Whats new Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 2?

The new Ubuntu 11.04 which is due out on 30th April, 2011, will have quite a few cosmetic changes along with changes under the hood. Regular readers and Linux enthusiasts know by now that Mark Shutteworth has opted to go for Unity instead of Gnome Shell, although they somehow are looking similar as development progresses, they are built on different ideas.

This decision to drop Gnome Shell from a mainstream Linux distribution is one of the most defining and bold moments in the history of Linux desktop’s development and evolution.

As the Unity powered Ubuntu 11.04 takes shape, lets take a look at what changes may be in the offing!


1. Unity: Ofcourse! Unity is the most important change in Ubuntu Natty. As development progresses, Unity is becoming  smoother and easier to use. It is also getting new features every day.

2. Firefox beta 4 : Ubuntu 11.04 will have the latest Firefox 4 by the looks of the latest build that is available for download. The current version is a beta 10. Previously it was thought that Firefox 3 would be default.

3. Libre office: The first stable version of Libre Office was released a few days back and Ubuntu developers have been quick to implement that in the latest build. For those who don’t know, Libre Office is a spin-off of the popular Open Office, started by likes of Google, Red Hat, Canonical and others to get away from not very open-source friendly Oracle!

4. Banshee: Written in Mono, the open source implementation of .NET, this music cum video player, has become very popular with Linux users and hence the addition in this version of Ubuntu. The application seems to be very stable and has a good number of feature plugins.

5. Ubuntu One: A new interface has been drawn up for logging into Ubuntu One. This login looks much better than the previous one.

6. Global Menu: A Mac OS like implementation, global menu, has been made default in this version of the OS. Now, the panel will house the Menu bar. However, this implementation is incomplete as the two major applications, namely Firefox and Libre Office do not support Global Menus yet.

7. Indicator Applets: As promised by Mark Shuttleworth’s team, all tray icons are being ported to indicator applets. Latest being the network manager. Now, all the options are available on a single left click on the applet. This is very good as it reduces confusion and makes it easier to find options.
The time and date applet, however, is still incomplete as it does not provide any option to display weather information for the selected city, nor does it display multiple time zones.

Apart from the above listed changes, there are a lot more minor additions and under the hood Ubuntu packs the 2.6.38 kernel which is believed to be faster and has better driver support than previous versions. More detailed review will follow once Natty Narwhal attains the beta tag!! Till then keep testing!

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