Later today the Ubuntu team will release the fifth alpha release of Ubuntu 9.04, the latest release of the popular linux distribution. With a final release planned for April there is still much speculation as to what users can expect. What is for certain though is that this release will show the first signs of Ubuntu’s long-overdue desktop redesign.
The most obvious changes in Ubuntu 9.04 are likely to be cosmetic. Among these will be a new system notification system as well as a new login screen design. Already Shuttleworth has said on his personal blog that the new notification system was to be included in this release.
The new notification system, known as Notify-OSD, is designed to integrate better with the new Jaunty desktop and provide system messages across all applications and keyboard actions. So notifications for things such as volume control, network state and upgrade notifications will get a much slicker, less disruptive place in Ubuntu Jaunty.
The other change expected in Jaunty is a new login screen. The old, brown login screen will apparently give way to a new, mostly black login screen with redesigned graphics.
Both the new login screen and the notification system are small changes to the overall feel of Ubuntu but they are the first steps towards a new interface.
Announcing the Jaunty+1 release, Shuttleworth said that that release – to be called Karmic Koala – would have significant interface changes over previous releases. The changes to date are the first steps towards the new look.
Shuttleworth said that the Karmic "desktop will have a designer’s fingerprints all over it – we’re now beginning the serious push to a new look. Brown has served us well but the Koala is considering other options."