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Ubuntu 14.04 reaches final beta, download available

Ubuntu 14.04 reaches final beta, download available

Ubuntu 14.04 is edging closer than ever, with the final beta just being released. For the next Long-Term Support release, there are a surprising number of new features that made its way. Ubuntu 14.04 is set to be released on April 17, and will be supported for 5 years until April 2019.

So what’s new this time round?

Ubuntu developers are usually very conservative on adding new features to Long-Term Support releases, but 14.04 will be quite an exception. There are some great new features that make the next release very compelling.

ubuntu-local-app-menusApplication menus

Since Unity was introduced in Ubuntu 11.04, application menus have always remained in the same spot at the top, but without controversy. Some users prefer to have menus appear closer to the foreground application in the manner they were prior to Unity.

Starting in Ubuntu 14.04, users will be given an option to change whether application menus reside at the top as they currently do, or within the title bar of the foreground app window.

You might think having menus within the title bar of the foreground app might get in the way of doing the usual task of moving a window around, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised. They are cleverly designed so there is a very quick (unnoticeable) gap between clicking a menu and the menu drop-down appearing in case you intend to move the window instead. Click on the image to the right to see it in action.

Minimise on click

Perhaps the most requested missing feature is the ability to minimise an app window by clicking its Launcher icon. Prior to 11.04, clicking the application in the taskbar would either restore or minimise a window. This behaviour disappeared when Unity arrived; clicking on an application in the Launcher will either simply restore the window if minimised, or show the app window spread if multiple windows are open for any particular application.

For Ubuntu 14.04, “minimise on click” has been added, albeit in an “unsupported” manner. Canonical has implemented the feature through CompizConfig Settings Manager, which is a separate application users will need to download via the Ubuntu Software Centre.

Window spread

Improvements have indeed been made to window spread over the last several Ubuntu releases, and they’re about to get even better in Ubuntu 14.04. Can’t find the app window you are looking for? Simply start typing the title of the app window you are looking for within window spread. Each keystroke you enter will narrow the displayed windows depending on which app windows match your search term. This will make it even easier to instantly find the window you are looking for. See it in action below.

 

unity-lock-screen

Unity lock screen

The lock screen has finally been given the Unity treatment, and has the same visual interface and polish as the Ubuntu login screen. The new lock screen uses smooth transitions and is extremely well implemented.

 

Applications

As with every new release of Ubuntu, all the default applications have been updated, including LibreOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird; and some default GNOME applications have had their application menus restored. On the topic of restorations, some users will be pleased to hear Nautilus, the default file manager in Ubuntu, now has “type-ahead search” once again. Type-ahead search allows you to immediately start typing to find the nearest file or folder matching the search term in the current active directory.

Ubuntu 14.04

You can try the final beta for yourself by downloading it here. While it is a rock solid beta release, it is still a pre-release so we’d suggest you use it for testing and evaluation purposes only.

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