Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) is out. By now there are a zillion reviews of it already, but I wanted to take a little more time to use it before writing one of my own. Before I get into this review, I want to be clear that I’m not going to be reviewing Unity. By now most people know what it is, and either like it or don’t. There really isn’t any point in complaining about it any more. If you hate it then do not use Ubuntu, just find another distro.
Each time Ubuntu does a new release; it uses an animal nickname. This time around it’s called “Precise Pangolin.” I had no idea what the heck a pangolin was so I googled and found this (for those of you who are interested, if not just skip to the What’s New section):
A pangolin ( /?pæ???l?n/), scaly anteater, or trenggiling, is a mammal of the order Pholidota. The only one extant family (Manidae) has one genus (Manis) of pangolins, comprising eight species. There are also a number of extinct taxa. Pangolins have large keratin scales covering their skin and are the only mammals with this adaptation. They are found in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The name “pangolin” derives from the Malay word pengguling (“something that rolls up”).
Pangolins are nocturnal animals, and use their well-developed sense of smell to find insects. The long-tailed pangolin is also active by day. Pangolins spend most of the daytime sleeping, curled up into a ball.
For more information about pangolins, see this book:
There’s also a cute statue of a pangolin if you’re really into them.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
Linux Kernel 3.2.14
Rhythymbox is the default music player
Quicklist support added to Unity
Software Center improvements
Ubuntu One gets a Control Panel
The HUD is an alternative to clicking around on menu items when you want to do something. Just hit the ALT key and you can start typing in a search term related to whatever it is you want to do. If you’re a dedicated mouse clicker, this might seem a bit slower than just clicking an icon. Once you get used to doing it, you will find that it can be much faster. Keyboard junkies will revel in it right from the start though, they’ll get to skip farting around in menus completely.
The HUD isn’t an earth shattering new feature, but it grew on me as I used it more and more. I tend to like having icons handy to click on, so if I grew to like it then I suspect other clickers will probably do the same once they get used to it. Who knew the ALT key could be so useful?
To use the Video Lens, just click the Dash icon then click on the video icon at the bottom. Or just access the video lens via the quicklist on the Dash icon. This lens will be a huge help to anybody who keeps many videos on their Ubuntu systems. You can also get online search results for your video searches for sites like YouTube, etc. For example, I did a search on the term “how to skin a squirrel” and got back a bunch of results from YouTube.
The HUD and the Video Lens are the two most notable new features in this release. But some of the other things are worth noting as well.
The Nautilus quicklist support makes it very easy to hop around to Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures or Videos. You can also open a new window or hop to your Home folder.
The switch to Rythymbox will please some and displease others. If you prefer to use something else, you’ll find alternatives in the Ubuntu Software Center.
The Software Center has gotten some improvements. I’ll cover those in the software section on the next page.
Ubuntu One has a new control panel that adds an installer, folder & sync management, and a setup wizard.
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:
- While the minimum memory requirement for 32bit is 384 MB, a minimum of 512 MB is needed for the 64bit installation. On systems with only the bare minimum amount of memory, it is also strongly recommended to use the “Install Ubuntu” option as it uses less memory than the full live session.
- The Ubuntu 12.04 installation image does not include support for old computers that do not support PAE. If your computer is affected, you can either first install Ubuntu 10.04 or 11.10 and upgrade to 12.04 or you can use the Lubuntu or Xubuntu images. The non-PAE version of the Linux kernel will be dropped completely following the 12.04 release.
Ubuntu 12.04 Download
You can download Ubuntu 12.04 from this page. The ISO file weighed in at 735.4 MB.
If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox, VMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop.
You have the option of downloading Ubuntu 12.04 in 32 bit or 64 bit. There’s also a Windows installer available (with instructions), and you can opt to buy CDs if you’d rather do that than a download.
As you might imagine, installing Ubuntu 12.04 is about as easy as it gets in Linux.
You also have the option of trying Ubuntu 12.04 as a Live CD (burn it to a CD and then boot into that CD) before actually installing it. Note also that you can choose to download updates and install third party software during the install (as shown below in the screenshot). I recommend that you do so, to save yourself time later on.
You can also watch a slideshow that will demonstrate some of the features found in Ubuntu 12.04.
I really like the Nautilus Quicklists. The Dash icon and the Home icon both have them, and they are quite useful. Click the Dash or Home icon, and you’ll see a list popup as shown in the screenshot of the Home icon below.
You can quickly navigate to various Home folders, or you can access any of Ubuntu’s lenses. It’s much faster to hop around than it was in previous versions of Ubuntu.
I wouldn’t even bother accessing the lenses by clicking the Dash icon and then moving my cursor to the bottom of the page to click on a lens icon. Doing it that way feels like swimming in molasses compared to the quicklist.
The system settings menu has gotten a few tweaks. Appearance is the new name for the User Interface icon. There are also dividers and category names on the system settings menu. Overall the changes probably make the system settings menu slightly more intuitive and appealing to most users.