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Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1 screenshot

Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1 has been released today and it includes a huge number of changes since alpha 2, so let's take a look at what's new.

As usual, we'll start with a video:

(direct video link)

Unity changes in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1

Probably the biggest change since Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin alpha 2 is the addition of HUD by default. HUD, or Head-Up Display is an alternative to application menus especially designed for Unity that works everywhere the global menu does and lets you search the menus of either the focused window or the whole application. It doesn't replace the global menu so even though it's there by default, you're not forced to use it.

Ubuntu HUD menu
HUD can be invoked by tapping ALT.

Another very important change is that Unity (as well as LightDM) finally got multi monitor support. A launcher with screen edge detection is now displayed on every monitor, so you don't have to travel to another display to launch or switch applications:

Unity mutli monitor

A new Unity home lens which displays recent files and applications has been added by default, replacing the previous 'giant' shortcuts:

Ubuntu 12.04 new home lens

There's also a new video lens for both local and online videos (Vimeo, YouTube, Amazon, TED, BBC iPlayer, etc.):

ubuntu 12.04 video lens

In Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1, the launcher uses a new "push to reveal" mode to avoid revealing the Launcher by accident. The new reveal mode can be tweaked using CompizConfig Settings Manager:

Also, the Unity launcher dodge-windows mode has been removed.

NotifyOSD now uses the same median colour and blur used for Dash (which depends on the colour of your wallpaper):




A shortcut hints overlay is displayed when pressing and holding the SUPER key. This is a list of Unity keyboard shortcuts that blends nicely with the desktop by using the same style as Dash:

shortcut hints overlay ubuntu

The Ubuntu button, mounted devices, workspace switcher and trash icon now follow the Dash "chameleon" style:

The tooltips and quicklists have received a face-lift:

There were some changes for Unity 2D too which now uses the same window buttons as Unity 3D. Unity 2D also got a new home lens and a transparent top panel:

Unity 2D ubuntu 12.04

Unity 2D still needs some work to look and behave like Unity 3D: there are no Dash quicklists yet, no HUD and so on.

Other changes

Ubuntu One now uses a new Qt interface by default, replacing the old GTK interface:

Ubuntu One qt

According to a bug report, the Ubuntu One team is no longer supporting the GTK interface so it will be removed soon.

Also, Rhythmbox got its Ubuntu One Music Store plugin back, though it's not enabled by default:

Starting with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS beta 1, when opening CompizConfig Settings Manager, a dialog is displayed, telling you to "Use with caution". This is because CCSM is probably the number one cause behind most Unity crashes.

Also, the Unity plugin in CCSM can no longer be disabled when you're logged in to the Unity session.

The Unity Greeter (LightDM login screen theme) login box has a new look in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1 and it now displays the session logo:

There's also a new Unity Greeter session chooser dialog:

Unity Greeter session chooser dialog

The Ubuntu 12.04 LTS installer slideshow now displays a Twitter stream (for #ubuntu), though it doesn't seem to be in real-time:

Installer slideshow Twitter stream - you can see it in action HERE (last slide).

Zeitgeist Activity Log Manager has been included in the Ubuntu 12.04 beta 1 System Settings by default. Using it, you can clear your Dash history, blacklist applications activity or folders from showing up in Dash:

There's also a new option to allow/disallow people using your computer to send error reports to Canonical:

The Classic GNOME Session (GNOME Fallback) is not installed by default, but this deserves a mention: the Classic session has been tweaked to look like the old GNOME 2 session, including indicators and working Compiz:

The theme still needs some tweaks though, as you can see in the screenshot above.

These are just some of the more important changes in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1. There were many other minor changes, including:
  • New default behavior for the ALT + TAB switcher which now displays applications on the current workspace
  • Many GNOME Control Center (System Settings) improvements
  • Theme improvements
  • DNS resolution is now done through dnsmasq, which should help split-DNS VPNs and faster DNS resolution
  • Enhanced ClickPad support
  • Nautilus gained undo/redo functionality

Default applications

The default application selection in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS beta 1 includes: Nautilus 3.3.90, Ubuntu Software Center 5.1.10, Firefox 11 beta 4, Thunderbird 11 beta 3, LibreOffice 3.5.0, Rhythmbox 2.95, Deja Dup Backup Tool 21.90, Gwibber 3.3.90, Empathy 3.3.5, Shotwell 0.11.92, Transmission 2.50, Remmina (remote desktop client) 1.0, GNOME Control Center (System Settings) 3.3.90, Gedit 3.3.4, Brasero 3.2.0 and Totem 3.0.1. Also, Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1 uses Linux Kernel 3.2.0-17.27 based on the 3.2.6 upstream stable kernel and Xorg server 1.11.4.

While Banshee was supposed to be reviewed for beta 1 and then decided if Ubuntu 12.04 will use Banshee or Rhythmbox, this was skipped because Banshee hasn't been ported to GTK3 yet. So for now (probably in the final version too), Rhythmbox is the default music player in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin.

Starting with beta 1,  the Linux Kernel comes with RC6 for Sandy Bridge systems enabled by default. "RC6 is a technology which allows the GPU to go into a very low power consumption state when the GPU is idle (down to 0V). It results in considerable power savings when this stage is activated."

Up next:
  • March 29th - Beta 2
  • April 26th - final Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Precise Pangolin

Download Ubuntu 12.04 LTS beta 1

Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1 feels quite stable, but this is a beta so things can go wrong! Do not use it on a production machine. The best way to test it is in VirtualBox or booting from an USB stick.

Warning: if you want manually partition the hard disk from the Ubuntu installer, select "Install" directly from the GRUB menu. If you let it boot and then select to install Ubuntu, the installer will crash if you try to partition the HDD manually.

If you've installed a previous Ubuntu 12.04 milestone (alpha 1, 2) or a daily build and and have all the packages up to date (you've done regular updates through Update Manager), you already have the latest beta 1.

Download Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta 1