Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

Ubuntu 13.04 has been released today with many enhancements and fixes to Unity as well as some important performance improvements. Read on to find out more!

Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) video

Check out the video below to see what's new in Ubuntu 13.04:

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Unity changes in Ubuntu 13.04

Unity has been improved a lot in Ubuntu 13.04 and it's now a LOT faster than in Ubuntu 12.10. A lot of the work on Unity has happened under the hood but there are some user interesting interface changes and new features, such as:
  • new window switching feature that allows you to switch between open windows of the same application by using the Unity Launcher quicklists;
  • switch between an application's open windows by scrolling on the application icon in the Unity Launcher;
  • new Unity-style shutdown dialogs;
  • the Launcher minimum icon size limit has been decreased to 8px from 32px;
  • Dash is a lot faster (both to open and search), comes with improved preview animations, overlay scrollbars and the search has been improved with the addition of a new library which provides error tolerant matching so for instance, typing "gdit" will find Gedit, which wouldn't happen in Ubuntu 12.10;
  • Unity Online Accounts has received per application toggles so you can choose which application / feature is allowed to use your online accounts;
  • the Unity systray whitelist has been removed, so you can no longer whitelist applications to use the notification area, however, Java and Wine apps will continue to work since they have been whitelisted by default (hard-coded);
  • Sync Menu indicator is now available by default - this is an appindicator that allows you to control Ubuntu One;
  • a new, proper Bluetooth indicator has replaced the old Bluetooth indicator which was basically a patch over the Bluetooth notification area icon available in GNOME Fallback;
  • the old Gwibber lens has been replaced with a new "Friends" lens which basically does the same thing: allows you to view, preview (it supports Unity Dash Previews - from which you can perform various actions like: retweet, like a post on Facebook, etc.) and search your social networks streams (Twitter, Facebook, etc.);
  • the Workspace Switcher and removable media Launcher icons can now be moved anywhere on the Unity Launcher or they can be completely removed. The workspace switcher is actually not available by default (to turn the Workspace Swicher on: System Settings > Appearence > Behavior);
  • new icons for Nautilus, Ubuntu Software Center, Software Updater, Workspace Switcher (which now displays the active workspace) and BFB (the button used to open Dash);
  • new window snap animation that shows a window preview
  • many other subtle changes, improvements and fixes.

Here are some screenshots with the above mentioned changes as well as some other changes:

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Quicklist window switching feature

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Unity-style shutdown / logout etc. dialogs

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Unity-style shutdown / logout etc. dialogs

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Minimum Launcher icon size limit decreased to 8px

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Dash Previews (music)

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Overlay scrollbars for Dash

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Unity Online Accounts - per application toggles

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Sync Menu

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Bluetooth Indicator

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Friends Lens has replaced the old Gwibber Lens

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Friends Lens: Dash Previews

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Friends Lens

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Enable / disable workspaces (and the Workspace Switcher)

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
New icons for BFB (Dash), Nautilus, Software Center, Software Updater and Workspace Switcher

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Larger screenshot with the new Software Center, Software Updater and Nautilus icons

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
New window snap animation

Other changes changes / performance

The work to "make Ubuntu fit on mobile" had advantages for the desktop too and with Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail, the memory usage has been be greatly reduced. For instance, some processes were changed to exit-on-idle and be restarted-on-demand rather than running all the time, there have been many optimizations and fixed memory leaks and so on.

For me, Ubuntu 13.04 has been very stable and I've been using it since ~ January: both its development and the final release. Also, I didn't run any benchmarks or anything like that but compared to previous Ubuntu releases that have used Unity by default, Unity in Ubuntu 13.04 feels the most stable and most responsive / fastest of all releases. And I'm not the only one who thinks this - for instance, Chris from the Linux Action Show has mentioned that for him, Ubuntu 13.04 is the best Ubuntu release so far.

However, I'm using Ubuntu 13.04 with an Intel graphics card (well, Optimus actually but the desktop runs on the Intel graphics card) so I can't comment on how things work with Nvidia / AMD and their proprietary / open source drivers.

There are some minor issues which will probably be fixed in an update, like the top panel shadow showing up on top of full-screen videos in Totem (doesn't occur with GNOME Mplayer for instance).

