The next release of Ubuntu Linux promises to be packed with cool features as developers look to improve mobile computing
With the release of Ubuntu Hardy Heron now behind us most eyes are turned to October when Intrepid Ibex, or Ubuntu Linux 8.10, will make its debut. While Hardy Heron was designed to be stable enough to be a long-term support release, Intrepid Ibex promises to be packed with more exciting features.
Among those changes are likely to be a number of mobility improvements as well as more flexible Internet connectivity. On the desktop there is also likely to be a refreshed desktop theme which has been in the pipeline for the past two releases.
Announcing plans for Ubuntu 8.10 earlier this year Ubuntu chief, Mark Shuttleworth, said that "a particular focus for us will be pervasive Internet access, the ability to tap into bandwidth whenever and wherever you happen to be. We want you to be able to move from the office, to the train, and home, staying connected all the way".
Seamless Internet connectivity has always been a challenge on Ubuntu Linux, particularly for users moving between the home, the office and the road. Over the past two releases the WiFi capabilities of Ubuntu have improved a lot – roaming mode was long overdue – but switching between connections is still annoyingly difficult. Improvements in this area alone will make Intrepid welcome.
Another issue high on the agenda for developers with this release is desktop scalability. While Ubuntu has a very strong desktop support base, it is equally at home on servers and mobile and even embedded devices. Over the past year both Ubuntu and the Gnome project, the default desktop for Ubuntu, have announced mobile versions of their software. In all likelihood Intrepid will be the first Ubuntu release to see some of the benefit of that work filtering through.
Earlier this year Shuttleworth said: "Our desktop offering will once again be a focal point as we re-engineer the user interaction model so that Ubuntu works as well on a high-end workstation as it does on a feisty little subnotebook. We'll also be reaching new peaks of performance – aiming to make the mobile desktop as productive as possible."
Also to be expected with Intrepid is a new desktop look which has been in the development for the past year. The new look was meant to debut in Hardy Heron but was held back.
Also on the desktop, the timing is right for OpenOffice.org version 3.0 to be included in the Intrepid release so long as the planned September release date for OpenOffice is met. OpenOffice 3.0 includes a number of new features, from better document support to spreadsheet collaboration, that will make it a more compelling office suite.
New versions of Ubuntu Linux are released every six months.