The latest release of Ubuntu is only 4 days away! This new release of Ubuntu contains lots of new features and changes in response to user feedback as well as bug fixes. A selection of changes are below:
1. A smaller DVD image: The installer image has been slimmed down to a lean size of 1.5 GB in response to feedback over the past few developer cycles. The language packs as well as LibreOffice, The GIMP, PiTiVi and Inkskape are still included in the new image. Any packages omitted from the new image are still available to install from the archives. The CD based image installer is still available too.
2. Ubuntu Core: As the name suggests, these images only contain an extremely basic Ubuntu install – only the base system software is included. This is designed as a basis for customized distributions and for users who only want the software installed that they use.
3. Improved 32-bit compatibility: The new Ubuntu now includes “multiarch” support. This means that people using the AMD64 distributions of Ubuntu can install x86 software with no further compatibility software required. This is an extremely welcome improvement as installing x86 software on AMD64 machines in the past required you to install the “ia32-libs” package to use 32-bit software.
4. GUI Updates: Oneiric Ocelot will be shipped with updated versions of both Unity and Compiz. As a result of this, Ubuntu 11.10 contains an updated Alt-Tab switcher and better launcher and panel performance.
5. New Application Defaults: Evolution has been replaced with Mozilla Thunderbird for email, Déjà Dup has been included for automatic backups and Gwibber has been included for microblogging. GNOME has been updated to the current unstable version (3.1.5, a prerelease version of GNOME 3.2). The Ubuntu Software centre has also been updated, now allowing you to search through top rated software through a dedicated view and also, standalone .deb package installation has been reported to have sped up considerably.
6. Lubuntu: There is a new Ubuntu distribution joining the Ubuntu family with 11.10. This joins Ubuntu itself, Kubuntu (Ubuntu with the KDE environment rather than GNOME), Xubuntu (XFCE instead of GNOME), Edubuntu (designed for educational use), Mythbuntu (Designed for use on a HTPC) and Ubuntu Studio (Designed for audio, video and graphic professionals and designers). Lubuntu is an Ubuntu variant designed with the LXDE desktop, replacing GNOME.
I think many of these changes along with usability updates and bug fixes really help to make Ubuntu a viable alternative to Windows or OS X for many users out there. I look forward to testing the final release.