It’s 10/10/10 and Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat” has been released. This release includes the new photo-management software Shotwell (replacing F-Spot), a tweaked default theme with the new Ubuntu font, an improved Software Center, and the new Unity desktop environment for netbooks. Read Canonical’s press release for more, and start your downloads.

Ubuntu 10.10 Unity interface

I installed 10.10 Beta on my netbook when it came out, but the Unity netbook interface turned out to be unusably buggy. Fortunately some updates mostly fixed the problems, and the final release works fine.

Installer

I installed the ISO onto a SD card using the standard Startup Disk Creator in Ubuntu. The Ubuntu installer has overhauled in 10.10. It now includes an option to install non-open source software for “MP3 playback, Flash content, wifi hardware, and similar functionality”, and options to install updates while installing, and it checks that you are plugged in, have enough disk space, and are connected to the Internet before starting.

The installer now asks for partitioning information early in the install process. This lets the installer run the partitioner and copy files while it asks for more information. I do think there should be more of a warning before the partitioning starts in case someone doesn’t expect this. If you run out of steps before the installer is done its work, you will get the new install slideshow.

The Unity Interface

The netbook edition now defaults to the new Unity desktop environment. If you don’t like it, you can still switch to the normal desktop from the login screen. Unity is based on GNOME 3 technology, including the Mutter compositing window manager.

When maximized, windows put their title bars and application menus in the new global menu bar, which also includes the system indicator applets. It’s a shame that the only old notification icon left is the network manager applet. It’s also disappointing that neither Firefox nor OpenOffice put their menus in the global menu bar properly.

On the left side of the screen is the Unity launcher. It shows a stack of application icons, one for every application that’s running or chosen to always appear for quick access. The icons stack up and scroll when there are too many, and everything is nicely animated. Clicking the icon of the focused application shows all its windows using a scale effect similar to Compiz’s.

The Unity dash can be access using the Ubuntu button in the top left of the screen, or using the “Files & Folders” and “Applications” icons in the launcher. The Ubuntu button gives you a full screen menu with big icons for a few tasks including “web”, “music”, and “get more apps”. “Files & Folders” gives you a simple file browser which isn’t too useful. “Applications” gives you a interface for searching and launching installed applications, as well as applications available in the Software Center. All the dash screens also include search. Searching seems to be a bit slow, and I wish I could select results using the keyboard.

Congratulations to everyone who has worked on Ubuntu for a great release!


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