Other changes include:
  • MTP support by default so you shouldn't have any issues accessing Android 4.0 devices that don't support USB Mass Storage via Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail (thanks to Gvfs which now comes with a MTP backend);
  • Intel SNA (2D acceleration for the Intel Linux graphics driver that improves the X.Org performance) has been turned on by default in Ubuntu 13.04. This should provide improved X.Org driver performance and thus, a faster, more responsive desktop;
  • LibreOffice has Ubuntu AppMenu and HUD support by default, without using any extensions (this feature is a bit buggy though and if HUD doesn't work properly for you, firstly open the menu, then try to use the HUD and it should work). LibreOffice 4.0 comes with many other enhancements, see THIS article for more info;
  • with Ubuntu 13.04, the process of switching from Python 2 to Python 3 continues, although not everything has been converted to Python 3 for the final Ubuntu 13.04 release;
  • simplified Software Updater;
  • a "tech preview" of Upstart User Sessions has been included by default in Ubuntu 13.04, which allows Upstart to supervise a user's desktop session. This feature is disabled by default for Ubuntu 13.04, but can be manually enabled for testing;
  • many others which you'll discover for yourself.

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Android 4.0+ device is accessible through Nautilus

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
LibreOffice 4.0 AppMenu

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
LibreOffice 4.0 HUD support

With Ubuntu 13.04, Wubi, the Ubuntu downloader / installer for Windows, has been discontinued. The reason behind this decision is the fact that Wubi hasn't been updated to work with Windows 8 because the Ubuntu developers now focus on the mobile client so Wubi wasn't in a releasable state for 13.04.

Also, with Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail, the maintenance period has been reduced from 18 months to 9 months - this change won't affect just Ubuntu 13.04 but all future non-LTS releases.

Default applications

Gwibber, the social / microblogging client that used to be available by default in Ubuntu has been removed by default and from the repositories (but, like I was saying above, the Gwibber Lens functionality is still available by default thanks to the new Friends lens). The application has been rewritten in QML and it can be installed via Ubuntu Software Center (and it's now called "Friends").

Ubuntu 13.04 continues to use GNOME 3.6 for the most part (even though GNOME 3.8 has been released recently - more on why they choose to stay with 3.6, HERE), like Ubuntu 12.10, however, some GNOME applications that weren't upgraded to version 3.6 in Ubuntu 12.10 are now available by default: Nautilus 3.6 and Totem 3.6.

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Nautilus 3.6

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Totem 3.6

Both Nautilus 3.6 and Totem 3.6 have been patched to work properly with Unity, for instance, there used to be an issue with Totem 3.6 which caused the menu not to be accessible but that's been fixed for the final Ubuntu 13.04 release, or Nautilus 3.6, which for instance, allows easily creating new documents via right click, functionality that was removed upstream.

The same goes for GNOME Control Center (System Settings) which has finally been updated to version 3.6.x after version 3.4.x has been used in Ubuntu 12.10:

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
GNOME Control Center 3.6

Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail screenshots
Ubuntu Software Center

Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) comes with the following packages by default: Firefox 20.0, Thunderbird 17.0.5, Nautilus 3.6.3, LibreOfice 4.0.2, Empathy 3.6.4, Totem (Videos) 3.6.3, Gedit 3.6.2, Deja Dup Backup Tool 26.0, Rhythmbox 2.98, GNOME Contacts 3.6.2, Brasero 3.6.1, Transmission 2.77, Remmina 1.0.0, Ubuntu Software Center 5.6.0 and GNOME Control Center 3.6.3, on top of Compiz 0.9.9~daily13.04.18.1, Unity 7.0.0daily13.04.18 and GTK 3.6.4.

For the Kernel, Ubuntu 13.04 includes the 3.8.0-19-29 Ubuntu Linux kernel, based on the upstream 3.8.8 Linux kernel.

Download / upgrade to Ubuntu 13.04

If you've installed Ubuntu 13.04 beta or a daily image and used the Software Updater to upgrade the packages, you already have the final Ubuntu 13.04 version so there's no need to do anything else.

Upgrade to Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail

To upgrade from Ubuntu 12.10 to the latest Ubuntu 13.04, open Software Sources and on the "Updates" tab, set "Notify me of a new Ubuntu version" to "For any new version", then press ALT + F2 and type: "update-manager -d" (without the quotes). The Software Updater should then show up, notifying you that you a new release - "13.04" - is available. Now all you have to do is click the "Upgrade" button and follow the instructions.

Users who run older Ubuntu versions will firstly have to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.10 and then upgrade to 13.04 (same instructions above).

For other Ubuntu flavors, you'll find download links below: