The five best things coming in Ubuntu 12.10 Linux

Ubuntu 12.10 has just hit beta phase. Here's what we have to look forward to in this forthcoming popular Linux distribution.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
The new Ubuntu Linux beta is already looking pretty good.

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions around. The next version, 12.10 aka Quantal Quetzal, has just reached beta phase. Here's what looking to to be the new Ubuntu's best features so far.

5) Unity Previews

In the Ubuntu Unity desktop, when you get a file, you get a lens that automatically open the file in the appropriate application. So, for instance, if you click on a document file, LibreOffice will open it, if you click on an image, Shotwell, will pop it open for you and so on.

What's new and improved in Ubuntu 12.10 is that you can now right click on files. Besides the usual more detailed information for the file from doing this that you get from most operating systems, you get a ”Preview Pane” for its content type. For instance if you right click a song in Unity's Dash display, you the album artwork and music player controls. This is a handy little feature.

4) Online account and Web service desktop integration.

Ubuntu has long integrated social network accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, into its desktop. In this version, Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, is also adding Web applications to its desktop. So, for example, Ubuntu's message indicator can be set to alert you when new mail arrives in your Gmail account.

Technically adept users can also use the application programming interface (API) and an integration script engine to make their own desktop applications.

3) Ubuntu One adds file sharing

Ubuntu One, Ubuntu's built-in personal cloud storage, ala Apple's iCloud and Windows 8's SkyDrive, now includes an easy-to-use file-sharing mechanism, Share Links. With this you can send friends and co-workers a Web link to a file you want to share with them. Of course, they still need your authorization to access the file, but it's still a handy, built-in way to share files.

2) Ubuntu moves to Python 3.

While like any Linux, you can write any program you like in any language that strikes your fancy, Ubuntu recommends “using Python. Many important parts of Ubuntu are already written directly in Python, and we work to make every important API and framework within Ubuntu available from Python.”

In this upcoming version, Kate Stewart, the Ubuntu Release Manager , announced, that “The Ubuntu desktop has begun migrating from Python 2 to Python 3. Most Python applications included in the desktop is now using Python 3, and most Python modules that are included by default are available for both Python 2 and Python 3.” In other words, if you want to develop for Ubuntu's, especially for its Unity and Head Up Display (HUD), you should be doing it in Python.

1) Unified Unity desktop

For graphics, Ubuntu is moving to a new X.org X Window stack. This include the new x.0rg 1.13, and updated X libs and drivers. On top of this, Ubuntu is consolidating its 2D and 3D versions of the GNOME 3.x-based Unity desktop. What all this should mean is that Ubuntu's desktop performance, especially on higher-end systems, should be faster.

Ubuntu is also using GNOME's Nautilus 3.4.2 as its fundamental file manager. This is not the newest version of Nautilus.

In the past, Ubuntu had always used GNOME's newest tools even while rejecting its default desktop, the GNOME shell, in favor or Unity. Not this time though. Like other Linux distributions, Ubuntu's developers have gotten tired of GNOME's increasingly out-of-touch Linux desktop development efforts.

The final version of Ubuntu 12.10 is scheduled for release on October 18, 2012. If you want you can give the new Ubuntu a spin today. You cannot, however, run or install Ubuntu 12.10 beta from a standard CD, The minimum Ubuntu test image, at about 800MB, is too big for an ordinary 700MB capacity CD. So, instead you'll need to use a DVD or a USB stick to play with the Ubuntu beta.


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