Ubuntu 12.10 Alpha 3 unifies user menus
The Ubuntu developers have released the third alpha of Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal", the final release of which is scheduled for 18 October. This development release includes several changes over Alpha 2, which was released a month ago. These changes include a reworked session menu, improvements to the update manager and removal of the third party driver installation tool. Upstream changes to the Nautilus file manager have caused theming issues with the default Ubuntu theme, but the developers expect to have these fixed by the time the first beta release of 12.10 arrives at the beginning of September.
Ubuntu's session and the "Me" menu have been combined in this release, and several listings and options, such as the devices section, have been taken out. User testing had apparently revealed that many users were confused by which option was present in which of the two menus, so the developers decided to combine and simplify them. Ubuntu's update manager has now been renamed to "software updater" and has been streamlined to show less information, concentrating on what the developers deem the most important bits of information. The third party driver tool that allowed Ubuntu users to install proprietary drivers for their hardware, such as drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards, has been moved to a tab in the Software Sources dialog.
Changes to Nautilus from the upstream GNOME project have led to a somewhat unfavourable look for Ubuntu's file manager in this release. This is due to the GNOME developers streamlining its look and Ubuntu's default theme not yet being compatible with these changes. The developers are planning to address these problems in the upcoming weeks, however. Other changes in Nautilus include more evocative icons and the ability to reorder items in the side bar, the ability to choose between "copy to" and "move to" actions, the removal of the "Go" menu and more.
Ubuntu 12.10 Alpha 3 includes version 3.5.0 of the Linux kernel, Python 3 (Python 2 is available from the repositories but will not be installed by default), version 3.5.4 of the GNOME components, LibreOffice 3.6.2 RC2 and the latest beta release of Firefox 15. More details on the changes in this release as well as known issues with it are available from the distribution's wiki.
ISO images of Ubuntu 12.10 Alpha 3 are available from the Ubuntu web site for testing on 32- and 64-bit systems. The developers point out that this release is intended for testing purposes only and should under no circumstances be used on production systems.