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Canonical Releases ‘Precise Pangolin’ Beta

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Ubuntu 12.04 is the first long-term release to use the Unity desktop, and includes power-saving and hardware support tweaks

Canonical has released the first of two planned beta-test releases of Ubuntu Linux 12.04, nicknamed “Precise Pangolin”, the first long-term support (LTS) release to use the controversial Unity desktop, with other new features including power-saving technology and clickpad support.

Ubuntu 12.04 will get one more beta release on 29 March before the final release, scheduled for 26 April.

HUD

The release marks the debut of the new Heads-Up Display (HUD), a Unity feature introduced in January that uses a pop-up dialogue box offering relevant menu options. With this version HUD is enabled by default. Canonical has also made it easer to configure Unity via the Appearance panel in the OS’ system settings.

RC6, a technology allowing GPUs to go into a very-low-power consumption state when the GPU is idle, is now enabled by default for systems using Intel Sandy Bridge chips. Canonical claims this can save 40 to 60 percent on power usage in some scenarios.

The OS now supports clickpads, where the button is integrated into the surface of a trackpad. These include the clickpads used in Apple Macbooks, which are recognised automatically, along with most Synaptics clickpads, Canonical said.

New kernel

The beta includes the 3.2.0-17.27 Ubuntu kernel, based on the version 3.2.6 of the upstream stable Linux kernel, Canonical said.

It includes an update to LibreOffice, version 3.5, and switches to Rhythmbox as the default music player.

This LTS release will be supported for five years on the server and the desktop edition, the first time the desktop has been included in long-term support.

Canonical also released betas for other Ubuntu variations including Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Mythbuntu, Edubuntu, Lubuntu and Ubuntu Studio.

The company last month introduced a new version of Ubuntu that will run on Android-powered smartphones. The installation will allow handsets to use Google’s OS while on the move and then, when the smartphone is connected to a bigger screen, switch to Ubuntu for its full desktop capabilities. Both operating systems will run simultaneously on the device, sharing the same kernel, with seamless exchange of contacts, messages and other common services.

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