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ubuntu improvementsAs we get closer to April, the new season of new Linux distribution releases is quickly approaching and distributions are cranking out alphas and betas of their upcoming release.

Ubuntu is no different, and has just recently announced their Beta 1 of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, set to be fully released on April 26th. With this new release, there are some pretty interesting changes coming up in all kinds of different corners. Since there’s a lot of cover, let’s get started.

Download and Installation

To get this beta of Ubuntu 12.04, you’ll need to head over to this page and download the “Intel x86” (32-bit) or “AMD64” (64-bit) desktop ISOs. Then burn them to a CD or write them to a USB Live USB Install Puts Linux On Your Thumb Drive With Ease Live USB Install Puts Linux On Your Thumb Drive With Ease Boot one of over a hundred Linux distros from a USB disk. With Live USB, software you can run on both Windows and Linux computers, it only takes a couple of clicks to make your... Read More and boot off from that media. Remember that you can run/try Ubuntu without having to install it on your hard drive.

LTS Support

ubuntu improvements
Ubuntu is changing the way they support LTS releases, also known as long term support releases.  LTS releases always appear every two years; the last one was 10.04 and 12.04 will be the next one. 14.04 will replace 12.04 as the newest LTS releases in April 2014, and so on. However, in the past LTS releases have had 3 years of support on desktops and 5 years of support on servers. This is being changed to 5 years of support for all systems to make management (especially in enterprise environments) a lot easier.

Core Updates

A lot of backbone components are also upgraded in 12.04 as they are in every release. This time, Ubuntu is using the 3.2 kernel series rather than the 3.0 series for Ubuntu 11.10, although it may be possible that Ubuntu will go to the future 3.3 series before the release date.

Additionally, the GNOME components of the desktop are mostly upgraded to 3.3, which will most likely turn into 3.4 when it becomes stable. Along with the new kernel comes a fix for computers with Intel Sandy Bridge processors where the GPU component of those chips can successfully be powered down when they’re not in high use to achieve higher energy efficiency Take Control Of Your Power Usage With Gnome Power Statistics [Linux] Take Control Of Your Power Usage With Gnome Power Statistics [Linux] For all of you who are conscious about your power usage, you probably tend to check over your power settings often to make sure that you're being as energy-efficient as possible. This is even more... Read More .

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Enhanced ClickPad Support

Ubuntu offers much better support with what it calls ClickPads, which are basically the trackpads that Macbooks have and anything similar on PCs where “the physical button is integrated into the trackpad surface.” For example, Ubuntu now lets you use a second finger to drag the cursor after the button is pressed, as well as right click by pressing the button with two fingers.

Visible Changes

ubuntu 12.04 improvements
There have also been a lot of visible changes in Ubuntu 12.04, with probably a few more to come before the final release. The biggest new feature that is being talked about in the Linux community is Ubuntu’s introduction of HUD, or Heads Up Display. They are meant to eventually replace menus (although menus are still included in the beta; I’m not sure if they’ll still be there at release time) and can be called by hitting the Alt key. It’s hard to say more about HUD, so hopefully the screenshot above can do all the talking for me.

The default music player has now been set back to Rhythmbox 6 Linux Music Players To Replace Songbird 6 Linux Music Players To Replace Songbird Read More , as users had been increasingly displeased with the use of Banshee Banshee 2.0 – A Comprehensive Media Player, Streamer & Podcast Tool [Linux] Banshee 2.0 – A Comprehensive Media Player, Streamer & Podcast Tool [Linux] The Banshee media player was first released in early 2005 and has since come on leaps and bounds. Probably the closest thing Linux has to iTunes, Banshee comes with an integrated music store, Internet radio,... Read More as the default music player. The UbuntuOne 4 Windows Applications That Originated On Linux 4 Windows Applications That Originated On Linux We all know that, as the most widely used operating system, Windows has the largest collection of software. But not every successful piece of software started out in the Windows world. In fact there are... Read More music store plugin is also included by default in Rhythmbox, as it was with Banshee. Additionally, as a notable change, LibreOffice has been updated to version 3.5 LibreOffice 3.5 Released, Offers New Grammar Checking Tool [News] LibreOffice 3.5 Released, Offers New Grammar Checking Tool [News] Read More , including the latest features and bug fixes.

ubuntu improvements
There are a few more changes worth mentioning. There are now some basic settings for Unity Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux It's here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Canonical decided... Read More in “Appearance” under System Settings, so you won’t need to install the CompizConfig Settings Manager How To Change The Settings Of Ubuntu Unity With CompizConfig Settings Manager How To Change The Settings Of Ubuntu Unity With CompizConfig Settings Manager Ubuntu's latest release, version 11.04, brings with it a completely new desktop interface called Unity. Its release has received mixed reviews, though honestly it comes down to taste. There is never a piece of software... Read More . Speaking of System Settings, there is now a whole new category called Privacy that is worth checking it. It’s pretty much a central location for privacy settings across all default GNOME applications.

The Ubuntu Software Center also seems to have gotten a little speed boost, loading all of its functions faster than in the last release. The Ubuntu Software Center also installs all needed language packs automatically so that you won’t need to visit Language Support to install any missing language packs.

Conclusion

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is looking to be a fine release as it’s faster, more stable, and better looking than other recent releases. Personally, I’d be completely happy running this until the next LTS release appears. It’s also great to see Ubuntu being innovative with the desktop, although I have to admit that any change they make will make some people happy while angering others. I’m also happy to see Unity and the dash getting more love so that it’s easier to use and more responsive, but more than likely I’ll ditch it again for Gnome Shell 3 Reasons Why Gnome Shell Is Better Than Ubuntu's Unity [Opinion] 3 Reasons Why Gnome Shell Is Better Than Ubuntu's Unity [Opinion] There's absolutely no denying the fact that there has been a lot of bickering between people about which desktop environment is the best. The discussion has been expanded and refocused, from not just Gnome vs.... Read More .

What’s your opinion of Ubuntu 12.04? Do you like the HUD idea? Do you have any hopes for the future of Ubuntu and Linux in general? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Ubuntu/Canonical

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