The new release will be a Long Term Support (LTS) release so will likely be more conservative than other releases and consolidate on the many changes over the past year. LTS releases are supported for five years.
The first change in Precise Pangolin will be an increase in the size of the release, up from 700MB to 750MB, which will mean that the release will no longer fit on a CD but will need a DVD or flash drive during installation.
On the desktop the Unity interface is to remain. This is to be expected despite the fact that there have been numerous complaints about the new interface. For many the switch to the new Canonical-created Unity interface was forced on them at a time when Unity felt incomplete. But, over the past year the interface has matured significantly and Mark Shuttleworth is adamant that Unity will remain the default desktop.
Among the expected improvements in Precise Pangolin are improvements to the Ubuntu Software Centre. Over the past couple of releases the software centre has added a host of new features, including user ratings. Likely improvements will include plugin support, an option for videos and better support for application syncing across PCs.
The most ambitious plan of all, however, will be the attempt to reduce Ubuntu’s start time from around 10 or 11 seconds to just two seconds. If developers can do this it would be a massive achievement. Ubuntu’s start-up time has hovered around the 10 second mark for many years now. Cutting eight seconds off that is highly ambitious.
Although Unity will be the default desktop environment, Precise Pangolin will also ship with Gnome 3.2 as an alternative. Gnome 3.4 is scheduled to be released a month before Precise Pangolin but with this being an LTS release the developers will be more conservative than with other releases.
On the media player front Precise Pangolin will revert to Rhythmbox as the default. This will replace Banshee which was the default for a short while, but compatibility issues forced developers to switch back to Rhythmbox.
The primary focus of Precise Pangolin is on quality and both Mark Shuttleworth and Jason Warner, Canonical’s desktop manager, have emphasised the need for this 12.04 release of Ubuntu to polish up and complete the major platform changes that have been introduced since April 2010.
On his blog Shuttleworth wrote: “The nail-biting transitions to Unity and Gnome 3 are behind us, so this cycle is an opportunity to put perfection front and centre.”