Ubuntu 15.04 “Vivid Vervet” entered its Final Freeze period on 16 April 2015, which means the release is locked down and it is unlikely new features will be added before it launches on 23 April.
During Final Freeze, only critical bugs or exceptional circumstances will be considered for alteration.
A number of significant changes made it into Vivid, including a change in the initialisation system, a new version of the Linux kernel, upgrades to the Unity desktop manager, and updated applications.
Many of these changes won’t be noticeable, but for serious PC users there is some debate around the changes Vivid Vervet brings to Ubuntu.
Beginning with Ubuntu’s controversial desktop manager, the new version of Unity introduces an option to have “locally integrated” application menus displayed at all times, rather than only when the mouse is over the app.
This means Ubuntu is returning to more Windows-like application menus that are displayed within the borders of the app itself rather than more Mac-like approach of having a global menu at the top of the screen.
There is still one difference between Windows and Unity, however: the application menu appears in the title bar of an application, rather than below it.
Unity 7.3 also enables the Dash, HUD, and logout dialogs over fullscreen windows, and tweaks animations for faster startup and shutdown.
An update to the graphical side is an update for Compiz that fixes problems that occur when using Nvidia’s proprietary drivers.
The Ubuntu team said Compiz 0.9.12 introduces fully-integrated support for the MATE desktop that is on par with Gnome 2 and Unity.
Kernel and init system
In addition to upgrading to the Linux 3.19.3 kernel, Ubuntu has controversially decided to move from upstart to systemd.
Systemd and upstart are “init managers” – software that starts up other software critical to running a Linux-based computer.
The developers of systemd describe it as a “suite of basic building blocks for a Linux system.”
If all goes according to plan, most users won’t notice this change.
Ubuntu has also announced that new versions of LibreOffice, Firefox, and Chromium will be available on Vivid.
LibreOffice 4.4 promises a number of improvements, including improved change tracking in Writer, improved shapes, and support for a number of new multimedia formats including .ra, .rm, .dv, .ac3, .opus, .asf, and .m4a.
Firefox is updated to version 36 and Chromium is updated to version 41, while Ubuntu has updated the Pulseaudio sound system to version 6, which it says paves the way for a move to Bluez5 next release.
Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet launch
Those interested in Ubuntu 15.04 can download the beta version of the operating system from the Ubuntu website.
The final release version of Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet is set to launch on 23 April 2015.