For the first major iteration of the Ubuntu Maverick development cycle, the DX Team is delivering a set of new features. These are divided into two groups.
- Unity, the new UI for netbooks, makes its formal debut with this release as the default interface for the Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE)
- Indicator work that is meant to work on both netbooks and desktops as well, including the GNOME and KDE desktops.
Cross-desktop single menubar
Meant to optimize vertical space usage on Netbooks, the single menubar hosts application menus directly on the top panel.
Modules are available to transparently support GTK+ and Qt applications. This way, no special code is required and standard applications can be used. Some important applications are using custom toolkits however, and for example Firefox or OpenOffice are not supported for this cycle.
The Unity panel supports the feature by default. But GNOME or KDE users can also use a special applet to display menubars on their favorite panels too.
More details on how to enable the feature by default and how to report bugs at DesktopExperienceTeam/ApplicationMenu.
Unity Files Place
Unity now comes with a simple way to access files, with the new Files Place. Clicking on the Ubuntu button now reveals the Places bar from which users can lookup files (and soon folders). Internally Zeitgeist is used to reference different objects (files, events) and let the user access content in a meaningful way (files of the day, of the week, etc.).
Sound menu v2
This sound menu is a rock star! (and his father a true musician, but that's a different story).
Featured in this first iteration of the sound menu v2, the menu becomes a category menu and can now regroup all sorts of sound applications.
Note: the rendering of the menu is temporary: this is an engineering release to demonstrate the integration of the different components.
Music players like Rhythmbox, Amarok and VLC register with the menu, and expose a simple remote control interface to play/pause and skip songs. Behind the scenes, the menu leverages the Ayatana protocols pioneered by the messaging menu and MPRIS, another Freedesktop proposed standard, adopted by a growing number of applications developers.
Prototype Network Menu, based on Connman
The new network menu interface is taking shape. The panel indicator reflects the online state, while its menu lets users connect to wifi & 3G networks. Not everything is supported, most error cases still require users to go under-the-hood, but it already makes a good job of keeping users connected to their favorite networks.
In particular, users are encouraged to help testing 3G support (list of 3G modems currently targeted and report bugs. A daily build of all of this new network access stack is available at: https://launchpad.net/~indicator-network-developers/+archive/daily-ppa
At the system level, we're working closely with upstream to contribute to the development of connman and ofono.
Improved Unity interface
Unity's Launcher improved to manage more applications at the same time: icons can now incline and animate to let users browse through a long list. The integrated Panel sports applications menubar to optimize the screen real estate. And several rendering refinement contribute to the visual quality of the user interface.
Missing features in Alpha-2
- ARGB support was still creating too many issues in Alpha-2 and so was removed. It will be back early in Alpha-3 with more application fixes. In all cases, a new blacklist feature let integrators disable ARGB support for select applications that are known not to work (proprietary code in particular)
- CSD (aka client-side decorations) is postponed to Maverick + 1. Technical discussions are continuing on ayatana-dev and with the rest of the community to revise the design of this feature.