Starting with Karmic, Ubuntu now has its own slideshow for users to view while waiting for the installation to finish.  Besides representing one more thing Ubuntu has in common with Windows XP, the slides have some real value to new users.  Below, we take a look.

First, here's a run down of the slides, which are pretty self-explanatory:

Slide 1

Slide 1

Slide 1

Slide 1

Slide 1

Slide 6

Slide 7

Slide 7

Slide 7

(The slideshow has apparently not yet gotten the memo that the Software Store was rechristened "Software Center" recently.  But this will presumably be fixed before Karmic's final release.)

Slide 7

These slides perform some very useful tasks for people new to Ubuntu.  Among the things I like most are:
  1. They cater to normal people, not geeks.  No advanced computer knowledge is assumed, and the slides focus on practical applications that normal people will use--there's no terminal to scare neophytes away, which is a good thing.
  2. The slides answer a lot of the questions that normal people tend to have before trying Ubuntu, such as "Can I open Word documents?" and "Does Ubuntu support my iPod/digital camera/favorite chat protocol?"
  3. Ubuntu is presented as a coherent operating system with a full and clearly defined set of productivity applications ready to go out-of-the-box.  There are no distracting notes mentioning that there are three dozen alternatives to Rhythmbox or that Pidgin can replace Empathy if users don't like the latter.  A reluctance to privilege certain applications over others is a chronic problem in the free-software community, and this slideshow avoids it.
Of course, the impact and importance of these slides might be dampened by the fact that they're shown after the user has already decided to install Ubuntu, but they still don't hurt.  And the slide show could be made available for viewing from a normal installation, as a sort of introduction to Ubuntu, for the benefit of individuals who don't install Ubuntu themselves.  It could also serve as a quick presentation of what Ubuntu can do when trying to evangelize new users.

Most geeks installing Karmic next month will probably not be bothered to pay much attention to the slides.  Nonetheless, the presentation represents a solid step in the direction of usability and user-friendliness on the part of Ubuntu.