As 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 and boot off from that media. Remember that you can run/try Ubuntu without having to install it on your hard drive.
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.
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.
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.
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, as users had been increasingly displeased with the use of Banshee as the default music player. The UbuntuOne 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, including the latest features and bug fixes.
There are a few more changes worth mentioning. There are now some basic settings for Unity in “Appearance” under System Settings, so you won’t need to install the CompizConfig Settings Manager. 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.
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.
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