Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal (Alpha 1) Preview
It is going to be a while before Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal comes out. But it didn’t deter us to take a peek inside Canonical to get a glimpse of what lies ahead for the Ubuntu lovers. We took Ubuntu Natty Narwhal Alpha for a test drive to see whats cooking, if you also want to try it out, you can download an image from here. Remember this is an Alpha release, so it nowhere near to what the finished product would be and is certainly not for the faint of heart or for any production machine. Try it at your own risk! Also you cannot use Unity in a Virtual machine without getting the 3D acceleration going.
At present the installer and the included media is the same as that used for Maverick which is of course expected to change in coming months.
As expected Gnome has been replaced with Unity as the default desktop manager, and is certainly undergoing some serious development. To know more about Unity that was shipped with Maverick, see here. Unity when installed under Maverick didn’t support the cool desktop effects that Compiz offers, also it was clearly geared towards its use on Netbooks. The effort is underway to integrate compiz effects in Unity for Natty, this was clearly evident in the use of desktop switcher which has changed. If you have tried Unity for Maverick you would remember that the workspace switcher was restricted to four (using a 2×2 grid) workspaces and there was no apparent way of changing it. Looks like all this is going to change.
The menu system is also going to get a major overhaul. At present clicking on the tiny Ubuntu icon at the top left corner opens the Applications folder (/usr/share/applications) and it sort of vaguely reminds of the way applications are launched in Mac OS? I am under the impression that Canonical is going to come up with a whole new, streamlined, more efficient, menu system. Clearly the Gnome menu was still living in the stone age and any improvement in this direction is more than welcome.
The Alpha 1 includes Firefox 4 beta as the default browser, and other application suit is more of less identical to that seen with Maverick. We would have to wait for Beta and then RC to get a better picture of what other goodies get unleashed by Canonical. Would Natty Narwhal be a step in the right direction, taking Linux distro to new heights? Lets wait and watch.
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