Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander Released
Canonical have today announce the release of the latest version of their open source operating system, Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander. I’ve heard very mixed reviews about 13.10, on the one hand, some people are saying that the performance if the best yet, but others are saying that they don’t like the Smart Scopes. Let’s take a look…
I’ve been testing Ubuntu 13.10 for a few days now, and I have to say, the performance is pretty sharp. I always found that the Unity Dash felt sluggish, but I have to say that now, things are feeling much more snappy. The Dash, applications, system boot, and general navigating around Ubuntu 13.10 feels a lot more like the good old days of Lucid. I have to say, I’m really impressed.
With memory idling at less than 370MB of RAM usage, it’s pretty darn good – so even if you’re only running 2GB of RAM on your machine, there’s plenty left over for other things. Never-mind if you’re on a powerful machine with much more RAM.
Not So Smart Scopes
The new Smart Scopes feature is probably the shining light of Ubuntu 13.10. With most of the other changes going on under the hood, and only minimal changes on the look of the OS (which are really nice by the way), Smart Scopes are going to be the only new feature I’m going to cover in detail.
For those that don’t know, Smart Scopes are addons for the Unity Dash, that go away and search online repositories like Google, Wikipedia, Reddit, and of course Amazon. So if you were to search for something like “docs” with the intention of looking for a folder that contains the word “docs”, the Ubuntu 13.10 Smart Scopes will go away and search all of these online repositories for “docs”.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the results leave something to be desired, and with the shopping results present, it just feels like there are adverts beaming right into my desktop – which makes me feel all icky, personally. Smart Scopes can easily be turned off from the settings menu, but it’s an all-or-nothing kind of deal. So you can’t switch certain ones off – bummer.
A Click To Far
Say I’ve searched for “docs”, and I now want to open the “Car Docs” folder shown above, I click on the folder, and instead of the folder actually opening, I instead get a preview with a button to open the folder. And it’s the same drill for every single result within the Dash.
This may sound like a very insignificant thing, but imagine you are doing this 100 times a day (which I would easily do during a work day) this is a lot of wasted time, and frustration.Â It’s ridiculous.
Not only do these adverts that are beamed right to my desktop make me feel icky inside, they also have me thinking about privacy, you see, 100% of the items I would search for in the Dash, would be local searches. If I want to shop for something, I’ll go to Amazon, if I want to check out Reddit, same drill. I don’t want the whole world to be beamed to my desktop whenever I search for a local file or folder.
But that’s not the worrying thing, the worrying thing is that having the ability to get these search results means that your search term and IP address are being sent to these 3rd parties. Canonical say that they normalise all the information, before sending it on to the vendors, but what if the NSA check up on Amazon, and then say “ah-ha, the guy at IP address 22.214.171.124 searched for ‘terrorism’ – we want the details on this guy”. Amazon would then be forced to give out information, or, send them Canonicals way for more details.
Not that I’d ever search for anything of interest to the NSA, but that’s not the point, the point is that what’s supposed to be a local, private search is now being broadcast all over the Internet. Bad times.
I like Ubuntu 13.10, but the Smart ScopesÂ reallyÂ turn me off. Ubuntu remains to be a more than capable operating system, so I’m still considering simply turning the Smart Scopes off, and giving Ubuntu 13.10 a regular slot on my machine. But with other great Ubuntu based Linux distributions like Elementary Luna, and Ubuntu Gnome, it’s hard to say if that will happen.
What do you guys think about Ubuntu 13.10, and the new Smart Scopes? Are they a game changer that will ensure you stick with Ubuntu for years to come? Or are they an annoyance that should have never been written? Feel free to have your say below…