Ubuntu 13.04's "Final Beta" arrives
The only beta of Raring Ringtail, Ubuntu 13.04, has been released so that users and developers can get a preview of the next release of the operating system which should be released at the end of this month. Although it is sporting a Linux 3.8.5 based kernel, the file-modification aware Upstart 1.8, and more Python 3 support internally, Ubuntu 13.04 is somewhat light on features.
The most notable feature for users, Smart Scopes, is now missing in action. Smart Scopes is destined to expand the Unity desktop's Dash search capabilities from just the local filesystem, Ubuntu One's stores and Amazon, to include many other information sources. But despite filing for and getting a feature freeze exception to make it into 13.04, the Smart Scopes feature has been deferred until 13.10 because, according to Jono Bacon, it did not "meet the quality needs for Ubuntu". The loss of Smart Scopes also means that privacy enhancements due in 13.04 to give more granular control over what resources are searched also isn't included and users are left with 12.10's "all online resources" or "no online resources" switch.
Another feature that has been dropped is the Wubi installer. Wubi had not been updated on Windows 8 and a number of bugs in the installer meant that the decision was made to drop Wubi installation support from 13.04. It is unclear whether the feature will return in 13.10.
One feature that is appearing in the beta, albeit as a technical preview, is Upstart User Sessions. Disabled by default at the moment, Upstart User Sessions allow the Upstart system to manage a user's desktop session. It is unclear what the use case or future plans for this feature are, though.
The Beta 2 release is the first appearance of the Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 release since the remix became an official Ubuntu edition. This release includes GNOME 3.6, but a GNOME3 PPA will have a GNOME 3.8 preview also available. Unlike the previous version, GNOME Remix 12.10, Firefox is now the default browser, the Ubuntu Software Center and associated update manager are used instead of packagekit, and Abiword and Gnumeric are replaced with LibreOffice in the default installation. There were also bug fixes for the China-centric Ubuntu Kylin and the other remixes.
As with all development releases, the Ubuntu 13.04 release should not be used on production systems or with mission critical or other important data. Most notably, a number of testers have fallen foul of an install time issue reported last year where existing Linux installations or partitions can cause the installer to crash.
The Ubuntu 13.04 Beta 2 Desktop and Server images are available to download. Details of how to upgrade to the beta and where to download other editions' beta 2 ISO images of Ubuntu are available in the Raring Ringtail Technical Overview.