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07 September 2012, 10:28

First beta of Ubuntu 12.10 released

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Ubuntu logo The first beta version of Ubuntu 12.10, code-named "Quantal Quetzal", has been released for testing ahead of its October final release. The new version brings together a range of enhancements the developers have been working on, from reducing the number of install images, to making 3D accelerated desktops run on non-3D hardware, and switching to Python 3.0.

The release comes in new "consolidated" 800MB images, which are designed for USB or DVD installations, and reduces the number of images available from three to one, with the alternate installer and separate Mac installer being dropped. The alternate image supported full disk encryption and LVM configuration, functions Installer Screenshot
Zoom Full disk encryption and LVM support are now available from the standard installer
that are now handled in the consolidated image; support for the alternate image's software RAID configuration has been deferred to Ubuntu 13.04.

Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1 uses a Linux kernel which is based on the recent 3.5.3 Linux kernel, the current stable version of Linux 3.5. Unity 6.4 provides the desktop on the beta and includes support for dash previews and a "Cover Flow" view. Unity also runs with a development version of Compiz, which works with OpenGL ES 2.0, allowing it to run on "mini-computers" such as the PandaBoard.

Package upgrades include the recent 3.6.1 release of the LibreOffice productivity suite, which has built-in Unity menubar and HUD support, and "most of the components" from GNOME 3.5.90, the beta version of what will become GNOME 3.6. The Update Manager has also been streamlined and renamed to Software Updater.

Unity 2D – introduced in Ubuntu 11.10 for systems without 3D/OpenGL hardware acceleration – is no longer included. In line with many other distributions, standard Unity will always be run, but where there is no hardware acceleration, it will use the Mesa 3D LLVMpipe driver which emulates a GPU on the CPU. The other open source 3D graphics divers are preliminary versions of Mesa 3D 9.0, due for release in October, which supports OpenGL 1.3 and includes support for AMD Trinity processors and some other recently released graphics chips. The X Server is a pre-release version of the recently released X Server 1.13 with improved support for hot-pluggable and hybrid graphics hardware.

Unity and Nautilus screenshot
Zoom The Nautilus file manager is being held at version 3.4 in Ubuntu 12.10
Ubuntu 12.10 is using the older 3.4 release of the Nautilus file manager instead of version 3.6 because of recent controversial design changes, and only Python 3 is included with the desktop image of Ubuntu; Python 2 was previously included by default. For programs based on Python 2, it will continue be available from the repositories.

There are several known issues with the beta including crashing bugs related to the service that manages device colour profiles, missing LibreOffice menus under non-Unity sessions and booting to a black screen on systems with ATI Radeon 9200 graphics cards. Users are reminded that use in production environments and on mission critical systems is not advised. Users testing the release are encouraged to provide feedback and report any bugs that they find.

Further information about the release can be found on the Beta 1 Technical Overview page, while an overview of planned features for Ubuntu 12.10 is provided on the Blueprints for Quantal page. ISO images of Ubuntu 12.10 Beta 1 are available to download for 32- and 64-bit systems from the project's site; alternatively, users can upgrade from 12.04 to the beta by pressing Alt+F2 and typing update-manager -d into the command box.

According to the project's release schedule, the beta release will be followed by a second beta on 27 September, with the final release arriving on 18 October. The current stable release is Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS, the first point update to the Long Term Support (LTS) edition of the distribution.

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