The Ubuntu community released Alpha 3 of the next-generation Lucid Lynx version of its desktop OS, and it's becoming increasingly clear that Microsoft will have difficulty putting any daylight between Windows 7 and the free operating system.
Lucid Lynx is not even in beta yet, but already the signs are clear from its final Alpha version that the development community led by Canonical is outdoing itself. The OS, as we've previously noted, is closer than Windows 7 to the long-coveted "instant on" designation. After a breezy, 10-minute installation on a PC with an Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 at 2.80GHz and 2 GB of RAM, the newest Lucid Lynx Alpha booted in 15.2 seconds. That's the same amount of time as the second Alpha, but the third version did add a number of features and much more driver support.
Windows 7 boots in 30 seconds on the same PC test bed.
But with this Alpha, it's about much more than speed. It's very clean -- even for alpha software -- provided solid support for the Nvidia graphics and bundles in a significant number of applications this time around. For example, Lucid Lynx Alpha 3 bundles in Gwibber, a social networking application that aggregates services including Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.
Typically, OpenOffice.org, Evolution Email and other included applications did just fine.
As a host OS, we installed the VirtualBox vm application to create a Windows 7 guest virtual machine inside Lucid Lynx. It was nicely stable. Then, on a PC with Windows 7 as a host OS, we installed VMware's VMware Player and loaded Lucid Lynx Alpha 3 as a virtual machine. A-OK.
It's not perfect yet. We did experience a couple of crashes of the Ubuntu Software Center (which provides graphical access to third-party applications.) However, the actual software we wanted to install still installed and worked.
The first beta of Lucid Lynx is scheduled for March 18, and launch of the Long-Term Stable (LTS) operating system is on the calendar for April 29. Folks, this is the real deal.