Although the GNU-Linux system has been around for decades, the Ubuntu distribution of Linux has been getting increasingly popular these days, and for good reason. While Linux has a notorious reputation of inaccessibility for the layman computer user, Ubuntu has sought to change that in order to bring the projects wealth of refined freeware to the masses. Sporting one of the most attractive user interfaces for any operating system, free or not, Ubuntu has truly begun to achieve its noble intention in making a free OS that anyone can use.

With its latest update, dubbed “Quantal Quetzal,” Ubuntu has done something rather unique in the world of PC operating systems by taking a few notes from the smartphone market in allowing users to add web apps to their dash. After visiting a site for the first time, you’re given the option to integrate it with your desktop for easy control without use of your browser. For instance, the Gmail webapp will automatically notify you of new mail and give you control over gchat, online music players like Pandora will appear in the sound menu when installed, allowing you to switch tracks directly to your desktop, and news sites will be added as a desktop feed that automatically updates. While other operating systems have utilized widgets in the past, the ability to add these webapps with just one click is a startlingly easy-to-use feature that should please users with even the most limited tech knowledge.

Another impressive new feature found only in Quantal Quetzal is the online search feature. While the file search on other operating systems will just scan your hard-drive, Ubuntu now allows you to search the contents of any online account as well. After saving your login details, the online search will be able to view the contents of your Google Drive, Flickr account and more. From there, the new Dash preview option allows to view the contents of a webpage without having to open a new window in your browser. If you’re searching for music, the Dash preview will even allow you to stream sample portions of an album’s tracks straight from your dash, thus streamlining any search significantly.

Lastly, one of the most novel additions to this iteration of Ubuntu is the ability to share any document on your computer with one click when using Ubuntu’s new cloud storage service, Ubuntu One. When in a document folder, you’ll find a “share link” button directly next to the “open” button on any file. While definitely a small touch, it’s definitely a smart addition that acts as an embodiment of Ubuntu’s philosophy of heightened usability when compared to previous Linux packages.

While these features likely aren’t enough to sway hardened users of MacOS or Windows, they do represent that Ubuntu has become extremely user-friendly, possibly even more so than its rivals. This latest update shows that the traditional perception of Linux being only for the technorati is coming to an end, and that the days of Apple and Microsoft dominating the operating system market may finally be giving way to freeware which is just as good as anything you have to pay for. So if you’ve been wary about using Linux in the past, give this new version of Ubuntu a shot with the interactive tour and see just how easy to use it really is.