elementary OS Freya Beta has been announced by its developers and it comes with an Ubuntu 14.04 base and lots of new features.
elementary OS developers are not fond of making development releases, but the community has been very eager to try the new operating system, especially if we take into consideration the fact that the previous version, Luna, registered a huge success.
As you can imagine, there are quite a few changes and improvements over elementary OS Luna, including the Linux kernel from Ubuntu 14.04, the 3.13 stack. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
“Freya inherits core components from Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS such as the Linux kernel (version 3.13), hardware drivers, and graphics stack. This includes support for EFI stub-loading, which is a kernel feature that enables booting directly from (U)EFI, without the need for an additional bootloader such as GRUB. Ubiquity does not yet have support for this configuration, but one of our developers has created a guide for a GRUB-free install of Freya on modern Mac computers using rEFInd.”
“Additionally, we're shipping the latest stable GTK+ release, 3.12, rather than Ubuntu 14.04's outdated 3.10. This beta release brings a number of new features including new widgets and an improved GtkCSSProvider. Vala has been updated to version 0.24 bringing an incredible number of new bindings to elementary OS including Gstreamer 1.0, GeoCode, and more,” noted the developers in the announcement.
elementary OS developers are supporting Facebook, Fastmail, Google+, Microsoft, and Yahoo account integration by default. This is done with the help of Pantheon Online Accounts, a new tool that combines features from Ubuntu Online Accounts and GNOME Online Accounts and brings its own improvements.
The Slingshot menu has also received some important changes and the search function is now powered by Synapse plugins. This is just the beginning and only one plugin has been integrated until now, but more are soon to follow.
Another major difference between elementary OS and its base, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, is the adoption of GTK+ 3.12. The system from Canonical is still using GTK+ 3.10, which is rather old, but the one used by elementary OS allows users much more freedom and enables them to use client-side decorations, which is a cool new feature.
This is still a Beta release, which means that users will probably notice bugs with the operating system. The release date remains unknown, but that is not something new. The developers never provide a release date and they usually take their time until they are satisfied with the result.
You can get more details about this release in the announcement. You can also download the 32-bit and 64-bit version of elementary OS Freya Beta from Softpedia.
Remember that this is a development version and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended for testing purposes only.