Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

Ubuntu 13.10 was released today and while there aren't as many new features as in the previous releases, there are some interesting changes. Read on to see what's new in Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)!

Unity changes

Ubuntu 13.10 comes with a new feature called "Smart Scopes" (also known as "100 scopes", although there aren't 100 scopes available yet) which provides a smarter Dash that tries to figure out what you've search for and return results relevant to your search query.

Below you can watch a video with the new Smart Scopes in action (the video is old, but there haven't been any major changes to the Smart Scopes since then):

(direct link to video)

When you search for something in the home lens, Dash tries to guess what categories should be selected based on the information it has about this on its central server. If you feel that Dash didn't select the proper categories, you can easily select or deselect categories and the scopes (sources) in each category.

For example, if you search for "Istanbul", Dash selects the following categories: Files & Folders, Info, More Suggestions, Music, Reference and Weather, which results in the following info being displayed:

Some of the new scopes come with Dash Previews support, allowing you to take a quick look at some extended information. Here are some examples for various search terms:

The scopes can be individually enabled or disabled from the Applications Lens, by selecting "Dash plugins" and then opening the preview for the plugin/scope you want to enable or disable:

For more information about enabling/disabling Dash plugins, see THIS article.

Unity 8 isn't ready for the desktop yet, but it's available in the Ubuntu 13.10 repositories so you can easily test it if you want (appindicators don't work, you can't access the Dash, etc.):

No XMir by default

Even though it was initially decided that Ubuntu 13.10 will use XMir (an implementation of X running or Mir) by default, the developers changed their mind and XMir isn't used in the default Ubuntu 13.10 installation "due to some outstanding technical difficulties". Basically, XMir is not yet fully ready for the desktop, one of the biggest issues being the multi-monitor support which doesn't work properly for now.

Mir and XMir are available in the repositories so users can still test this if they want (note: it only works with open source drivers for now!)

For more on this subject, see THIS article.

Other changes in Ubuntu 13.10 (Saucy Salamander)

Other changes included in the latest Ubuntu 13.10:
  • new keyboard indicator;
  • Ubuntu One login has been added to the Ubuntu installer;
  • revamped Privacy & Security Control Center panel;
  • initial Optimus support with a new "nvidia-prime" package (not installed by default but it's available in the repositories) - see THIS article for more info as well as support for hybrid AMD graphics - more info HERE;
  • theme improvements such as dark toolbars for GNOME 3 applications (Nautilus, Evince, Font Viewer, GNOME Clocks, GNOME Documents, Epiphany and so on);
  • new default wallpaper which follows the same colors scheme as the previous ones.

Here are a few screenshots with some of these changes:

New keyboard indicator
Ubuntu One login in the installer
Privacy & Security

Privacy & Security
Dark toolbars for GNOME 3 apps with Ambiance (and Radiance)

The default Ubuntu 13.10 wallpaper

Default applications

Ubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Ubuntu 13.10 ships with GNOME 3.8 for the most part, the only GNOME 3.6 packages being Epiphany, GNOME Terminal and GNOME System Settings (as well as GNOME Panel, but that's not installed by default).

The following applications are installed by default in Ubuntu 13.10: Firefox 24, Thunderbird 24, LibreOffice 4.1.2, Empathy 3.8.4, Nautilus 3.8.2, Totem 3.8.2, GNOME Contacts 3.8.3, Gedit 3.8.3, Brasero 3.8.0, Rhythmbox 2.99.1, Deja Dup 27.3.1, Transmission 2.82, Remmina 1.0.0 and Ubuntu Sofware Center 13.10, on top of Compiz 0.9.10+13.10, Unity 7.1.2+13.10 and GTK 3.8.4.

Ubuntu 13.10 includes the 3.11.0-12.19 Ubuntu Linux Kernel based on the upstream 3.11.3 Linux Kernel, Xorg server 1.14.3 and Mesa 9.2.1.

Download Ubuntu 13.10

Ubuntu 13.10 may not have as many exciting new features as the previous releases (well, there's basically just one big new feature), but it feels more robust and stable than 13.04 (at least on my system) - for instance, Unity and Compiz got a huge number of bug fixes and performance improvements. And I think that alone is enough to make it worth an upgrade.

Before downloading Ubuntu 13.10, make sure you read the official release notes!

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