It is time to start thinking about the next release cycle and the present state of what will be the foundation of our next releases. Ubuntu 9.10 is approaching alpha 5, here is how things currently stand. After installation of today's daily build I had to run fsck before the system would boot for the first time. This has something to do with the new kernel and ext4, this will be fixed before the final release and at the moment is just a minor inconvenience.
Ubuntu is working on the "boot experience", the throbber needs a little work but things are looking good. There is a new GDM, it fits the system better and gives Gnome more consistency in my opinion. If you have checked out Fedora lately then you know what the new GDM syle looks like. All things considered, Ubuntu is doing a much better job on themes and artwork. The new throbber is from the first artwork drop from the 27th.
Firefox 3.5 is the default browser. Ubuntu has fixed the firefox.sh file so the full screen flash issue is resolved. I have noticed some multimedia issues with Firefox 3.5 though. One pod cast I tested would not display or play properly in the browser, it played perfectly though in any media player when running from the player itself. (example: in terminal type "totem http://linuxcrazy.com/podcasts/LC-62-zach.ogg) I will wait until xulrunner is updated to report a bug, currently xulrunner is not working in 3.5 properly.
Evolution actually remembers my password this time around! This is the best version of Evolution I have seen so far, it actually works!
The Intel issue looks much better for the 8x series of Intel graphics. Full screen multimedia is working as well as Compiz. Memory use is very good even with Compiz enabled. I tested DVD playback with Totem, play back was clean and problem free.
System sounds are not currently working, no log on sound or annoying beeps at shut down or restart. I would like to see this fixed but am happy to not have to hear the annoying beeps any more. Sound in applications seems to work fine here. There are bug reports open for multiple sound streams but I can only listen to one thing at a time so it's not a big issue for me at this time. There is still plenty of development time remaining to fix these issues.
Empathy is the new default messenger. I tested Empathy with my Yahoo account and it worked fine. Empathy is very light and seems to do a decent job. There is a new "Disk Utility", it provides hardware information including the temperature of the hard drive, handy!
I had a couple of Nautilus crashes, they may have been related to readahead. I think that readahead indexes the files on the hard drive because I saw it when I used top the first couple of times. The Nautilus crashes had no effect on the system, only a report saying there was a crash. Turning off error reporting solved this and it is still an alpha release.
System Services has had an update to it's GUI, it looks more professional and thought out. System Services produces an error the first time you launch it but will launch on a second try. Gnome is at 2.27.91 and is not at final release just yet so this type of bug is to be expected and is not that big of an issue. I would think this will be fixed when Gnome 2.28.0 final is released.
With all of the different packages at different stages of development Ubuntu 9.10 is looking very good. I do not think that Ubuntu will improve on boot time as they had hoped but I think it will be around the same as 9.04. I am not saying that the boot time is bad by any means and I have not timed it but it does not seem any faster to me. Ext4 seems slightly faster once the system is booted up and application launch is quick. There is still two months of development time remaining but for now it looks like things are headed in the right direction.
Edit: Already subscribed to a bug report! Nautilus will not open as root.