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Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus LTS final beta is available for download, and it includes quite a few changes, including an option to move the Unity Launcher to the bottom of the screen, the replacement of Ubuntu Software Center with GNOME Software and more.

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots

Note that this is the first and only Ubuntu 16.04 (with Unity) beta. The ISO says "beta 2" because some of the Ubuntu flavors (like Ubuntu MATE) also had a beta 1 release, and this is beta 2 for them.


Video: quick look at what's new in Ubuntu 16.04 final beta



(direct video link)


Unity changes in Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus LTS final beta


Even though in the past, LTS (long term support) releases didn't receive any major new features, that doesn't seem to be the case any more, and the latest Xenial final beta ships with an important new Unity feature: the ability to move the Unity Launcher (and along with it, Dash) to the bottom of the screen:

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots launcher bottom

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots launcher bottom

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots launcher bottom

Right now, there's no option for this in System Settings so to move the Launcher to the bottom, you'll need to install dconf-tools and use it change the launcher position (com > canonical > unity > launcher > launcher-position):

Unity bottom launcher dconf editor

By default, Unity Launcher continues to be placed on the left. Also, there's still no option to move it to the right.

Another important Unity change in Ubuntu 16.04 is that online searches in Dash are disabled by default. The online search Dash feature wasn't removed and users can enable it via System Settings > Security & Privacy:

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots

The initial plan was that even after enabling the Dash online search feature, Amazon and Skimlinks results would remain off until the users toggles them back on however, this option didn't make it into Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, at least for now.

Other minor, but interesting and useful new Unity features and improvements available in the latest Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus final beta:
  • the file manager (Nautilus) is now integrated with Unity Launcher, so every device icon available on Unity Launcher only manages the relative window, while the Files (Nautilus) icon matches the other views. For instance, if you click on the Trash (or USB devices, etc.) icon, the Nautilus window that opens is managed from the Trash icon, and not from the Nautilus icon from the Launcher;
  • session actions (shutdown, reboot, etc.) are now available from Unity Dash
  • the option to change the menu visibility (displayed on mouse hovering or always visible) is now available in System Settings (Appearance > Behavior tab) so you no longer need to use dconf Editor or other third-party tools to change this;
  • GNOME Software now integrates with Unity Launcher, in the same way Ubuntu Software Center did (it places newly installed app icons on the Launcher);
  • Dash now uses GTK-like overlay scrollbars instead of the old, Unity overlay scrollbars-like design;
  • better Dash theming support;
  • support for scaling cursors in HiDPI environments;
  • the Unity workspace switcher now uses quicklists that allows switching to a certain workspace;
  • the Unity application window spread (so for an application that has multiple open windows) can now be triggered using a keyboard shortcut: Super+Ctrl+W;
  • the option to format USB devices via Unity quicklists has returned (though for some reason, it's not displayed for me, I'm not sure why)
  • various other changes and numerous bug fixes - you can see a complete changelog here: Unity | Compiz.

Here are a few screenshots with some of these changes:

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots Unity file manager integration
Unity Launcher devices / trash integration for Nautilus

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus Screenshots Dash GTK-like overlay scrollbars
Dash GTK-like overlay scrollbars

An option to toggle menu visibility (autohide / always visible) is now available in System Settings (previously it was only available via dconf Editor and other third-party tools)

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots workspace switcher quicklists
Unity Workspace Switcher now comes with quicklists


Default applications / packages in Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus final beta


There have been quite a few changes in the default applications / packages compartment in Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus.

The most important are probably the replacement of Ubuntu Software Center, which was in a pretty bad state for quite some time, with GNOME Software (version 3.19.93~git in the Xenial final beta):

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots gnome software

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots gnome software

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots gnome software

... and the removal of the Catalyst/fglrx video driver. Among the reasons for the fglrx removal are that it didn't support XServer 1.18, which is used in 16.04, and the fact that AMD asked the Ubuntu developers to migrate to the open driver stak. More information on this subject is available HERE.

Another change is the introduction of GNOME Calendar (3.19.92 in Xenial final beta) as a default application:

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots gnome calendar

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots gnome calendar

First introduced as a "preview" app with GNOME 3.16, Calendar features month and year views, calendar search and allows adding calendars from files or remote URLS. Also, the app integrates with Online Accounts, so it can display and sync your Google Calendar events.

The application is one of the very few (actually only GNOME Logs - as far as I know - is also installed by default and uses header bars) available by default in Ubuntu, that wasn't patched to use a traditional menu and titlebar and instead, it uses a header bar.

As you can see from the screenshot above, header bar apps still have some issues with displaying round corners at the top of the window.

With Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, there are two applications that are no longer available by default, most probably because they haven't had a major release in years: Empathy and Brasero, and no other applications were added in their place. So by default, Ubuntu 16.04 won't ship with an instant messaging app nor a CD/DVD burning tool.

Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots

As for other GNOME applications, Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus final beta ships with GNOME 3.18 for the most part, and it includes Totem 3.18.1, Terminal 3.18.3, Gedit 3.18.3, Eye of GNOME (Image Viewer) 3.18.2, System Monitor 3.18.2, Disks 3.18.3.1 and Evince 3.18.2. 

Among the non-GNOME 3.18 exceptions are Software and Calendar, which I mentioned above, and Nautilus (Files), which is still at version 3.14.3.


Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus screenshots LibreOffice

Other default applications available with Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus final beta include: Firefox 45.0.1, Thunderbird 38.6, Rhythmbox 3.3, LibreOffice 5.1.1 (which defaults to the Breeze theme in Ubuntu), Transmission 2.84, Deja Dup 34.1 and Shotwell 0.22.0+git, on top of Unity 7.4.0 (daily build as of March 21st) and GTK+ 3.18.9.

Under the hood, Xenial final beta ships with Mesa 11.1.2, Xorg server 1.18.1 and the Ubuntu Linux Kernel 4.4.0-15.31, based on the upstream 4.4.6 Linux Kernel.


Download Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus LTS final beta (beta 2)


Before downloading, remember that Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus is still in beta, so you may encounter issues! The final (stable) release is expected on April 21st.

Important: currently there's a bug that affects upgrading from Ubuntu 14.04 to 16.04, so do no upgrade for now!


Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus beta 2 flavors download links and release notes: