It has been a while since Ubuntu Precise Pangolin and its derivatives hit the market (amidst great fanfare concerning the latest features). However, Ubuntu has other, more behind-the-scenes features which make it an amazing desktop operating system. Here are my top ten slightly-hidden features in Ubuntu 12.04:

10. Realtime Processing

People in audio production require realtime processing in the kernel, which has unfortunately been a problem on Linux. Nowadays, however, any distribution built on Linux 3.0+ which runs on more-than-basic hardware has realtime capabilities.

9. Great PDF and PS Integration

Ubuntu uses CUPS as its printing server, which means that all applications can easily print to PDF or Postscript. On top of this, the "poppler-utils" package is installed by default, which provides command-line commands for easy conversion/export between many file formats including PS, PDF, SVG, JPEG, PNG, and TXT.

8. Great Software Available

There is a whole world of amazing and often open-source software that can be installed on Linux distributions. Thanks to applications such as Scribus, Inkscape, Ardour, and the upcoming Novacut, Ubuntu is a real contendor as a platform for the holy grail of desktop computing: multimedia production.

7. Better Unity Dash Defaults

The Unity team has done some great work since its controversial launch. Instead of a few basic options when opening up the Dash, my most-used and recently-opened apps and documents are displayed, which now means that I don't have to create Launcher shortcuts to easily reach my favourite things.

6. Fast Unity Dash Searching

Really great work has been done behind the scenes, resulting in much faster searching in the Dash and more relevant, personalised results.

5. Automated Web Browser Updates

Long-gone are the days that updates for our web browsers need to be manually downloaded or installed. Firefox and Chrome/ium updates are easy and near-instant on Ubuntu. Now, only your boss still uses IE6.

4. Subtle GTK+ Theme Tweaks

The default GTK+ theme in Ubuntu has been tweaked in many unobtrusive ways, with softer gradients, smaller drop shadows, fantastic tooltips, and great "unfocused" windows. Your favourite KDE/Qt applications, of course, integrate well due to the Qt framework's support of GTK+ themes.

3. Better Power Management

Poor power management in the Linux kernel has been a large issue over the past couple of years, sometimes causing dangerously high CPU temperatures or very noisy fans. However, the 3.2 release of Linux has already addressed many of these problems, and for me at least, the difference is quite noticeable.

2. Great Gaming

Since the launch of the Humble Indie Bundles, Linux has become an ever-increasingly popular gaming platform. A large number of games have become available in the Ubuntu Software Centre, while Desura has an official, open-source, Linux client. With a Linux client for Steam on its way, Ubuntu, or any other distribution for that matter, will soon be a good choice for gamers.

1. No Viruses, Ever

My wife only knows how to use Microsoft software, and does not want to switch because she legally purchased it. This means she still needs anti-virus software. It took us a week to find a good package that isn't a 30-day trial run, but it randomly speaks in a strange voice about her updates. This happens at odd times and cannot be switched off. That never happens to me because Ubuntu is built on Linux, which is so secure that Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter, and Oracle trust and use it.


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