The beta version of the next Ubuntu release – 12.10 Quantal Quetzal – is now available for testing. There are several new and interesting features added and whether you like it or not, the Unity desktop is here to stay and it is getting better with each release. Let check it out.
The first thing you will notice while downloading the LIveCD is that the file size of the ISO file no longer fits into a normal CD. The actual file size is about 750MB, which exceeds the usual 700MB limitation of a CD. In the past, the Canonical team had to remove and compact plenty of packages to keep the file size under 700MB. With plenty of improvement added to this release and with the growth of file size for each app, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep everything under 700MB. The decision is that from this release onward, the CD filesize limitation will be scraped (who still use CD nowaday?). This doesn’t affect the USB bootup disk, and in fact, it is the recommended way to create a LiveCD. If you really need it in a CD format, you can still use a DVD instead of a CD, though I think it will also get obselete very very soon.
LVM and Full Disk Encryption
When you run the Quantal installer, one thing you will notice is the addition of the new LVM feature when creating your partition.
If you are not aware, LVM is a a manager for managing large hard disk farms and allows you to add disks, replace disks, copy and share contents from one disk to another without disrupting service (hot swapping). On a PC, it also allows you to resize your disk partitions easily as needed.
Other than the LVM support, Ubuntu Quantal now comes with a full disk encryption support. Previously, you only have option to encrypt your Home folder. With this release, you have the option to encrypt the whole hard disk, incuding the System and boot folder.
New Login Screen
Once you have installed and booted it up, you will see a new login screen.
This is also the same wallpaper you see after you have logged in.
No More Unity 2D
One thing you will notice missing from the Login screen is the Unity 2D session. From Ubuntu Quantal onward, there will only be one version of Unity. On a capable machine, the Unity 3D session will be hardware accelerated by the graphics card while those computers that are lacking the graphics power will be powered by the OpenGL rasterizer LLVMpipe. With this unified Unity, on a high-end computer, you should see an increase in performance, while on a low-end computer, I believe the performance will take a hit. I run this on a Virtualbox, allocated 3GB of RAM and the performance is sluggish. My advise for low-end computer: keep off Unity, use a less resource-intensive desktop manager like OpenBox or Gnome classic instead.
Preview in Dash
This is considered one of the greatest improvement in Ubuntu Quantal. From the Dash, you can now right click on any file and application to preview it. You can also press the left/right key to scroll through the preview .
New Dash Search Plugin Option in Ubuntu Software Center
The latest inclusion to the Ubuntu Software Center is the Dash Search Plugins where you can find plenty of lens to install for the Unity Dash. This is pretty useful as you don’t have to hunt down the respective PPAs to install your favorite lenses.
Integrate with more web services in Online Accounts
The Online Accounts app has been revamped and many more services such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Flickr, Microsoft Live are now available. Previously, you can only add Google and Microsoft Live.
Other Minor Changes
1. Update Manager has been renamed Software Updater and now checks for updates when launched.
2. Libreoffice was updated to 3.6.1 with built-in menubar & HUD support without needing a separate plugin.
3. The Nautilus File Manager used in Ubuntu Quantal is 3.4.2 (the same version as Ubuntu Precise) instead of the newer 3.5
Things that will be in Ubuntu Quantal but not yet implemented in beta
Some of the features that will be in the final release of Ubuntu Quantal, but not yet implemented in the beta release include:
1. Web app integration: This allows you to integrate your favorite website, such as Gmail, Facebook, Groovesharks etc, into the system tray. More details here.
That’s all for now. You can download Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal beta here.
Image credit: Wikipedia