Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1 has been released with many improvements and some of which added new features to the Unity dash and integration with social media services including Facebook and Twitter. As usual, Canonical and the Ubuntu development team release new versions of Ubuntu every six months. Ubuntu 12.10 is expected to be made available on October 18th. Of course, you can try Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1 right now – but don’t use it in a productive environment until the final release!
No more burning Ubuntu onto a CD.
There was reports that Ubuntu 12.04 would be the first ever release to not fit on a CD by initially providing an upper limit of the size of the Ubuntu 12.04 ISO image to 750MB, giving developers more room to fit on other software and packages and obviously, the option of being able to include more drivers on the disc for greater out-of-the-box compatibility with hardware if necessary. While it seemed likely Ubuntu 12.04 would not fit on a CD, Ubuntu’s Stephane Graber explained that “the only tweak that was done was on the exact size of what a CD is, where the old check was for 700MB and the new one is for 703MB as we found most (if not all) current burning tools and drives accept this.”
However, this has definitely been confirmed for Ubuntu 12.10. If you have a stack of discs, the unfortunate case is you can’t use them to burn Ubuntu 12.10 on. Once released, Ubuntu 12.10 can only be burnt to a DVD disc or copied over onto a USB pen drive. Luckily, this is relatively easy to do. If you already have Ubuntu installed, you can make use of the included Startup Disk Creator application to copy over the Ubuntu ISO files onto a USB pen drive. On Windows, you can use the Universal USB Installer. On Mac OS, you have to unfortunately use the Terminal with instructions found here.
LibreOffice to have Unity menu bar integration.
The latest builds in Ubuntu 12.10 appears to see LibreOffice having native Unity menu bar integration. As you can see, even in Ubuntu 12.04, LibreOffice has an inconsistent user interface because it doesn’t make use of the Unity scrollbars present in many other applications, including Nautilus (the file manager), Empathy Messaging, etc.
That said, Firefox also doesn’t make use of Unity scrollbars. Hopefully in the future the scrollbars will make their way to LibreOffice and Firefox; but as of now, it provides an inconsistent user interface and experience to Ubuntu users.
However, Joey Sneddon at OMG! Ubuntu, stated that the menu bar integration is not as bug-free as you’d expect, with Joey stating stating that “switching from LibreOffice to another application and then back again seemed to ‘grey out’ the majority of menu items, despite the fact that they were available before. Even ‘Exit’ was greyed out.”(1)
Ubuntu Online Accounts.
Apps can now make use of “Online Accounts” in order to pull data from various online services, including Twitter, Facebook, Google, Flickr, and others. Apps such as Gwibber can make use of this and provides a central place for users to input their credentials once and any apps authorised can pull data from this central location. A nice new feature if you ask me.
The new “Photo Lens” option in the Unity Dash allows you to search for photos based on name, tag and “EXIF” data. And with Unity Previews, you can preview the photo itself (as well as documents and other files, etc.) by simply right-clicking. And Unity Previews is a new feature in the Dash in Ubuntu 12.10.
Unity Previews is a new feature in Ubuntu 12.10 that allows you to preview the contents of documents, images and even music files. So if you want to see if you are opening the right document, simply right-click it in the Unity Launcher for a preview of the document’s contents.
As usual, the included applications have been updated.
- Firefox 15
- Thunderbird 15 (with its new tab UI)
- LibreOffice 3.6.1
- Rhythmbox 2.96
Some things I’d like to see.
There are some things I’d like to see in a very near-future release of Ubuntu.
- Unity Launcher stability improvements: Even though the Launcher was greatly improved in Ubuntu 12.04, I still think it’s a little buggy. Sometimes the Launcher icon freezes on the Launcher and I have to manually execute unity –replace.
- UI and UX coherency: User interface plays a key role in user experience, and both are very important for the success of any platform.
- Multiple Windows in One Application: If you have many application windows open in any active application, selecting the right application window can be tedious.
Try out Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1
To try out Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1, download it from cdimage.ubuntu.com. Although, as always, use it for testing purposes only.