A few hours ago, Ubuntu 12.04, the sixteenth edition of the world’s most popular free and open source operating system was released. This edition of the operating systems is an LTS version and hence will be supported for the next five years.The latest iteration of the operating system contains several improvements over its predecessors and a lot of new features as well.
So what’s new in this release?
1. HUD (Head Up Display)
The Head Up Display, a big controversial inclusion for a LTS release has turned out to be a talking point. The usability of this application is that it integrates application menus into the desktop UI. With any application open, one can hit the Alt key to bring up the HUD. When the HUD is open, one can search application menus based on keywords.
2. Unity ( 5.10)
A greatly improved Unity interface can be seen in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. The buggy dodge feature of the Unity launcher has been removed. Although this exclusion has been met with much criticism, it is always better to include only stable applications in LTS releases. The unity launcher icons are now easily customised with the help of the option available in the Appearance settings.
The Unity Dash’s default home screen has changed. Now, the Dash has a new Recent Apps lens which shows the most recently used applications, then Recent Files next, and finally, Recent Downloads. There is also a new video lens addition which can search videos from the Videos folder as well as Youtube and BBC iplayer.
Rhythmbox was added back because of two reasons. One, to make Ubuntu mono free and two, stability issues cropped up in Banshee due to GTK3. Also, it was to ensure Ubuntu 10.04 LTS users have a smoother transition into Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.
Qucklists are menus avaialble on Unity launcher when you right click on any application icon. The new Quicklists for Unity are the Dash Quicklist and the Home Folder Quicklist. The Dash Quicklist includes Dash Home, Applications, Files and Folders, Music, and Videos. The Home Folder Quicklist includes Documents, Downloads, Music, Video, Open In New Window, Home Folder, and Unlock From Launcher.
5. Proper Multimonitor support
In Ubuntu 12.04, proper multi-monitor support has been introduced for both Unity and LightDM. A launcher with screen edge detection is now displayed on every monitor, so users don’t have to travel to another display to launch or switch applications. Users can change this though and only use a launcher via “Displays”, under System Settings:
6. New Privacy tool
The new version of Unity records all your recent history. To revoke any permission to record history, there is the new privacy tool . With this tool users can define what Unity should record and what it shouldn’t.
7. Ubuntu One control panel.
The GTK version of Ubuntu One control panel was not conforming to the standards and so it has been replaced by a QT version. There is no change in functionality though.
8. Power Settings
The power settings now sport a coloured indicator to inform about how may hours of battery life is left on a laptop or how much time until charged.
9. Sound Menu
The sound settings menu has a few changes as well. The output volume is now at the bottom of the window and is free from tab switches. Input and output tabs have a redesigned look. The hardware selection has been moved to the left and the settings for volume has been moved to the right. There are a few changes to the wordings as well e.g Connector has been renamed Mode, Choose a device for sound output has been renamed Play Sound through. These changes, to me, are good as it clearly states what the setting will do. See the below screenshots for the changes.
10. The systems settings now sport bigger icons, included new options for privacy settings and has removed software sources settings.
11. Notify OSD notifications use the same blur and colour as Dash.
12. Shortcut hints for Unity (keyboard only) has been added. This can be found if the user presses and holds down the Super (Windows) key.
There are new changes to LightDM. LightDM now reads the user background so when selecting an user from the LightDM login screen, the background changes to that of the user’s background.
LightDM login screen now uses a new session chooser dialog which displays the logo for each desktop environment available and displays animation when navigating through its menu.
14. Default Wallpaper
15. Ubuntu Installer changes
15. Unity 2D
Unity 2D has been improved a lot to make it more similar in look and feel to Unity 3D. New additions to Unity 2D are:
- a new home lens
- video lens
However, launcher icons are not resizeable by default.
|Unity 2D video lens|
|HUD in Unity 2D|
To experience Ubuntu 12.04 LTS first hand, download it from here.