Canonical has announced the availability of the Ubuntu 10.10 beta release. The new version of the popular Linux distribution, codenamed Maverick Meerkat, is scheduled for final release in October. It brings some noteworthy user interface improvements and updated software.
The beta ships with GNOME 2.31, which introduces support for the new dconf configuration storage system. Ubuntu’s standard F-Spot photo tool has been replaced by Shotwell, a relatively new application that is developed by nonprofit software group Yorba. Although it’s not as feature-complete as F-Spot, it’s progressing quickly and has a lot to offer.
Canonical has continued its work on panel indicators, especially the audio indicator which now has playback controls in addition to a volume management slider. This will eliminate the need for individual audio applications to have their own notification area icons.
Work has also continued on the Ubuntu Software Center, which now promotes “Featured” applications and has a section for purchasing commercial third-party applications. The look and feel of the Software Center is more refined and aesthetically sophisticated.
The Ubuntu Netbook Edition has seen particularly dramatic improvements during this development cycle due to Canonical’s work on the new Unity user interface. Unity, which was initially introduced in May, has matured very rapidly. It has a global menubar that works surprisingly well.