Canonical Release Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”

Apr 28, 2011 by

Following three alphas and two betas, Canonical have announced the release of the latest version of their popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, version 11.04, codenamed “Natty Narwhal”.

11.04 brings a slew of changes, chief amongst which is the scrapping of the GNOME desktop interface in lieu of the in-house developed “Unity” interface. Unity features a dock like application launcher along the left hand edge of the screen and a global menu bar, similar to the one in Mac OS X. Users can pin frequently used applications to the dock, or use it to cycle between open applications. When the dock becomes filled with icons, you can scroll through them by moving your mouse towards the top or bottom of the dock. It also features context menus accessed by right clicking on the applications icon in the dock, allowing applications to have customised options. Users can also launch the so called “dash” by pressing the super (Windows) key. The dash is similar to the dashboard in Mac OS X, and offers quick access to a file browser and an application search.

What’s new in Ubuntu 11.04? from Canonical Design on Vimeo.

Instead of having individual menu bars for each application, the settings for the active window can be accessed via the global menu bar in the top left corner, very similarly to Mac OS X’s menu system. The global menu bar auto hides and pops up when the user moves the mouse pointer to the top of the screen.

The Unity interface requires 3D capable hardware to be taken full advantage of. For users with older, non-3D compatible hardware, a “classic” desktop is available, which is similar but not identical to the old GNOME 2 desktop of previous releases.

Natty Narwhal includes the latest release of the Firefox web browser, 4.0, version 2.0 of the Banshee media player and LibreOffice 3.3.2 as the default office suite, replacing Open Office. Other package updates include X.org 1.10.0 and Mesa 7.10.1, version 0.9.2 of the Shotwell photo manager and version 2.13 of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing client Transmission.

Improvements have also been made to the Ubuntu Software Centre, includin the addition of support for ratings and review. Canonicals cloud based storage service “Ubuntu One” has also received updates, such as support for selective syncing and a launcher icon that can display sync progress.

Netbook images of Ubuntu for machines with ARM processors have also been made available. The ARM version of Ubuntu ships with a 2D version of Canonical’s Unity interface by default. Information, including known issues, about the ARM version of Natty Narwhal can be found on the Ubuntu wiki.

Users currently running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS or 10.10 on a desktop system can upgrade by pressing Ctrl+T and typing update-manager -d into the terminal. Users running versions of Ubuntu that are earlier than 10.04 LTS will need to upgrade to 10.04 LTS first. The next major release following Ubuntu 11.04 will be 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot”, scheduled to arrive in October 2011.

You can download the image file if you want to do a fresh install from here.

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