One of the long-standing problems with Linux is that even the varieties that aim for accessibility often look like something ordinary people won’t want to use. This has been true of even the most populist free flavor—and certainly the one with the highest name recognition—Ubuntu, which “out of the box” had the appearance of afterthought even though its innards and interface were smartly conceived and constructed. But with Ubuntu’s newest long-term support (LTS) release, 10.04 (nicknamed “Lucid Lynx”), developer Canonical seems to be changing forever—and for the better. Gone are the muddy look and questionable color scheme that have defined Ubuntu’s default look for a long time. In their place is a Gnome KDE desktop that’s both smooth and striking, but more importantly inviting—its violet hues and far gentler undertones and highlights give the warm, comfortable feel any potentially off-putting software demands. No one will ever be able to claim with a straight face that it’s as pretty or as polished as what you get with windows or Mac OS X. But for the first time Ubuntu looks as though it really deserves to compete with those big boys.