Available in alpha form for the past several month, Canonical has officially released its newest version of Ubuntu, 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope). Canonical says it will maintain its latest open-source OS until 2010.
Ubuntu 9.04 brings a new kernel to the table, version 188.8.131.52, as well as several other features. Some of these include:
Faster boot time
Latest GNOME 2.26 desktop environment
Better handling of mutliple monitors
Latest X.Org server 1.6 with support for several new videocards
Wacom tablet hotplugging
Ext4 file system support
Brasero 2.26 (all-in-one CD burning application)
Also new to the latest version of Ubuntu is a Netbook Remix version. According to Canonical, the Netbook Remix brings even faster boot speeds, a "built-for-purpose interface" that keeps favorite applications and websites a click away, enhanced power-management features, and easier switching between networks. Canonical says it has tested its Netbook Remix version on a range of netbook models, including Acer's Aspire One, Asus' EeePC 1000, and Dell's Mini 9.
Following its rapid release schedule, eager Ubuntu fans need only wait until April 23rd for the next release of the open-source Linux distro. In the meantime, if a little over a month is just too long to wait, you can take a sneak peek at Ubuntu 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope, currently in alpha form.
The just released Jaunty Jackalope Alpha 6 is the fifth alpha release of Ubuntu 9.04 and includes several new features, along with a handful of known bugs. Among the former is a new X.Org server, version 1.6, better font-size optimization tailored to your monitor rather than defaulting to 96 dpi, new style for notifications and notification preferences, a new Linux kernel (2.6.28-8.26), and support for the new ext4 file system.
Keep in mind that as an alpha release, you should expect instability. Known issues include the disabling of the "encrypted home directory" option, video driver problems with the XServer, mis-reporting of proper font sizes resulting in abnormally small or large fonts, CTRL-ALT-Backspace is disabled, and users of Intel's i846 or i865 video chipsets receive an error message stating "Fatal server error: Couldn't bind memory for BO front buffer."
Before the most recent version of Ubuntu (8.10, Intrepid Ibex) was even released, founder Mark Shuttleworth was already looking ahead by introducing The Jaunty Jackalope, or what will later be known as version 9.04. That was just over two months ago, and now eager Linux users can take a peek at what the upcoming release has in store by downloading the distro in Alpha 1 form.
In continuing to bring Linux to the mainstream, Shuttleworth listedsome specific goals it hopes to meet with Jaunty. Chief among them is improving the distro's boot time, both in standard cases and "when it is being tailored to a specific device." But speed isn't the only improvement he hopes to make in 9.04. The new distro will also look to have tighter integration between web services and desktop applications.
Ubuntu users hoping to get a first look at Jaunty Jackalope can download the Alpha 1 release now, although developer Colin Watson warns that the pre-release isn't intended for anyone needing a stable system.
"This is the very first roughly working set of images off the production line, and they haven't all been tested, so you should expect some bugs," Watson wrote in the release announcement. "Prominent among these are that some of the images are oversized and can only be tested using a DVD or a virtual machine, and that the desktop CD isn't ready yet!"
The next major Alpha release is scheduled for December 18th, followed by additional pre-releases until the final version debuts on April 23.