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Today we are taking a look at Ubuntu 4.10, the very first release of Ubuntu which came out on October 20th, 2004, some twelve and a half years ago!
The text installer is straight-forward and is the Debian heritage. It’s reminiscent of the text-based Debian installer of today. We configure language, partitioning, and the base system is installing. Upon reboot, we enter our hostname, create the user account and configure basic graphics options. Another reboot and we are in!
We are presented with the glorious GNOME 2.8 desktop and classic Ubuntu-brown colors, running on top of Linux kernel 220.127.116.11. I try updating the package lists, but something tells it is not going to work unless I change the mirrors. All network mirrors were commented out and I had to change archive.ubuntu.com to old-release.ubuntu.com to make it work. We update the 166 packages and continue on.
Let’s look through the available applications. A surprisingly healthy selection of games, many of which we regularly see in modern distros. GIMP 2.0 for all your image editing needs looks surprisingly similar to recent releases. Evolution mail is there, and is also the mail client of choice for GNOME desktops today. For web browsing we have Firefox, version 1.0.8. Not surprisingly, it does not approve of many SSL certificates, and modern pages cannot be displayed properly. Many other applications that we are using today are available as well, such as the X-Chat IRC client, Rhythmbox music player, Totem video player. For the Office suite we have OpenOffice version 1.1.2. Remember that this was 6 years before LibreOffice came to be. It was also years before Canonical’s recognizable style developed, and the 4.10 release featured a mildly customized GNOME 2.8 and a choice of other themes.
I was pleasantly surprised at the application selection, and mildly disappointed to see that GIMP’s interface did not change a whole lot in more than a decade. Ubuntu 4.10 uses a whopping 200 megabytes of RAM and 1.8 gigabytes of disk space, and is very much usable and competent even by today’s standards. During later years, GNOME 2 was forked into Mate and modern Ubuntu Mate releases are the logical continuation of the old Ubuntu desktop philosophy.