Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ubuntu 11.04 released

Ubuntu 11.04 is finally available for download. This release is a major change for Ubuntu thanks to the inclusion of Unity as the default desktop shell. Instead of separate editions for Netbook and Desktop editions of Ubuntu, there's now just Ubuntu.
Ubuntu Classic Desktop
Ubuntu detects if your hardware can support Unity and defaults to using Unity if it does. For hardware known to not support the features Unity needs, Ubuntu will use the familiar GNOME 2.x desktop (now called "Classic Desktop"). As always, users that prefer the older desktop can opt to use it instead.

Overlay scrollbars comes part and parcel with Ubuntu, so users will get a tad bit more horizontal screen real estate, but it's a new addition to Ubuntu which means not all software uses it yet. Firefox 4 still uses the traditional scrollbars, for example.

New network and datetime indicators have replaced their respective applets in the system tray. If you're running Unity, the old system tray area is no longer there. It's now completely composed of indicator menus. The new indicators are the same as their predecessors feature-wise (as far as I can tell) although things may not be as configurable as they used to be in 11.04. Since it's still very new, I'm sure a lot of software have yet to support Ubuntu's indicator menus so you might run into some trouble with certain apps.

Experimental support for btrfs is available in Natty. It's still too early to use as the default filesystem, but Ubiquity allows installation onto a btrfs / partition without needing a separate /boot partition. If things work out well, I'm guessing Ubuntu may use btrfs as the default filesystem in another release or three.

There's more:
  • OpenOffice.org is replaced by LibreOffice
  • Banshee replaces RhythmBox
  • Menu bars show up in the top panel (the global menu bar), so users might get a bit disoriented at times when trying to access menu options.
  • Kernel 2.6.38 is being used, but it's got some power management issues so mobile users might want to take that into consideration before upgrading.
The release notes has more details. Remember to check the list of known issues in case there's anything related to your particular setup that you need to be aware of before upgrading.