Canonical yesterday released the final version of Ubuntu Linux 11.04
. For quite some time Ubuntu will get a new release twice per year - one in April and one in October. As usual with updated distributions, the release comes with updated software. In this case however, the software responsible for the appearance of the desktop was changed. While previous Ubuntu releases relied on Gnome as a desktop manager
, with 11.04 Ubuntu makes the switch to the Unity desktop environment
Before we come to the new desktop in more detail, lets mention some of the general updates the operating system received. The kernel got updated to the latest Linux 2.6.38
. Recently there have been reports that this version exhibits higher power consumption
, which is detrimental for mobile systems. However, it should be noted that the bug responsible for this has already been in previous versions as well. Currently this is under investigation by kernel developers. Canonical promised to release a patch to the kernel once the problem is resolved. Other major software has been updated as well. Most notably Firefox comes in the most recent release number four. OpenOffice.org has been replaced by LibreOffice 3.3.2
Regarding Unity it should be noted that it requires 3D acceleration, which is dependent on the availability of a suitable graphics driver. Using AMD and Intel graphics you can start right away, since open source drivers for their graphic cards / chipsets are available and included in the LiveCD. People with nVidia hardware first have to install the proprietary driver offered by the manufacturer which is not redistributed with Ubuntu. That rules out testing Unity from the LiveCD though, an installation is required. If 3D acceleration is not available, the classic Gnome interface known from previous Ubuntu releases is employed.Welcome to Ubuntu 11.04
When booting Ubuntu 11.04 with Unity enabled, you are greeted with an empty desktop and a couple of application symbols to the left of the screen. Icons include the home folder, Firefox, office productivity applications, the software center and Ubuntu One, Canonicals cloud storage service. When starting applications like Firefox or LibreOffice they will be launched in full screen mode and their main menu integrated in the top bar. In this case the launcher is hidden. If you move the mouse to the left it slides back in, though it should be noted that sometimes this behavior is a bit buggy.
For each window / application you have open, an indicator gets added to the left of the respective symbol. The number of indicators is dependent on the amount of windows opened in the program. Another indicator to the right of the icon is added to the currently active window. When the active application has multiple windows open and you click on the icon in the launcher, an overview of all the available windows of this application is shown.
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