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Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn

Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn final beta was released today, this being the first and only milestone for Ubuntu Utopic (while for the Ubuntu flavors, this is Beta 2). Let's take a look at what's new.

And I mean "look" figuratively, because there are almost no visual changes in this Ubuntu final beta release. For instance, this will probably be the first Ubuntu release in which Unity (now referred to as Unity 7, not to be confused with the latest Unity 8 which is used on the phone) won't get any new features - of course, unless that happens in the month that's left until the final release, but that's unlikely.

However, Unity 7 did receive quite a few bug fixes and minor improvements and the most notable were related to HiDPI support: the Dash previews, lockscreen and other Unity bits were updated with proper UI scaling based on current monitor scaling. You can check out the complete Unity 7 changelog HERE.

systemd available but not used by default, improved hybrid graphics support, Linux Kernel features

With Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn, the controversial systemd (208) is available in the repositories, and Ubuntu can finally boot with systemd, but it's not yet default because there are many packages which only have upstart jobs and they need to be updated to provide corresponding systemd units. Ubuntu will switch to systemd by default "when it's ready", says Martin Pitt

Hybrid graphics support was improved with Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn and the changes in this area include:
  • nvidia-prime and gpu-manager now support GDM (these changes were backported to older Ubuntu versions, but without the GDM patch that allows this);
  • added support for "gpumanager_uxa" and "gpumanager_modesetting" boot parameters, so that there is an option to force NVIDIA Optimus systems (that don't work well with Intel/SNA) to use either Intel/UXA or modesetting);
  • allow RandR offloading even without bbswitch;
  • more.

It's also important to note that Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn final beta ships with the Ubuntu Kernel 3.16.0-17, based on the upstream 3.16.3 Linux Kernel. Since the Linux kernel 3.13 (which is used in the previous Ubuntu version - 14.04), there were some important improvements, such as:
  • zram is considered stable with Linux 3.14; zram received LZ4 compression support;
  • stable support for Intel Broadwell CPU graphics (3.14);
  • the SCHED_DEADLINE scheduling class was added to the Linux scheduler in version 3.14 of the Linux kernel mainline;
  • faster resume from suspend;
  • EFI mixed mode support: 64-bit kernels can be booted from 32-bit firmware (with Linux 3.15);
  • various Nouveau improvements, including initial NVIDIA Maxwell GPU support, initial GK20A and GK110B GPU support as well as support for allowing to change the frequency of the GPU from the BIOS predefined values for nv40, nvaa, and nve0 clock types;
  • Radeon performance improvements through improved APU power management have been enabled in some APUs;
  • Intel Cherryview graphics support;
  • NVIDIA Tegra PRIME support;
  • Broadwell support for the Intel P-State driver (3.16);
  • various other improvements to audio and sound, btrfs and ext4 improvements, better support for newer laptops and much more.

You can read more about all the important Linux kernel changes here: Linux 3.14 | Linux 3.15 | Linux 3.16

Applications / packages

Among the applications shipped by default with Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn final beta are Firefox 32, Thunderbird 31.1, LibreOffice 4.3.1rc2, Nautilus 3.10.1, Rhythmbox 3.0.3, Empathy 3.8.6, Transmission 2.82, Shotwell 0.20.0, Gedit 3.10.4, Brasero 3.10.0 and Totem 3.10.1 (and others), on top of Unity 7.3.1+14.10.20140915 and GTK 3.12.2. Also, Utopic includes Mesa 10.2.6 (but 10.3 is available in the proposed repository) and Xorg server 1.16.0.

Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn final beta ships with GTK 3.12.2 and not the latest 3.14 (and, as you can see from the app list above, mostly GNOME 3.10 apps) because GNOME 3.14 was just released and Ubuntu 14.10 had its feature freeze on August 21st.

As for the default GNOME applications included by default in Ubuntu (w/ Unity), they are still at version 3.10 because they need to be patched to properly support Unity (to use regular window borders and menus) and it looks like the Ubuntu developers didn't have time to update them for this Ubuntu release.

There is some good news for GNOME fans though: GNOME Shell was updated to version 3.12.2 is available in the official Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn repositories.

Download Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn final beta

Before downloading it, remember that Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn is in beta, so you may encounter issues! That said, I've been using Ubuntu 14.10 for a while and, like the previous development cycle, it feels pretty stable and robust and I didn't encounter any major issues.

There are a couple of important known bugs that might occur if you try to install Ubuntu 14.10 Beta 2 (or any of the Ubuntu flavors) - check out the Xubuntu 14.10 beta 2 release announcement for work-arounds.

Download Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn final beta (for all flavors)

Release notes:

Ubuntu 14.10 (stable) will be released on October 23rd.

Are you using Ubuntu 14.10? What's your experience with it so far?