Ubuntu is set to release their next Long Term Support version at the end of April, and we now have a beta version to look at and see what we can expect. There are some pretty big changes coming in Lucid Lynx, many of which are partly or fully implemented in the current beta. There are the surprising changes, the controversial changes, and the just plain cool. Though the full release is still a month away, Ubuntu 10.04 is clearly shaping up to be an impressive release.
The most obvious change to many is the completely redesigned color scheme. The standard brown has been replaced with a purple, grey, and orange theme called Ambiance.
This also applies to things like the standard desktop icons.
Yahoo Becomes New Default Firefox Search
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, reached an agreement with Yahoo! to set the default search provider in Ubuntu’s version of Firefox to their search engine. This doesn’t prevent you from making the two clicks necessary to set it to whatever you like, so those who don’t like Yahoo! have a quick, simple fix.
Title Buttons Moved to the Left
Along with the new theme, the shift in Min/Max/Close buttons from the right corner to the left has caused quite a bit of grumbling from users. While Ubuntu does not currently (as of Beta 1) provide a simple way to reverse this, it can be done from the command line with:
gconftool-2 --set "/apps/metacity/general/button_layout" --type string "menu:maximize,minimize,close"
New Open Source Nvidia Driver
It seems that Ubuntu decided the Nouveau driver was ready for prime time, and has now set it as Lucid’s default driver for Nvidia cards. If Nouveau doesn’t work out for you, you can still install the normal proprietary drivers easily.
New Social Networking Integration
Lucid now sports the MeMenu. This is intended to be somewhat of a one-stop messaging solution for various chat and social web services. In one panel applet, you’ve got Facebook Chat, Google Talk, Jabber, AIM, IRC, ICQ, and several more. Incoming messages are displayed using the notification system introduced in recent Ubuntu versions.
HAL, the hardware abstraction layer, is not included in Lucid, in favor of DeviceKit. While many of the benefits of DeviceKit are for developers, users will notice a faster boot and faster resume from suspend mode.
The Ubuntu One cloud service has been creeping its way into the past few releases, and Lucid will have it fully integrated. Ubuntu allows you up to 2GB of free storage online, and that service can be used to share files between friends or others. This can be very useful if you find yourself installing Lucid over a previous release – you can sync the files in your /home into the cloud, and after reinstall just activate Ubuntu One and it’ll re-download your files for you.
Ubuntu One Music Store
While not technically a feature of 10.04 itself, the opening of Ubuntu One Music Store will coincide with Lucid’s release, and support for it is already built in. The simplest way to access it is by opening up Rhythmbox, the default audio player. In the panel on the left, you should see Ubuntu One. Clicking that will let you browse the available music.
There’s likely to be at least one more beta before release, and with the current state of Lucid Lynx, it looks like it will be worth the wait. This version is full of new features, performance improvements, and innovative changes. Be sure to check back here near release day for our free Ubuntu 10.04 Handbook PDF.
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