Despite the fact that I only started using Ubuntu 6.06 ("Dapper Drake") less than a month ago, I have quickly become bored with it. While the six month release schedule ensures that development happens quickly, it is necessary to upgrade to the latest development version in order to receive the newest packages. Since I like using bleeding edge software on my computer, I recently upgraded to the prerelease version of Ubuntu 6.10, which will be released in October of this year.

Ubuntu 6.10 is codenamed Edgy Eft. Mark Shuttleworth, leader of the Ubuntu project, described 6.10 as a risk-taking release:

Edgy is all about cutting edge, perhaps bleeding edge, brand new code and infrastructure. It will be the right time to bring in some seriously interesting but definitely edgy new technologies which lay the groundwork for the next wave of Ubuntu development.

An Eft is a youthful newt, going through its first exploration of the rocky territory just outside the stream. And that's exactly what we hope the development team will do with Ubuntu during the Edgy cycle - explore slightly unfamiliar and uncharted territory that is perhaps a little out of the mainstream.

I was a bit hesitant to switch to Edgy so early in the development cycle. I can recall hearing stories that the X server packages, which control graphical output in Linux, were often broken in the prerelease versions of Ubuntu 6.06. Only having access to a command prompt is not a good way to get things done.

Luckily, the two times X broke occurred on weekends. Both of these outages were related to upgrading from Dapper's 7.0 to 7.1. After a fonts problem that was quickly fixed last weekend, I partially downgraded the version of X I was using, because the module for my video card's graphic acceleration was not working. This weekend, I realized that touchpad tapping was not disabled. Assuming that it had somehow broken, I spent a significant period of time trying to fix it, only to finally realize that the module for my touchpad was still not being loaded. Again, I found a fix for this issue on the Ubuntu forums, but it required me to upgrade X, which would cause graphics acceleration to stop working again! I avoided the entire issue by downgrading all of the X packages to the versions used in Ubuntu 6.06.

I have run into some other small issues (I cannot upgrade to OpenOffice 2.0.3 because the packages conflict with the pre-existing packages on my system for OpenOffice 2.0.2; Gnome-Terminal had an annoying problem - fixed earlier this week - when switching to the first tab would cause the entire window to expand; I had to manually reinstall all of the Gnome applications that use Python bindings; etc.) but nothing show-stopping.

The new and improved Gnome Power Manager utility.
The benefits are small, but important enough to me that I am glad that I switched. Along with a newer kernel (better hardware support!) and Gnome 2.15, virtually all of the applications I use on a daily basis have been updated.[1] The updates to Gnome Power Manager particularly interest me. In addition to more information about my battery (see right), there are also several graphs detailing the computer's power consumption and charge rates. I would have made a screenshot of them, but they look very uninteresting when your computer has been running on AC power for the last 12 hours.

If you are interested in trying out Edgy Eft, but do not want to commit to installing it on your computer, you can download a LiveCD of a relatively non-buggy version.
[1] Three exceptions: Mozilla Firefox, Gaim, and Banshee. In all three cases, I was previously using unstable development versions anyway, so it does not really matter.