By Alexandra Burlacu | Apr 25, 2013 08:54 AM EDT
Ubuntu 13.04, codenamed "Raring Ringtail," is officially out and it's a good, solid release touting great improvements in terms of graphical performance and more.
Canonical boasted on several occasions that its Ubuntu distribution is the most popular choice on Amazon's EX2 public cloud. Now, the company seems keen on ensuring the operating system also works on private clouds that run hypervisors from VMware and Microsoft.
Canonical's Ubuntu 13.04 is the latest version of the company's popular Ubuntu Linux distribution that's becoming increasingly favored in the server and cloud market. The firm touted Ubuntu 13.04's support for VMware's ESX and Microsoft's Hyperv hypervisors, and said it worked with both VMware and Microsoft to ensure that the underlying hypervisor properly supports virtual machines running the latest version of Ubuntu.
"Today's release of Ubuntu 13.04 on the desktop brings a host of performance and quality improvements making it the fastest and most visually polished Ubuntu experience to date," reads the press release. "Performance on lightweight systems was a core focus for this cycle, as a prelude to Ubuntu's release on a range of mobile form factors. As a result 13.04 delivers significantly faster response times in casual use, and a reduced memory footprint that benefits all users."
On the other hand, Ubuntu fans might be in for some disappointment with this new release: most of the big new features planned for Ubuntu 13.04 did not make it in this version, but were instead pushed back to 13.10, which is slated for October. Features that did not make it in this version include the planned Smart Scopes feature, which aims to bring 100 different search providers to the Unity Dash. Smart Scopes would allow users to search everything from websites such as IMDb to their own browser bookmarks. Ubuntu developers deemed this feature too unstable for 13.04, so they pushed it back to 13.10.
The SmartScopes setback, in turn, brings a secondary drawback: the planned improvements to Ubuntu's privacy settings. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth previously promised that future releases would bring more privacy controls and an easy way to opt out of individual search tools, but Ubuntu 13.04 brings no such thing. Just like Ubuntu 12.10, Raring Ringtail's privacy panel only offers the option to turn on or off the "include online search results."
One of the best features of Ubuntu 13.04, meanwhile is the new Photo Search Lens in the Unity dash. This option not only includes the photos users have in Shotwell, but also any images they uploaded to Facebook, Flickr or Google. However, Photo Search Lens will only work if users turn on the "show online search results option," which will again bring a host of Amazon results.
Leaving new features aside, Ubuntu 13.04 brings a noticeable speed improvement. Unity received lots of criticism in the past for its high-end hardware requirements and slow performance, but the new version is now considerably faster.
This release also adds more customization possibilities to the Unity Launcher, including an optional Desktop button to reveal the desktop. One item, however, is now absent from the launcher: the Workspace button. While this was removed by default, users can still turn it back on in the preferences section. Although it was shunned from default, the Workspace button did receive improvements as well to show users which workspace they're currently handling.
Overall, this release may seem most notable for what it doesn't bring than what it has to offer. Ubuntu 13.04 lacks the promised Smart Scopes feature, the privacy features, the Music Store in Rhythmbox, the Gwibber app and more. Despite these notable absences, however, Ubuntu 13.04 is a good and solid release nonetheless.
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