speed.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but as I discover new features I will definitely edit this post to include them! Also, make sure to check for my Top 10 things to do after installing Ubuntu 14.04 post tomorrow!

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2 thoughts on “Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr – Review

  1. hgind says:

    Great review. Keep the hard work up.

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