Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal beta 1 has just been released! As usual, we'll do a recap of all the new features and changes since the previous milestone (Alpha 3) which of course you already know if you read WebUpd8 daily. But even so, maybe there are some things you've missed so read on to see what's new in Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 since alpha 3!

Also see: Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 3 | Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 2 | Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 1

Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 video

I'm going to start with a video I've recorded with the latest Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 in action since I've noticed you really like videos:

You can find more Ubuntu 11.04 videos (among others) on our YouTube channel and Facebook page


Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 comes with Kernel 2.6.38, Xserver 1.10, Gnome 2.32.1, Shotwell 0.9, Firefox 4.0 RC2 (apparently the package has not been updated to the final version, however, RC2 is identical to the final version), LibreOffice 3.3.2, Banshee 1.9.5, Evolution 2.32.2 and Nautilus


Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal might get full multiarch library support. What does that mean for you? For example, if you use 64bit, you'll be able to install Adobe Flash among other 32bit libraries from the repositories without having to force the architecture or any other tweak. Here's an example that might work soon:

"sudo apt-get install flashplugin-installer:i386"

Steve Langasek, who made this announcement on the Ubuntu-Devel mailing list says this doesn't work on the desktop yet because a lot of libraries need to be transitioned for multiarch. And for this, he needs help or else multiarch might only work for some packages in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal.

More about this, HERE.

Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 changes since alpha 3 (w/ screenshots)

We get a lot of comments regarding this so it seems many of you are not aware that the regular Gnome desktop is still available so I'll have to remind you that even though Unity is default, you can still log in to the classic GNOME desktop by selecting "Ubuntu Classic Desktop" in the login screen:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

Also, if your hardware does not support Unity, Ubuntu will fall back to the regular GNOME desktop. Now that we've made this clear, let's begin:

A lot of things are being re-implemented in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal so even though you've known them since... forever, they are brand new in 11.04, but with a new look.

That's for instance the case of ALT + F2 which has been missing until Alpha 3 but has finally been added in Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1, and it looks very cool:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

The functionality is pretty nice too: you get a list of search results as soon as you start typing and below it there's also a command history.

One very important feature was added to the latest Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1: the Unity launcher is now resizable. This has been a much requested feature but it has been ignored until now, when a patch was submitted and accepted so you can finally resize the launcher. There's a minimum of 32 pixels and a maximum of 64:

Unity launcher resizable Ubuntu 11.04

This feature is not default but has made a lot of noise lately so I had to add it to the post: Ubuntu Software Center lets you test drive applications without installing them (but it only works with some applications). You need a good Internet connection for this and also, you'll have to install a package called "qtnx" to be able to use it. To "test-drive" an application, open Ubuntu Software Center and on the application page you should see a new button called "Test Drive" under the application screenshot:

Ubuntu 11.04 natty narwhal

Speaking of Ubuntu Software Center: when installing an application, USC now asks if you want to add a shortcut on the launcher:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

Unity grab handlers is also a new feature, especially designed for touch devices but it works on non-touch too: it's a plugin you can enable in CompizConfig Settings Manager which will help you resize or drag a window:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

The Firefox AppMenu (Global Menu) has finally been set as default:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

A LibreOffice appmenu is also available but it's not yet default.

You can now directly access a category from the Unity applications / files places. This was available in Ubuntu 10.10 but it was just re-introduced in the new Compiz-based Unity in Ubuntu 11.04:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

Dash got new scrollbars:

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot


Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 brings some artwork changes too. The default wallpaper got some slight changes (almost unnoticeable):

Ubuntu 11.04 default wallpaper

Also, the community wallpapers package has been updated and it now includes 16 brand new wallpapers:

Ubuntu 11.04 natty wallpaper
Check them all out HERE.

There were some other changes to various artwork items: the panel icons got an update but just like the default wallpaper, the changes are not that easy to notice - except for the Ubuntu icon in the top left corner which is now a lot bigger then before. The Unity Application Files / Places icons were changed too. You can see screenshots with all of these throughout the screenshots and video in this post.

Other changes in Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1 (since alpha 3) worth mentioning:
  • changes to the Ubuntu One look
  • double clicking top panel restores maximized window
  • Dash suggests applications you may want to install; clicking such an application will open the Ubuntu Software Center
  • the Unity launcher now supports drag'n'drop
  • you can now drag icon to the trash to remove it
  • Dash got a blur option
  • Pressing ALT + F2 and entering "about:config" will launch the Unity settings in CCSM
  • and many many other minor tweaks and features

Another change that was introduced after Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 3 is removing the border for the Ambiance and Radiance themes. However, this change was quickly reverted as it seems it causes issues for those who do not use Unity but this may return until Ubuntu 11.04 final is released.

Unity 2D (Qt) video

As usual, I like to keep you up to date with Unity 2D's current status, even though it's not available on the Ubuntu 11.04 CD (but you can install it from the repositories). Since I don't use it, I can't post a detailed list of changes like for the regular Unity, but here's a short video demoing the latest Unity 2D.

You can find more Ubuntu 11.04 videos (among others) on our YouTube channel and Facebook page

Note: this time all the screenshots and videos have been made on a netbook. Since the last time (Alpha 3) I've made them on a 1920x1080 resolution, I though it would be nice to see how it looks on a netbook too, now that the netbook edition no longer exists. The only difference is that Dash is not full-screen on a desktop.

Up next: Ubuntu 11.04 beta 2 on April 14th and then Ubuntu 11.04 final on April 28th.

Download Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal beta 1

Remember: Ubuntu 11.04 is still in beta 1 so you may find bugs. It's recommended you don't install it on a production system. You have been warned!

Download Ubuntu 11.04 beta 1

Also see: Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 3 | Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 2 | Ubuntu 11.04 alpha 1