Ubuntu 12.04 officially released
After six months of development the latest version of Ubuntu has been released.
As a ‘Long Term Support’ release Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will be backed up fixes and updates for the next five years.
Ubuntu 12.04 = Fast
The ‘P’ in the Ubuntu 12.04 codename (“Precise Pangolin”) could just as easily stand for ‘Performance’ as it does ‘Precise’.
Speed, once a rod used to beat Unity with, is now arguably its greatest strength; a yardstick by which other desktop environments may start to be measured.
This speed boost feeds into the entire OS feeling brand new. Ubuntu is fast, snappy and responsive. In fact this release is perhaps best representative of the “Unity” vision proposed by Canonical; everything from apps to environment feels cohesive in 12.04. Elements that were, in prior releases, half-finished or cumbersome to use now feel polished and intuitive.
Quicklists, for example, were one ‘feature’ of Unity that hadn’t been exploited by many of Ubuntu’s default apps until now.
The sluggish Banshee music player has been replaced by Rhythmbox – a change that Lucid-updaters won’t notice.This sports the integrated Ubuntu One Music Store for purchasing albums and tracks.
The latest versions of office suite LibreOffice, web-browser Firefox, e-mail clientThunderbird, and Instant Messenger Empathy are all included, with the latter introducing better support for video calling.
The Ubuntu One Control Panel has been revamped, and includes set-up, installation and other options all in one window. It’s not the prettiest of apps, but it is functional.
Ubuntu 10.04 upgraders will find an alternative photo-management application installed in the form of Shotwell. It, like Ubuntu One Control Panel, is not the most elegant of apps (something users migrating from a certain fruit-named OS will note) but it does the job well. It even supports exporting of images to Flicke and Facebook.
For Tweets and Facebook addicts the default “social client” (also obtusely referred to as ‘Broadcast’ in places) remains the faithful, if not overly appreciated, Gwibber.
The latest version of Unity boasts more than just performance gains.
There are new lenses, options and minor features for you to play around with – most notably of which is the new ‘App Menu’ searching tool ‘HUD’.
The HUD is called by a tap of the ‘Alt’ and is able to search entire application menus of the ‘in focus’ app – as well as provide swift access to features in the ‘Status Menus’ (networking, messaging, etc).
The ‘Home’ Lens that previously provided 8 giant shortcuts to applications and folders has been replaced with dynamic ‘activity overview’ – showing your most recently used apps, files, etc. You can control specifically what shows here by adjusting the newPrivacy settings available in System Settings.
Don’t like the size of the left-hand launcher? You can now quickly and effortlessly resize it via the Appearance pane in System Settings.
It’s small, trivial-seeming features like like this that gives Precise its polish.
You wouldn’t, for example, instantly notice all of the subtle tweaks to margins, paddings and dividers in the Dash – but subconsciously you do: those small paper-cut sized flaws have been patched over and healed.
Elsewhere you can find an overhauled Unity Greeter, which sports a tweaked UI, new animations, and user-account wallpaper matching.
The default theme of Ubuntu – Ambiance – has been updated, and sports a new ‘unfocused’ state to better help you differentiate between active windows and non-active windows.
There are also subtle changes to buttons, widgets, scrollbars, tabs, tooltips and more.
Enough with reading about how it is – you probably want to try it out.
Hit the button below to grab the .iso’s whilst they’re nice and hot – and be sure to read our list of 10 Things to Do After Installing Ubuntu 12.04 to get some post-install tips.
10 Things to Do After Installing Ubuntu 12.04
So you’ve downloaded it, you’ve installed it, and now you’re about to use it.
But before you dive on in to explore, be sure to take some time out to follow our bi-annual rundown of the best post-install tips and tricks.
1. Learn What’s New
There are a lot of new features in Ubuntu 12.04 – so take a few minutes out to learn about 10 of the best.
2. Check for Updates
Ubuntu 12.04 may be hot-off-the-press but that doesn’t mean a few last-minute bug fixes aren’t waiting for you already.
New updates alert will be listed in thePower Menu (the right-hand cog icon), although you can also manually check by launching the ‘Update Manager’ from the Dash.
3. Install Media Codecs
If you plan on listening to your music library or watching films in Ubuntu then you’ll need to have the necessary codecs installed.
For legal reasons Ubuntu can’t provide these ‘out of the box’, but the installer does offer to install them during set-up.
If you didn’t check that box during installation it’s no biggy: hit the button below to begin installation of the most common codecs through the Ubuntu Software Centre.
4. Customize your Desktop
There are 14 new wallpapers included in Ubuntu 12.04 – including an illustrated Pangolin and the usual stunning snaps of flowers, animals and landscapes. Rather neatly, the semi-transparent parts of Unity will change colour to compliment your set wallpaper – try it and see!
The Unity Launcher (the bar on the left hand screen) can be resized if you’re find it too big or too small.
And the ‘theme’ used by windows can also be changed to a lighter, elegant version.
All of these above (and a bit more) can be achieved through the Appearance entry in the System Settings.
5. Adjust Your Privacy Settings
When you first open the Unity Dash you’ll see an overview of your recent activity: apps, files and folders you’ve recently used, etc.
But you may not want all of this to stuff to show.
Well that’s easy enough to change: the new Privacy controls available in theSystem Settings panel offer you the chance to choose what is logged and what isn’t.
6. Set up Ubuntu One
Every user of Ubuntu is given 5GB of free online cloud storage with Ubuntu One -so be sure to make use of it!
Open the ‘Ubuntu One’ entry from theMessaging Menu (‘envelope’ icon) and follow the prompts to set up an account.
If you already have one then be sure to sign in so all of your music, photos and folders are safely in sync with your fresh-new desktop.
7. Explore New Apps
The Ubuntu Software Center is home to thousands of extra applications – from music players and web browser to accounting apps and games.
Some are good, some are bad – but it’s always worth browsing around to see if you can find something you like.
8. Grab Google Chrome (Or Flash)
“What?!!” you may scream, “Why not just use Firefox?”
Flash is the reason.
Earlier this year Adobe announced that it was, in effect, abandoning support of the ubiquitous Flash Player plugin on Linux. Google will, instead, be taking over the reigns, integrating Flash for Linux into their Chrome browser.
So if you want the latest stable and bug-free Flash player in Linux, Google Chrome is the only way to get it.
Not that bothered about the latest and greatest, or not interested in switching browser? No worries. The last independent release of Adobe Flash for Linux is available to install through the Ubuntu Software Center.
9. Install LibreOffice Global Menu
The default office suite in Ubuntu doesn’t not support integrate with the application menu bar by default.
To enable it (and add some consistency to your desktop) just hit the button below to install the necessary package.
10. Enjoy It!
Finally, to end on a corny note, take some time out to just enjoy using it.
Forget about finding and installing new apps for an hour or so and just use Ubuntu like anyone else would: check your Facebook or Google+ profile, chat to your mates on Empathy, type up that letter in Libre Office and listen to some music in Rhythmbox
Ubuntu 12.04 is a bold upgrade from 11.10, and an even bigger one from 10.04, so be sure to take some time to get used to it as it comes before changing anything major.
You might fear missing a certain application or feature, but most of the changes have happened for a reason: to make Ubuntu easier to use.
And, make sure you tell your friends about Ubuntu, of course!