A few minutes ago, the second Alpha version of the upcoming Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system was made available for testing by the Ubuntu developers. As usual, we've grabbed a copy of it in order to keep you up-to-date with the latest changes in the Ubuntu 11.04 development cycle.
What's new in Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2? Well, lots of things are new in this second Alpha release of the upcoming Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system, but the most important change is that the old OpenOffice.org 3.2 office suite from Oracle has been finally replaced with the new and lightweight LibreOffice 3.3 open source office suite from The Document Foundation. Moreover, Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 is powered by Linux kernel 2.6.38 RC2 and all the main packages are now built with Python 2.7.
"This kernel update includes the official inclusion of the '200 line patch' which improves responsiveness for some workloads. It also brings a major update to the VFS, RCU dentry handling, which is slated to improve filesystem performance particularly with parallel loads. There are a bunch of updates for graphics which should extend support to new cards and extend 3D to more cards too. There as always is a ton of driver updates which should bring more devices into support. This kernel brings support for some previously unsupported ACER SD card slots."
Another interesting change in Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 is the replacement of the Rhythmbox audio player with the Banshee media player 1.9.2 application. The Network Manager applet has now support for appindicator, and Mozilla Firefox 4.0 Beta 10, Transmission 2.13 were made available in this testing release.
Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 includes X.org Server 1.10, Mesa 7.10 and X.Org 7.6. This means that it now provides support for Sandy Bridge graphics, better 3D support for ATI AMD Radeon hardware, support for more OpenGL extensions and better multi-head functionality.
Last but not least, the Ubuntu Software Center received the highly anticipated "Ratings and Reviews" feature, which will allow any Ubuntu One/Ubuntu Single Sign On user to submit reviews and ratings for available applications. The user reviews can be shared on Twitter or Facebook, via Gwibber.
Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 Server Edition also received a few important features, such as the new Powernap 2.0 application, which uses a new method to reduce power consumption up to 14 percent in most cases. Powernap 2.0 can also monitor system activity (load, process IO, processors), user activity (Console, Keyboard, Mouse) and network activity (WOL (wake-on-lan), TCP ports, UDP ports). Mcollective and Cobbler are also available in Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 Server Edition!
What's new in Kubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2? Well, the second Alpha version of Kubuntu 11.04 is build on top of the newly released and breathtaking KDE Software Compilation 4.6.0 environment. Kubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 also features Phonon GStreamer backend, GTK Oxygen theme, udisks/upower systems (HAL replacements) and lots of games.
What's new in Xubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2? Well, the second Alpha version of Xubuntu 11.04 has a brand new and modern desktop theme called "greybird", which features a launcher panel, a new layout, the Droid font and the elementaryXubuntu icon theme. Xubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 is build on top of the recently released Xfce 4.8 desktop environment. Menus are now editable in Xfce 4.8!
"The Xfce open source desktop is out with its first major update in two years this week. Xfce 4.8 brings the low-resource desktop into the modern era and provides usability improvements across the board. "Xfce 4.8 is our attempt to update the Xfce code base to all the new desktop frameworks that were introduced in the past few years," The Xfce development team wrote in a statement. "We hope that our efforts to drop pieces like ThunarVFS and HAL with GIO, udev, ConsoleKit and PolicyKit will help bringing the Xfce desktop to modern distributions."
On April 28th, 2011, Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) will become the fourteenth release of the Ubuntu operating system. See you again in exactly one month (March 3rd), for the third and last Alpha version of the upcoming Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system.
The Natty Narwhal Release Schedule:
December 2nd, 2010 - Alpha 1 release February 3rd, 2011 - Alpha 2 release
March 3rd, 2011 - Alpha 3 release
March 31st, 2011 - Beta release
April 21st, 2011 - Release Candidate
April 28th, 2011 - Final release of Ubuntu 11.04
Download Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Ubuntu Server 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Ubuntu ARM 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Kubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Xubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Edubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Ubuntu Studio 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Download Mythbuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 (Natty Narwhal) right now from Softpedia.
Remember that this is an alpha release and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended to be used for testing purposes only. Please report bugs to the Ubuntu Bug Tracker.