Mayank Sharmawonders whether this education-oriented distro does enough to push new users to the head of the class.
UberStudent’s development is led by a professional educator, which is perhaps why the distro pitches itself as more than just another collection of education programs. The developers have gone the extra mile to make it approachable and accessible to all members of the academic diaspora; in fact, one of the distro’s design goals is to foster computer literacy.
The latest version, UberStudent 4, is based on the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release and uses a customised Xfce desktop.
All educational apps are included within the Education applications menu entry, with sub-categories such as Research and Writing, and Study Aids. If any app lacks documentation, the developers trawl the internet and add resources to a Documentation submenu. The developers have also preconfigured complex apps such as the Zotero research tool to make sure they work straight out of the box.
There’s a range of online apps, too.
For example, the Books menu points to the FBReaderebook reader along with various resources where you can find ebooks, such as Open Library. Similarly, the Personal Finances category points to the online Mint Personal Financial Managerapp and helps you keep costs in check by pointing to websites that let you buy used books, and rent new ones.
The distro includes a raft of general purpose apps too, including multimedia playback and authoring tools, file transfer utilities such as Dropboxand even the Steamclient. If that’s not enough, you can fetch even more using the customised link to the app installer within almost every app menu.
These apps are fetched from the distro’s own custom repositories, which in addition to the upstream Ubuntu repositories also include the official Dropbox, Google, Oracle and Videolan repositories. The distro uses its own update manager and software sources apps, which are based on Mint’s version instead of Ubuntu’s. Synaptic and the Ubuntu Software Center are provided for package management. The distro’s Firefoxand Chromiumbrowsers are equipped with Java and Flash plugins, and you can install additional codecs via the link in the welcome screen.
Designed for everyone All this is part of the distro’s initiative to accommodate new users. It also has a system fixer script that runs in the background during boot and addresses common issues based on the support requests it receives.
The custom Xfce desktop is designed with the traditional desktop metaphor in mind and includes custom actions for the Thunarfile manager.
You can preview multimedia files before opening them usingGloobus Preview, and move them to preset locations, such as the Dropboxfolder, with a click.
The distro also uses a wallpaper with an embedded Conkyscript to keep tabs on system resources. For eye candy, instead of using Xfce’s native compositing, the distro uses the lightweight Comptoncompositor.
It’s been a while since we’ve come across a distro that doesn’t baulk under our testing. Creating a nicely integrated and coherent kitchen-sink distro is a task in itself. UberStudent does one better, sanding the rough edges off the Linux desktop and making it look more presentable. The distro is clearly designed for students and educators, but its appeal goes much further.
The distro includes the usual slew of apps for general purpose computing, along with several proprietary ones.
UberStudent 4.0 is a well-rounded Xfcebased Ubuntu derivative that can give the popular desktop distros some decent competition.