The coming of Canonical's new release, Maverick Meerkat, has stirred a beehive and we hear a lot of noise among Ubuntu fans lately. Claims like "the best Ubuntu release", "the fastest boot up", and "a truly horrible wallpaper" were repeated in many blogs. All these words in the wind have stung my curiosity.
Although I am not particularly a fan of Ubuntu, in my quest to find the perfect rescue distro, I decided to download the Meerkat Live CD and give it a try. One never knows...maybe Canonical discovered the philosopher's stone.
A rescue distro is what I call a GNU/Linux distribution that can help a computer user backup, restore, and modify files from other OSs sitting on different partitions. That is, a rescue distro does not need to be installed to achieve that purpose, otherwise most Linux distros would do the trick. Another characteristic that I ascribe to a rescue distro is its ease of use: a plain computer user should be able to resort to it without a great deal of effort or technical training.
Can the Meerkat enter the arena and claim the crown? To discover Ubuntu's potential as a rescue distro, I ran my newly-downloaded distro and
I found that the fast boot claim is true, even for a Live CD. The Meerkat started in less than 1:45 minutes, beating my install of SimplyMEPIS 8.5 and the boot of Mandriva 2010.1 ONE in Live mode (which takes a lot longer). There is a catch, however. Even though you see the familiar aubergine desktop, it is not ready for use: you get the installation/trial screen next. So, I chose "try" and the boot up sequence got a little prolonged. I could use the system after 3 minutes had elapsed. That is rather fast for a Live CD in my opinion.
Unfortunately, I cannot say anything about what new features Ubuntu brings for I am not familiar with this Linux distribution. I was not crazy about the wallpaper, but it was not so disturbing as the one I had seen Ubuntu fans criticize so much. I had also heard that this Ubuntu release would bring LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice.org, but I saw the latter.
Positive Side: performance and software
I liked the fact that you get an automatic preview of .ogg sound files by just hovering over the icon (this feature does not work with MP3s, though).
Firefox (3.6.10) runs fast, too. The dictionary is a nice add-on. Hibernation seems to be working (I am not sure because I was running a Live CD, but the computer reacted as it should have). Both my USB card reader and my MP4 player were supported. Wired network connectivity was perfect.
Negative Side: performance
Interestingly, Ubuntu Software Center crashed when I was just browsing the options the first time I used the Live CD (I tried to replicate the crash unsuccessfully, so maybe it was an isolated problem).
Although other partitions are mounted, the Meerkat did not let me delete files from any of them. I can copy files to a Windows partition from Ubuntu 10.10, but it is impossible to copy to or delete files from my Mandriva partition and, therefore, I must conclude that the Maverick Meerkat does not outperform SimplyMEPIS 8.0 for rescuing a troubled OS in Live mode. Maverick Meerkat might be very good to recover files from Windows in Live mode, but it did not work with a Linux system like Mandriva.
I must keep looking.