Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 2 has been released today. Here's a recap of all the changes in Oneiric since alpha 1.

Firstly, here's a video demoing Unity, Unity 2D and GNOME Shell (GNOME Shell is not installed by default!) in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 2:

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Light Themes / design

Ambiance and Radiance, the Ubuntu "light themes", have finally been ported to GTK3 and look pretty much like the GTK2 versions:

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot radiance

And that's a good thing because Ambiance/Radiance GTK3 use a new GTK3 engine called Unico, especially designed for the Ubuntu Light themes so making them look like the GTK2 themes is quite difficult.

The Overlay scrollbars were also updated in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 2, but the changes are not exactly visible in screenshots, so take a look at the video below recorded by Andrea Cimitan, the Overlay scrollbars / Light themes developer:

Also, the AppMenu (Global Menu) GTK3 port is finally available:

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot appmenu

AppMenu GTK3 was also available back in alpha 1, but wasn't installed by default due to a bug.

Default applications

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot uses Unity by default, with Unity 2D as the fallback mode (for computers that can't run the regular Unity) but GNOME Shell is available in the repositories and can be installed via Ubuntu Software Center / Synaptic.

As you know, Ubuntu 11.10 comes with GNOME 3 (do not confuse GNOME 3 with GNOME Shell: GNOME 3 is the application stack: Gedit, Nautilus, Totem, etc., while GNOME Shell is the interface and is not installed by default) and while most GNOME libraries have been upgraded to version 3.1.x, some applications are still at version 3.0.x, like Totem (3.0.1), GNOME Terminal (3.0.1) or GNOME Shell (3.0.2).

If in Oneiric alpha 1 we only some a few applications that were removed (PiTiVi and Computer Janitor), Ubuntu 11.10 alpha 2 brings all the new default applications that were announced back at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Budapest: Deja Dup backup tool has been added by default, LightDM has replaced GDM as the default display manager and Thunderbird has replaced Evolution as the default email client.

However, according to the default email client blueprint, it's not yet sure if Thunderbird will remain as default. Both Thunderbird and Evolution will be evaluated sometime around Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 3 and it will then be decided if Thunderbird will stay as default or if Evolution will make it back in Oneiric.

Deja Dup had to get Ubuntu One integration if it was to be included by default. And so it did:

Deja Dup backup tool

For now, LightDM comes with the default greeter but hopefully we'll get a nice looking theme soon:

LightDM Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

Thunderbird integrates nicely with the Unity desktop:

Thunderbird Ubuntu 11.10



Thunderbird Notifyosd

There are still two features missing in Thunderbird (well, for regular users): Ubuntu One (contacts) and calendar integration, but they are on the todo list.

Other applications available in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 2: Nautilus 3.1.3, Gedit 3.1.1, Banshee 2.1.0, Ubuntu Software Center 4.1.8, Firefox 5.0, LibreOffice 3.3.2. Also, Oneiric alpha 2 comes with Linux Kernel 3.0.0 rc5 and Xorg server 1.10.3 rc2 ("").

Also, even though the Ubuntu-meta changelog mentions that Synaptic has been removed, Synaptic is actually still available in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 2 and the daily builds.


Unity received a few updates, but mostly bug fixes. There area couple of new features tough:

A modal dialog plugin was added to Compiz by default (but it only available for new installs or if you reset Unity). This plugin dims the parent window, making the dialogs stand out:

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot modal dialogs

Since it's a Compiz plugin, it can be turned off or customized:

Ubuntu 11.10 modal dialogs ccsm

Another new feature is that you can now specify the automaximize windows value in CCSM:

CCSM automaximize unity windows ubuntu 11.10 oneiric ocelot

You've probably notice that some windows are automatically maximized in Ubuntu 11.04. Well, this happens for all windows that take 75% of the screen but by using this new CCSM option, you can tweak this value.

Unity 2D

The Unity 2D session (the fallback mode for Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot) has been renamed to "Ubuntu 2D" in the LigthDM login screen.

Unity 2D didn't get any major changes, but there are a few worth mentioning:
  • you can now drag icons from dash to launcher
  • Unity 3D-like reveal behavior
  • real transparency for the launcher
  • and some other bug fixes.

Unity 2D also got modal dialogs:

Unity 2D Ubuntu 11.10

But for now it's only the dialogs theming. Te actual modal dialogs behavior hasn't been implemented in Unity 2D yet.

Here are a couple of Unity 2D screenshots:

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot Unity 2D

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot Unity 2D

Stable enough?

Ubuntu 11.10 has just reached alpha 2 so I strongly recommend you do not use it on a production machine. Even if everything is working fine when you install it, an upgrade might result in a broken system so be careful!

But I must say, for the past two weeks, Ubuntu 11.10 (Unity 3D) has been pretty stable for me except for some occasional crashes (but nothing major) which are expected this early in the development stage. However, reading some posts on the Ubuntu forums, it seems some users have experienced some pretty major issues so I may have just been lucky.

Unity 2D on the other hand was pretty broken: Dash wouldn't open (this was fixed a while back) and later on, the appindicators weren't displayed but all of these were fixed for Oneiric alpha 2.

Up next:
August 4th - Alpha 3
September 1st - Beta 1
September 22nd - Beta 2
October 6th - RC
October 13th - final Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

Download Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot Alpha 2

Remember, Oneiric alpha 2 is not stable so do not install it on a production machine!

Download Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot alpha 2 (link includes the release notes).