Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal, has been released

The first version of Ubuntu for this year has been released. It is dubbed Natty Narwhal or for easier date reference 11.04. Check out the release naming scheme on the Wiki that includes the history of this naming convention. But in all seriousness the main new change is that they have changed to the Unity as the desktop environment instead of Gnome. This brings a refreshed look to this Linux distribution as well as providing added functionality. Check out OMG! Ubuntu’s guide to Natty Narwhal and Ubuntu’s own “What’s New” page.

Summary for UI changes as well as naming convention:

  • Unity: a new desktop environment which could be described as the desktop / user interface that the user sees when they log in. It is comprised of the Launcher, the Dash and the Panel
  • The Launcher: This seems more like OS X’s dock than WIndows task bar. You can launch applications from from it and open windows should shown in the launcher
  • The Dash: similar to the Window’s Start button (or now the Windows button), this will allow you to look through and launch any application installed
  • The Panel: situated at the top of the screen, this acts as a global menu bar just like OS X, but also integrates with other applications through the indicator area (similar to Windows’ notification area)

Go try it out and download it now. You don’t even have to install it, just burn it to a CD or install it to a USB drive and boot straight from it to see how your hardware handles it. For the computer enthusiast there is no reason not to give Ubuntu a try and delve into the world of Linux.

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