Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1 Released

The first alpha of Ubuntu 11.04 has been released and features the biggest change yet to the OS since the stable release of Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick" months ago.

Dubbed as "Natty Narhwal," the big addition 11.04 offers is the inclusion of the just-released Unity desktop interface which will automatically load if 3D acceleration is enabled. The drawback is that the interface is still fresh and a work in progress, reportedly remaining quite buggy and rough. However users have the option of switching back to the classic Ubuntu desktop if Unity becomes a problem.

According to the Unity website, the UI is designed to allow for multiple implementations, and currently consists of a Compiz plugin-based visual interface only (which is heavily dependent on OpenGL). Previously using Mutter, the UI is reportedly smoother thanks to Compiz but is still only partially implemented into Ubuntu 11.04.

In addition to Unity, Natty Narhwal features an updated Linux kernel (now version 2.6.37 RC3) and Firefox 4 Beta 7. The indicator menu has also received a little make-over, adding Network Manager into the notify area, a Bluetooth icon (if the hardware is present), a battery icon which must be manually turned on, plus the typical sound icon and a Me Menu broken into two parts: setting up accounts and status.

Although the Unity interface brings an optional visual change, there seems to be very little difference between this alpha build and the solid release of 10.10. Those interested in checking out Natty Narhwal should burn the OS image and boot straight from the disc rather than install it on the hard drive-- save that space for a stable release.

To download Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 1, head here.

  • septentriones
    Narwhals, swimming in the ocean... Seriously though, Unity seems like a good idea. I hope it works better than it does in the netbook edition I have. It always seems to lag but I can see the little jump menus being useful and familiar to Windows 7 users.
  • chesterman
    i think that kernel version is totally wrong
  • marciocattini
    Very nice vid! Would be cool if you could tell us a little bit about kubuntu as well and if you had any hassles during the installation!
  • kronos_cornelius
    I tried Unity on a netbook. The UI was fast, but unfortunately buggy. So, I end up using Kubuntu 10.10.

    ATI still seems to have a problem keeping drivers easy to install and use. It has been this way for half a decade now. I installed them using the repository, using ATI binary, but none of them worked. In the end I left the repository one even though it did not enable OpenGL. I'll fight with it another day.

    Nvidia on the other hand worked right away. I have a netbook with ION graphics, and the propietary Nvidia driver install without much drama. I just followed the instruction and voila. The rest of the time I use to watch CUDA demos.

    So why buy ATI you ask. Well, not many times in my live have I seen a NO OS netbook being on the market. Asus 1215T on newegg (plug not intended).

    Alas, freedom from the MS tax !
  • guzz46
    So why buy ATI you ask. Well, not many times in my live have I seen a NO OS netbook being on the market. Asus 1215T on newegg (plug not intended).

    I have been using the open source ATI drivers on my laptop for a long time now (with a HD3200) and they work great, even running compiz.
  • dEAne
    thanks for the link.
  • coldmast
    Thanks to my graphics card drivers being in the AMD/ATI legacy bin (the community opensource drivers can't accelerate video playback, I can no longer get updates to newer kernals, FGLRX how I miss you.Currently there is NO support for 2.6.29 or newer kernels. :`(
  • kronos_cornelius: 2003 called, they want their drivers back. Please update yourself on the current state of both drivers before spewing out-dated drivel for public consumption. Circa 2010, it's now cool to praise the AMD drivers, and bash the Nvidia drivers. The tables have turned...
  • flightmare
    Unfortunately I'm one of those stupid people who don't like changes. I'm sure to give it a try. But I might aswell go with another desktop manager in the end.
  • Parsian
    ive been hesitant to install Maverick on my ION netbook after the reviews... I will give it some time.