Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal beta 2 has just been released, this being the last beta. Up next: Ubuntu 11.04 final which will be released on April 28th.

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


Ubuntu 11.04 beta 2 comes with almost the same package versions as beta 1, with a few differences (Banshee, Shotwell, Firefox updated): Linux Kernel 2.6.38, Xserver 1.10, Gnome 2.32.1, Shotwell 0.9.1, Firefox 4.0, LibreOffice 3.3.2, Banshee 2.0.0, Evolution 2.32.2, PiTiVi 0.13.5, Totem 2.32.0, Brasero 2.32.1, Gwibber, Transmission 2.13, Empathy 2.34.0 and Nautilus

Changes in Ubuntu 11.04 beta 2 since beta 1

Since the second beta was released only 2 weeks after the first, there aren't many changes so I didn't make a video for Ubuntu 11.04 beta 2 (but you can watch our previous videos - there are lots Unity videos on the WebUpd8 YouTube channel).

But there are a few interesting changes worth mentioning. Read on!

Probably the most important change in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal beta 2 is that the overlay scrollbars are now default for both Unity and the classic Ubuntu desktop:

Unity overlay scrollbars
(Overlay scrollbars in Unity)

Overlay scrollbars classic Ubuntu session
(Overlay scrollbars in the classic Ubuntu session)

The overlay scrollbars don't work with all the applications for now. For instance you won't get overlay scrollbars in Firefox (and many other applications).

The overlay scrollbars are basically hidden scrollbars that become visible when you move your mouse to the side where the scrollbar should be. They are displayed outside of the application window for unaximized applications and inside of the window for maximized windows.

Those of you who plan on using the classic Ubuntu interface instead of Unity will be glad to know that the classic Ubuntu session (you can select it from the login screen) is really "classic" starting with beta 2. That means the menu has been reverted to the old Menu Bar applet (instead of using just the Ubuntu logo like it was in the previous beta / alpha versions), the AppMenu (Global Menu) has been disabled for this session and of course, the Systray works without having to whitelist applications:

Ubuntu 11.04 classic desktop

Another interesting (and definitely useful) change in Ubuntu 11.04 beta 2 is a new option in CCSM that allows you to specify the Unity Launcher reveal mode - you can set the bottom left or top left corner trigger the Unity launcher. Starting with beta 2, this defaults to "left":

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

But that's not the only change to the Unity launcher - another one is that when you open Dash, the Unity launcher is desaturated (becomes grey):

Unity Launcher Dash

The Compiz Grid plugin got animations which can be configured in CCSM. This is the effect that's displayed when you drag a window to the left/right/top of the screen (which maximizes the window when dragged on top, maximizes it on half the screen when dragged to the left or right):

Compiz Grid animations

(In the above screenshot you can also notice a shadow for the Unity panel - that's also new but unforunately it's just a hack for now - a PNG and not real shadow)

Ubuntu 11.04 screenshot

You can see this and some other changes in action in our last Unity video.

Other changes worth mentioning:

  • The Compiz Cube can be enabled again
  • You can now drag and drop from Dash to the Launcher
  • The top left corner turns blue when an application demands attention
  • Various theme changes like a black border for the windows and black scrollbar and tabs for the terminal.
  • Many other minor changes and of course, a lot of bugs fixed

Download Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal beta 2

As usual, remember that Ubuntu is still in beta so expect to find bugs!

If you've installed any previous Ubuntu 11.04 version (alpha / beta) and performed all the updates via Update Manager, you already have the latest Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal beta 2.

Download Ubuntu 11.04 beta 2 or upgrade from an older Ubuntu version via Update Manager or using the Live CD.