In preparation for an October launch, Ubuntu has released a beta of version 7.10 (aka Gutsy Gibbon) for testing. Here’s a look at what the new version has in store.
If you’ve got a supported GPU, one of the first things you may notice on booting up Gutsy Gibbon is that Compiz Fusion desktop effects are now enabled by default. No longer considered experimental in the Linux world, features such as the Compiz cube and wobbling windows are now standard for Ubuntu.
You’ll also get GNOME version 2.20, which includes a host of cool new updates. An improved version of Evolution sports enhanced mail and calendar features, new mail notification in your notification area keeps communication flowing, the image viewer now gives you quicker access to important picture specs and better browsing abilities, the text editor (gedit) is smarter and easier to use, and the file manager now automatically orients image thumbnails correctly. One of my favorite fixes is that GNOME keyring now automatically unlocks when you log into the machine, eliminating a small but repetitive annoyance for wireless notebook users.
At long last, Ubuntu includes desktop search by default. Combined with the Tracker indexer, Deskbar gives you instant search results and quick access to common tasks. You also get fast user switching like that found in Mac OS X, which is great for use on family machines or shared company systems.
For those who are tired of having to edit xorg.conf to reset their monitor resolution, Gutsy Gibbon now has dynamic screen configuration to detect your display automatically (which it should have had long ago). It also now includes a graphical configuration tool for your desktop, making it easy to configure multiple displays and tweak graphics settings.
The list of tweaks to Ubuntu 7.10 is long, but some of the other highlights include improved power management, the AppArmor security framework, and better handling of non-free device drivers (Broadcom chips, anyone?).
To check out the latest Ubuntu beta, head over to http://www.ubuntu.com/testing/gutsybeta .