The first beta release of Canonical's next Ubuntu Linux distribution, version 10.10 'Maverick Meerkat' is now available and promises a more refined desktop and netbook experience in preparation for the final release in October.
Meerkat will arrive six months after the previous 10.04 release dubbed 'Lucid Lynx' and is aiming to be a "Perfect 10”, according to Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth.
For the 10.10 desktop edition, the GNOME desktop environment has been updated to the 2.31 version and the Evolution groupware suite is version 2.30, which is said the be much faster compared with the version the previous release, 10.04.
Shotwell has replaced F-Spot as the default photo manager and microblogging tool, Gwibber, has been updated to improve performance.
The Ubuntu Software Center gets an updated look and feel and the Ubuntu One cloud service is better integrated in the to the desktop integration with a new authentication process.
Ubuntu is also pushing ahead with its netbook interface with this release. Ubuntu Netbook Edition has the new Unity interface as the default. The developers say this interface is better suited to netbooks.
At the core the beta includes Linux kernel 2.6.35 including patches for improved multi-touch capability, audio and microphone issues and other driver updates.
The new btrfs file system is an option during installation and the Maverick beta kernel has decommissioned support for the ia64 and Sparc architecture ports - a decision made by the Ubuntu Tech Board.
The 10.10 release will also include enhancements to Ubuntu for cloud deployments and starting with this beta, cloud images can be run outside of an Amazon EC2 or Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) instance environment.
“This will allow you to quickly and easily test function in cloud-init or other features of the image without needing to start a new instance,” according to Canonical.
The Ubuntu KDE release, Kubuntu, will be upgraded to KDE SC 4.5 for Meerkat and the desktop and netbook interfaces into one image featuring the Plasma Desktop and Plasma Netbook workspaces.
The appropriate workspace for your machine will be launched at login, you can also change the workspace in System Settings, according to Canonical.
The Plasma Netbook interface now has the Global Menu by default, which sits at the top of the screen.
The default Web browser for Kubuntu is now Rekonq, a browser based on Qt Webkit and the new KDE bluetooth stack Bluedevil is installed. Pulseaudio will be the default sound server to match other Ubuntu variants.
Kubuntu's Ubiquity installer has an updated look and layout.
Ubuntu 10.10 'Maverick Meerkat' is slated for release on 10 October, 2010.