First Beta of Ubuntu Version 12.04 Features Many Improvements
Late last week, after a long alpha release test period, which we covered here, the first beta version of Ubuntu 12.04 (dubbed Precise Pangolin) became available. You can get it and read about it now, although the Ubuntu Wiki warns that this beta is primarily for developers and testers at this point. This new version of Ubuntu is a major upgrade. Here is more on what to expect from it.
The first beta of version 12.04 includes the 3.2.0-17.27 Ubuntu kernel which is based on the v3.2.6 upstream stable kernel. This is an update to the version of the kernel that was present in the Alpha version. Among other things, the new kernel handles power management much more flexibly and more efficiently than ever before.
The default music player in Ubuntu has been changed to Rhythmbox, which includes the UbuntuOne music store. Rhythmbox is a solid digitial music management system, but many users will prefer Amarok or Banshee.
After recieving so much flack for the Unity graphical interface, there are "Appearances" features in version 12.04 of Ubuntu that allow you to tweak the look of your desktop interface. Of course, many users have already figured out how to customize Unity, as we covered here.
Ubuntu's new HUD (Head's Up Display) interface arrives in the first beta of version 12.04. This has been quite controversial. A blog post from Mark Shuttleworth defends it and characterizes the interface as a big new step for Ubuntu. He offers a screenshot and a video illustrating it. The interface lets users hit the Alt key and type in a description of a command to execute, effectively bypassing menus. Some will like this feature, and some will hate it.
Finally, many Ubuntu users will be happy to see that the Office productivity suite in Ubuntu 12.04 is the latest version of LibreOffice. LibreOffice is getting a lot of good notice for the strengh of its suite.
For now, many users will want to wait for Precise Pangolin to go through a beta cycle or two before trying it. However, if you're anxious to try it out, it is stable and the performance and power management improvements will be especially welcome.