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Canonical, as expected, launched Ubuntu 11.10 today.
Canonical, as expected, launched Ubuntu 11.10 today. Although it seems like just yesterday that Mark Shuttleworth’s announcement of the codename for Ubuntu 11.10 had me googling the terms “oneiric” and “oncelot,” the development cycle of the latest Ubuntu release is officially complete as of today. That means Canonical has introduced the 15th iteration of the world’s most popular Linux distribution has debuted. What does that mean for us users? Here’s a look.
I have to admit: for me, Ubuntu release days have lost some of the excitement they held in the days of yore. Time there was when I would eagerly download the ISO (via a torrent, of course, to avoid unnecessary load on Canonical’s servers) and install it as soon as I could. But this time around, I feel no sense of urgency. I’ll upgrade when I get to it.
This lack of excitement isn’t due to any fault of Canonical’s, though. On the contrary, it’s because Ubuntu has become so consistent and predictable in its evolution that the release day just doesn’t feel like as big a deal as it used to. Since the first version of Ubuntu, 4.10 or “Warty Warthog,” appeared seven years ago this month, Canonical has churned out a new release every October and April right on schedule. (The singular exception was Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, which was deliberately released a bit later than usual, on June 1, 2006.)
Without the constantly shifting release dates and broken promises by software executives that I expect with other operating systems, things just aren’t as fun!
All the same, Canonical’s regularity regarding Ubuntu is a remarkable accomplishment for any software platform. But it’s particularly impressive in the open-source channel, where a dependency on contributions from volunteers and third-party projects often makes development roadmaps tentative at best.
The fact that Ubuntu 11.10’s release date has been predictably predictable, of course, doesn’t mean that the features of the new operating system itself are dull by any stretch of the imagination. There’s plenty of new stuff in Oneiric, including but not limited to:
Lots of usability enhancements for Unity–which is good, because GNOME 2 is no longer installed by default as a fallback option for users who don’t like the Unity interface. (An alternative version of Unity which doesn’t require 3D acceleration is available for computers that can’t handle 3D effects.)
Firefox 7.0 replaces 6.0 as the default Web browser, and…
Mozilla also comes out on top for email, with Evolution removed in favor of Thunderbird as the default mail client.
Major enhancements to the Ubuntu Software Center.
An official promotional video highlights some of these updates:
In addition, changes that might receive less notice from desktop users but which are equally significant for Ubuntu from a broader perspective include:
For the first time, Ubuntu runs a Linux 3.0+ kernel.
Official support for more ARM architectures.
The official launch of the “Ubuntu Friendly” community-based hardware-validation program.
And there you have it: my own laissez-faire attitude about this release notwithstanding, there are plenty of new features and initiatives to watch for in the Oneiric release. But don’t take my word for it. Download it yourself now.
Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.
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