The first beta build of Ubuntu 12.10 has been made available for download.
In the 42 days since the last Alpha release a bucket full of change has been chucked over the Quetzal, including new Unity features, theme tweaks and the retirement of Unity 2D.
For a concise overview of what’s new check out our video recap below, or read about the changes in detail by scrolling on down…
A Unified Unity At Last
I’ll kick off this rundown by getting biggest change present in this Beta out of the way first: Unity 2D has been removed. It’s no more; gone; finito.
From this beta onwards everyone gets to use the same version of Unity. If your device lacks graphical prowess then Unity will be powered by your CPU, otherwise your GPU – your graphics card – will be doing all the hardwork.
If this change is news to you then you might thing it sounds drastic – and I guess it does. But it’s actually good news for Ubuntu users.
Developers can now focus their efforts on just one version of Unity, rather than the two. One Unity with one code-base will likely speed up the rate of innovation and development of Unity.
But this move wasn’t just to make developers lives a little easier. The biggest change will be to us users. One Unity means we all get the same features and the same experience – no compromises.
If you’re a regular reader of OMG! Ubuntu! then chances are you already know a lot about Unity Previews.
As the name suggests, Previews allow you to learn more about a file, folder or app from within the Unity Dash. No need to open a Dash result directly – just right-click on it to get more information.
Different previews available for different file-types, each giving different information.
For example, the music preview displays giant art-work and an interactive tracklist with play/pause controls:
Ubuntu Online Accounts
The introduction and integration of Online Accounts is one of my favourite features in this beta.
The idea behind it simple: you log-in/add your online accounts in one place and then other apps, such as email clients, IM clients, Photo uploaders, Lenses, etc, pull in your data from there.
For example, if you link your Facebook account with Online Accounts then Empathy will be able to access Facebook chat; Shotwell will be able to upload photos to your account; and Gwibber will automatically pull in your Facebook stream.
Sound excessive? You have control over what apps access what accounts.
Unity wouldn’t be Unity without lenses, and Ubuntu 12.10 beta sees a new one added by default.
The ‘Photo Lens‘ allows you to search through your images by name, tag or EXIF data, filter them, as well as ‘preview’ then using Unity Previews (see above).
The Lens also integrates with Online Accounts thus letting your search for, filter and preview images from Flickr, Facebook and Google’s Picasa service.
As you’d expect, Ubuntu 12.10 ships with the latest versions of many popular apps, including:
- Firefox 15
- LibreOffice 3.6.1
- Thunderbird 15
- Rhythmbox 2.96
Ubuntu One Control Panel
Do you use Ubuntu’s cloud storage service Ubuntu One much? If so you will appreciate two new features added to the desktop app.
- Sharing links/options
- File search
The beta may not come with the new “origami-inspired” theme Ubuntu’s founder Mark Shuttleworth alluded to earlier this year, but Ubuntu’s default theme is still looking pretty nice thanks to some minor tweaks and changes.
Also benefitting from a digital dust-down is the Unity Greeter (aka Login Screen), which sports subtle changes to alignment and spacing:
As well as a new ‘session’ selector’ menu:
In advance of Remote Connection Login sessions being added to the Greeter you can now join and manage network connections directly from the login screen.
Things Still to Come
Whew! Looking at the list above you’d think that Ubuntu 12.10 couldn’t possibly get any better. But it just might as there are a handful of additional features targeted for inclusion in 12.10.
- A new ‘Sync’ indicator for Ubuntu One, Dropbox and others
- Web App integration
- Remote Session Login from the Unity Greeter
Download Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1
As with anything of a development nature I don’t recommend installing Beta 1 as your sole operating system on your primary computer.
Curiosity is to be expected, but so be cautious and play it safe by using a LiveDVD, spinning the beta up in a Virtual Machine, or booting off of a live USB.
You’ll find all the links you need – .iso, .zsync and .torrent – at the link behind the button below. Where possible you are encouraged to use the .torrent files.