Every time there is a new Ubuntu operating system released, it can be a bit tricky to differentiate the new features from the old ones. While the GUI changes are quite apparent and each time the Unity launcher looks more stylish, there are some very basic features that one can easily overlook. Previously I brought you the New Features of Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, and later the process to Upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04. Now it’s time to explore what new features Precise Pangolin has in store for us.
At a glance Ubuntu 12.04 might not look all that different from 11.10, except for some minor GUI changes, however a lot of changes have been made to stabilize Unity and to make it easier to use. Some of these changes include support for multiple monitors, better Dash search which is no longer completely dependent on Zeitgeist, and of course, who can forget the HUD. For those of you who might not know about the HUD, it is the new start menu that lets you find the actions that you want to perform, without the need to manually go through menus. Other changes that may not appear to be all that apparent include, integration of Ubuntu Software Center with Unity which has made it a lot more stable.
Head-Up Display (HUD)
HUD is an optional start menu, which eliminates the need to click through menu items. You can bring up the HUD by hitting the ALT key and begin typing to initiate a search. This way you can get a list of functions without even remembering the menu in which they reside.
Lens have always been a great way of enhancing Ubuntu functionality. Other than the built-in Unity lens, There are a number of third-party lens that you can use to add additional search options to Unity, such as the Gwibber Lens, AskUbuntu Lens, Unity Bookmarks Lens, etc. This time around, Canonical has added a unique lens to Ubuntu known as the Video Lens. This lens is meant to make it easier for users to locate videos that they wish to watch. To search for video from your local drive or via the internet, click the video icon in the Dash and type the required video’s name to initiate your search. You can also check out some third-party Unity lens here.
Ubuntu Software Centre Enhancements And Software Recommendations
The Ubuntu Software Center has now been revamped with Unity integration to deliver better functionality. Moreover, the Ubuntu Software Center now provides personalized recommendations for software. In order to acquire this feature, you will have to click “Turn On Recommendations” option, which is located at the bottom of the interface. It is also worth mentioning here that to enable this feature you will have to login with your Ubuntu Software Center account (Ubuntu One or Launchpad account).
The Zeitgeist engine now logs whatever you do on your computer, which includes accessed files, the websites that you visit, and a record of your conversations. This Activity Log is saved on your local computer and is provided to desktop applications, in order to allow apps to give users a more customized experience.
Change Privacy Settings
The above mentioned feature is likely to cause some privacy concerns for users. This is why a a Privacy Panel is available for changing privacy settings, which is located in “System Settings”. The Recent Items tab displays your recent history, whereas the Files tab can be used to enable or disable logging for instant messengers, audio and video files, presentations, visited websites, emails, text, images and spreadsheets. Likewise, the Applications tab allows adding apps to exception so that they are not longed. The Diagnostics tab can be used to send error reports to Canonical.
Ability To Change Unity Launcher Settings
The Appearance Panel now has better options, including the option to change the size of application icons on the Unity launcher. This previously required the use off third-party tweaking applications. Similarly, another handy option can be found on the Behavior tab, which allows customizing the Unity auto-hide feature.
Previously, many applications required third-party applications and tweaks to get Quicklists, however Ubuntu has improved its Quicklists for a number of applications and added new ones for apps such as Rhythmbox.
New Ubuntu One Design
The Ubuntu One design has been revamped and it now uses the QT toolkit.
Mono Applications Removed
Ubuntu 12.04 has dropped Banshee and replaced it with Rhythmbox as the music player. Tomboy has also been removed from the default installation.