There is no significant changes in Ubuntu Desktop for the past two years. Only few feature improvements, software updates, different set of wallpapers have been included in the older versions such as Ubuntu 15.10, 15.04, 14.10 and 14.04. This is because Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, was giving too much time for Ubuntu touch.
However, Ubuntu 16.04 is having much attention lately in the community. First of all it is a LTS (Long term support) version with LTS Kernel. Yes, the Kernel 4.4.x which is going to be included in the final release is also a LTS version.
Wait there is more. In this brief tutorial, let me cite a few major changes in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS desktop.
1. Unity's online search feature is disabled by default
This is one of the controversial feature and many security experts have criticized Canonical for revealing the user's search terms to third party companies. Whenever you type a term in the Unity search bar, you might notice that there is number of other items will also present in the result. This is because your search terms will be sent to Canonical and other third party servers, and the relevant items will be displayed in Unity search result.
In Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, this feature is disabled by default, but not removed permanently. You can enable it if you want. Check our previous guide for more details.
2. Ubuntu software center has been replaced with GNOME software
The other notable change is Ubuntu software is going to be dropped in the final release and is replaced with good-old GNOME software center. You can use GNOME software center for installing, updating and removing packages in Ubuntu 16.04 and upcoming versions.
3. You can now upgrade your firmware from the OS itself
From Ubuntu 16.04, you can upgrade your hardware firmware right from the OS itself using GNOME software.
4. A new QML-based USB Startup Creator tool is coming
Ubuntu developers are also working on a new QML-based USB startup creator tool for making Live USB drives. It is not just for Ubuntu images or Ubuntu-related images, but also for other distribution's images as well.
For more details check the developer's Google plus page.
5. Users can now drag items without holding the mouse button
Another cool feature is click-lock. Using this feature, you can click and move a file or folder around without having to hold the mouse button. You might notice this feature in Windows operating system. But, it is coming to Ubuntu operating system as well. The developers are working to bring this feature in the forthcoming Ubuntu 16.04 LTS version.
6. ZFS file system has been added to the repositories
ZFS is a popular file system for file storage, and it's the default file system for storage-oriented operating systems like FreeNAS. Some of Linux distributions have moved to the ZFS file system a while ago. Now, Canonical has also decided to included the ZFS file system by default in Ubuntu 16.04. As you probably know, Ubuntu 15.10 had already included ZFS file system as a technology preview, so that you can install it using apt-get command. But from version 16.04 it is not necessary, ZFS will be included by default.
For more details, check the following blog post of Dustin Kirkland, the member of Canonical's Ubuntu Product and Strategy team.
7. Unity launcher can be moved to the bottom of the screen
As you might noticed in the previous Ubuntu versions, you can't move Unity launcher from the left of the screen. But in Ubuntu 16.04, you could easily rotate and place the Unity launcher at the bottom of your desktop.
For more details, refer the following link.
8. Change App menu visibility in Unity panel
Ubuntu 16.04 will ship with a new feature - App menu visibility.
Check the following screenshot when I hover the mouse pointer over Unity panel. the App menu is visible.
And here is when I keep the mouse pointer aside, there is no App menu.
You can change this settings by navigating to System settings > Appearance > Behavior.
Check the following screenshot.
The new "Menu visibility" setting has two options:
- Displayed on mouse hovering
- Always displayed
The first option is enabled by default for new installations.
If you want to make make menu visibility permanent, just check the option "Always displayed". You won't find this option in the previous Ubuntu versions such as 15.10, 15.04 etc.
Apart from these changes, Ubuntu team team is working on other things such as,
- Brasero (disc burning tool) and Empathy (messenger) are not going to be included in the final release.
- Bringing snappy packages to the Unity 7 desktop.
- A new plymouth boot splash theme is being upgraded.
- And more yet to come.
I can't assure that all changes are going to be implemented in the final version. But, Ubuntu team is working hard to get these things done. Let us wait till April 21st, 2016 and see what they are going to bring on the table.
I will be covering more news about Ubuntu 16.04 in the days to come. Till then stay tuned with OSTechNix.