Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 2 is now available for download and testing
The release is the second and final beta in the Ubuntu 15.04 development cycle and will be followed by a Release Candidate build on April 16, ahead of the final release on April 23.
Beta 2 is of particular interest as it is the first milestone release that the regular Unity-using version of Ubuntu takes part in.
What’s New in Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 2
Now, before anyone gets too giddy about seeing what’s new, remember that Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) is a ‘maintenance release’ and will be largely similar to the 14.04 LTS and 14.10 releases made last
Bug fixes, polish and small usability improvements are the Vivid Vervet’s calling card. Even the most significant change to take place in Ubuntu for a few years, the move to SystemD as the distribution’s init system, is largely imperceptible.
Ubuntu’s default desktop shell Unity receives a fresh round of refinements this release cycle.
Locally Integrated Menus (LIM) are enabled by default in Ubuntu 15.04, embedding app menus inside the window border rather than placing them at the top of the screen — though it’s only with this beta that locally integrated menus show up on unfocused windows.
A small change as it may be it is, as we noted when the ‘Always Show Menus’ option arrived in January, one that addresses the concerns some users had over the disappearing mouseover menus discoverability for newcomers.
If you don’t like locally integrated menus you don’t have to use them. A switch in the System settings > Appearance > Behaviour allows menus to go back to the old behaviour, so anyone who prefer their menus tucked neatly at the top of the desktop can quickly revert to their preferred way of working.
The Dash, HUD and logout/shutdown dialog now show up correctly over fullscreen windows, and minor adjustments to the animations on login and logout should make for a faster startup and shutdown experience.
The well-worn Compiz window manager gains a much-needed fix from nVidia that solves issues of blank or black windows for users with the Nvidia proprietary driver enabled.
Compiz now supports the MATE desktop fully, complemented by a refresh of the gtk-window-decorator for Gnome2 support.
Beta testers will also find updated versions of Ubuntu’s core default app set, including the Firefox web-browser, Thunderbird e-mail client and Rhythmbox music player.
Download Ubuntu 15.04 Beta
To download Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 2 (and bearing in mind all the usual caveats that come from running beta-quality software) head over to the official downloads page.
Ubuntu 15.04 Beta 2 — Flavors
Shipping their own beta wares alongside Ubuntu proper is the family of official flavors, including the newly appointed Ubuntu MATE.
The change logs for a few of these, Lubuntu and Xubuntu in particular, are fairly minimal with only a few package updates, misc improvements and bug fixes between them.
Other members are packing more substantive changes this cycle.
Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Beta 2 balms the teething issues that blighted its inaugural beta, with a few minor changes introduced as a result.
The latest versions of Folder Color and Caja (the MATE file manager) actions are both now installed by default and there’s a new lock keys applet for keyboard aficionados to get acquainted with. The MATE Menu applet is also now available as is improved support for those wanting to use Compiz desktop effects.
On the application side the Cheese webcam app has been replaced with the lighter and less fancy guvcview, but an app still great for snapping a quick desktop selfie and the new drop-down Terminal app Tilda.
Kubuntu 15.04 Beta 2 continues to impress visually with the new Plasma 5.2 desktop enabled by default, while the suite of KDE Applications 14.12.2 offers a solid and reliable set of core apps. LibreOffice 4.4 and Firefox 36 also come preloaded.
Ubuntu GNOME 15.04 Beta 2 ships with last October’s GNOME 3.14 desktop shell and associated apps out of the box. While not as shiny as this weeks GNOME 3.16 release (schedules are to blame) it offers a broader set of improvements over the mix of GNOME 3.10 and 3.12 used for its 14.10 release.
As with other community flavors, Ubuntu GNOME 15.04 also comes with the latest versions of popular apps and features a new default wallpaper.
Remember: beta releases are intended for testing and feedback purposes rather than daily use. They are not production-ready. You may encounter bugs, find missing or broken functionality and experience quirks will using them.
You can keep yourself and the rest of the world up to speed on Ubuntu’s release plans by sharing our handy graphic on Twitter.
— OMG! UBUNTU! (@omgubuntu) February 22, 2015