The next major release of Ubuntu Linux will include both a 2D and a 3D interface. This is the latest news from the development team which is working on Ubuntu 11.04, otherwise known as Natty Narwhal.
The Natty Narwhal release of Linux promises to be a significant release in the growing list of Ubuntu releases as the Mark Shuttleworth-led development team pushes into new territory with the operating system.
Fans of the popular operating system will already know that the desktop in the new release will be significantly different from previous releases. Part of this will be the result of including the new Wayland graphics system. This new system for rendering the desktop graphics and applications is widely regarded as the correct way forward for Linux desktops but is still in early development. Wayland will replace the long-standing X Window system which was developed decades ago at a time when interface graphics were at a premium.
The other major desktop change for users will be the inclusion by default of the Unity interface. Ubuntu developers, like most other Linux distributors, have been waiting for the last year for the release of Gnome 3, the new version of this popular desktop environment. But the Gnome project has been dogged by problems and a stable release has still not emerged.
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has decided that rather than waiting for Gnome 3, it will develop and ship Unity, its own desktop environment. Originally developed for the netbook version of Ubuntu, Unity is a significantly different interface to the current Ubuntu default but if adopted happily by users it will give Ubuntu a uniqueness that is often lacking between Linux makers.
2D or 3D
Not only will Unity be the new interface for Natty Narwhal but Canonical will also be adding a little 3D bling to the desktop. The 3D effects planned for Unity are not surprising, given that everything from phones to television screens are heading this way. The thing that was concerning most users was that Ubuntu is regularly used on lower specification (or just plain old) hardware.
Canonical now says that a 2D interface version of Unity will also be available as an option for users that don’t have the graphics power on their machines to use the full 3D version.
The 3D version of Unity will be based on Open GL, something that not all lower-spec machines are capable of running correctly. The 2D version of Unity will be based on Qt/QML but according to Ubuntu developer and Canonical engineering manager Bill Filler, it will be the functional equivalent of the 3D version. He says that the only difference is that there will be a “richer set of visual effects … and tighter integration with the window manager (Compiz) for some really cool functionality and effects.”
Ubuntu Natty Narwhal is expected to be released as a beta version on March 31 and as a final stable release on April 28.
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