These release notes document new features and changes from a user's point of view in Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala". Please note there are also the official release notes documenting known issues.
Look and Feel
The look and feel of the boot process has been revamped and provides a completely new user experience. While the boot screen uses XSplash and provides a dark brown animation, the login screen from the Gnome Desktop Manager (gdm) integrates into the new design and provides a persistent user experience.
Firefox 3.5 focusses on privacy features. It ships a "privacy mode" that can be (de-)activated by the shortcut CTRL-SHIFT-P. During a privacy mode session no modifications are permanently written to the Firefox history/cookie store. All settings during a privacy session are temporary and removed when leaving the privacy mode.
Besides there is also the possibility of removing a time based range of your browser history from the cache and url history, e.g. the last hour, four hours or a whole day.
Firefox 3.5's rendering engine has been improved so it can display pages remarkable faster than in Firefox 3.
Empathy replaced Pidgin as the default chat client in Ubuntu Desktop. While still being able to install Pidgin, you are encouraged to try the slim and clean Empathy messaging client, that integrates well into the Ubuntu Desktop by using the Telepathy framework. Empathy supports all widely used messaging protocols.
Empathy offers you video and audio chat. The current version comes with the ability to zoom video chats into full screen mode and a redial feature, making it easier to reconnect.
Users are now able to share their desktop with Empathy contacts using the GNOME Remote Desktop Viewer, Vino.
The default e-mail program in Ubuntu, Evolution, ships in version 2.28. Besides a bunch of bug fixes the following new features and enhancements are ...
the Google calendar interface has been rewritten to support the Google CalDav interface instead of the unmaintained Google API interface,
- date formats are configurable,
- local ICal files can be selected as calendar sources,
- the calendar cache has been improved,
- the attachment bar has been rewritten,
Gwibber is an open source microblogging client for Gnome. It supports Twitter, Jaiku, Identi.ca, Facebook, Flickr, Digg and more.
Gwibber was first introduced to Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty in version 0.8. The new version 2.0 comes with a broad set of new features and changes.
The user interface has been restructured. You can choose between the old single column view and a configurable two column view. The two column view provides a folder like view for accounts including handy "virtual folders" for replies/retweets and private messages. A handy search bar enables you to find posts quite fast. The new Tomboy interfaces enables you to save messages directly to the Tomboy notes applet.
Canonical launched a personal cloud storage service called "Ubuntu One". It provides you with 2Gb online space for free or a 50Gb plan for 10 USD per month.
Ubuntu One automatically syncs all files stored in the folder "~/UbuntuOne" to and from the cloud and allows to keep multiple machines in sync.
A pre release could already be used in Ubuntu Jaunty. The new version for Karmic Koala 9.10 adds the following features:
- sync of Tomboy notes (you need to set this up within Tomboy's sync settings),
- online access to Tomboy notes,
- sync of Evolution's address book,
- online access to address book,
- configurable bandwith limit for the sync client to prevent a slow down of the network when syncing larger files.
More information about Ubuntu One on https://one.ubuntu.com/
The Network Manager has been cleaned up. It now focusses on the most important settings while hiding seldomly used settings. This should help beginners and average users to use the Network Manager more efficiently as you need to make less decisions e.g. when joining a wifi network.
Gnome 2.28 in Ubuntu 9.10 includes the first release of the GNOME Bluetooth module to help users manage their Bluetooth devices. GNOME Bluetooth supports hundreds of Bluetooth devices, including mice, keyboards and headsets. GNOME Bluetooth includes PulseAudio integration for Bluetooth headsets and headphones.
GNOME Bluetooth also includes support for Internet access through your mobile phone. After pairing your mobile phone with GNOME Bluetooth, Network Manager will include an entry to use your mobile phone for Internet access.
Better graphics drivers
You now get accelerated graphics with multiple persons logged in, and you can also show 3D graphics while using Compiz.
Advanced graphical disk tool
Better sound configuration
A new and easy sound configuration panel allows you to set different volumes for different applications and move sound output between different soundcards (like the built-in soundcard and a USB-headset).
Hamster Time Tracker
OpenOffice.org is the standard application for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, flow charts and local databases in Ubuntu. The current release ships version 3.11 of OpenOffice.org, providing some decent new features and enhancements.
OpenOffice.org 3.0 (shipped with Ubuntu 9.04) introduced notes in documents as a starting point for collaboration. The current version extends these by enabling users to reply to notes.
The grammar checking system has been improved.
Behind the Scenes
Canonical announced that a boot in 10 seconds is the goal for the next Ubuntu release 10.04 "Lucid Lynx". While the current release takes longer than 10 seconds different changes have been made to the boot procedure already reducing boot time and preparing the 10 seconds goal:
The "Grub Legacy" boot loader has been replaced by "Grub 2" by default. "Grub 2" is a complete rewrite of Grub and focusses on modularity and portability. Besides a claim for more robustness it features
- scripting support,
- a graphical interface,
- dynamic loading of modules,
- portability for various architectures,
- real memory management,
- modular framework for file systems, files, devices, drives, terminals, commands, partition tables and OS loaders,
- rescue mode saves unbootable cases,
- fixed design mistakes from GRUB Legacy.
Please note: If you are upgrading from an earlier Ubuntu version, your "Grub Legacy" won't be upgraded to "Grub 2" by default. There is a short tutorial explaining a manual upgrade: http://www.ubuntu-inside.me/2009/06/howto-upgrade-to-grub2-on-ubuntu-jaunty.html
More information about "Grub 2" on http://www.gnu.org/software/grub/grub-2.en.html
More daemons like the gdm Gnome Display Manager have been switched from classic init scripts to upstart shortening their run time due to parallel runs.
Ubuntu 9.10 ships with the latest release of the Gnome Desktop (version 2.28).
Ext4 by default
Ext4 is the new default file system with enhancements for server and desktop usage:
- partitions can have with a maximum size of 1 exabyte,
- single files can grow towards 16 terabytes,
- a directory can contain up to 64.000 subdirectories,
- file systems checks are faster as unallocated space is marked as such,
- overall speed improvement.
Linux Kernel 2.6.31
The new kernel 2.6.31 is ready for USB 3.0. The first USB 3.0 devices just hit the market.
Improved desktop interactivity under memory pressure
The kernel is now able to keep the system more responsive under memory pressure on desktop systems.
The "Computer Janitor", an application for cleaning up outdated packages, has been improved by showing more detailed information about packages to be removed and should therefore be more safe to use than earlier.
The Migration Assistant is now able to migrate data from OS X and Windows 7.
More application profiles are delivered, e.g. for NTPD, the Gnome Document Viewer and libvirt, making it possible to put KVM and Qemu virtualization into a sandbox.
iScsi support has been improved so the root file system can now be placed on an iScsi target device.
Ubuntu Software Center
The "Add/Remove Software" has been replaced by the new "Ubuntu Software Center". The Ubuntu Software Center increases usability by providing screenshots, a better structure and is open to new software license models:
Simpler menus and buttons
To simplify the interface, in a new Ubuntu installation or user account, most menu items and text buttons no longer include icons by default. Menu items representing objects such as applications, files, bookmarks, or disks still use icons. (OpenOffice.org has not yet been updated to reflect this change.)
These sources have been used while writing this release note wrap up. Please note: These sources are not official Ubuntu ressources. Some of already them featured upcoming changes in Karmic a while ago and might therefore not be up to date. Nonetheless they have been a great support.
GNOME 2.28 release notes: http://library.gnome.org/misc/release-notes/2.28/index.html