September 06, 2011, 4:19 PM — Just a few weeks following the official feature freeze on Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot," the first beta version of Canonical's free and open source Linux distribution was released on Sept. 1.
That means we're just a few steps away from the widely anticipated final version, which is due on Oct. 13. One more beta version will make an appearance before that point--it's scheduled to be released on Sept. 22--but in the meantime, this first beta release offers a good feel for what Oneiric Ocelot will be like.
It's not intended for production use, of course, but you can download the new beta version from the Ubuntu site and play with it to your heart's content. Here's a quick rundown of some of the changes and key features you'll find.
1. A Smaller DVD Image
In response to community feedback over the last few cycles, the DVD image of Ubuntu 11.10 has been slimmed down to a more manageable size of 1.5GB. Included in the new image are all the language packs as well as applications including Inkscape, GIMP, PiTiVi and LibreOffice. Those no longer included on the DVD are still available from the archive, the Ubuntu developers note. The traditional CD image, meanwhile, is still available as well.
2. Ubuntu Core
Also new in this beta release is a set of images called Ubuntu Core. As the name suggests, these images include just the essential part of the software and are intended for use as the basis for customized Ubuntu distributions and products.
3. Improved 32-Bit Compatibility
Oneiric Ocelot now enables "multiarch" support for installing 32-bit library and application packages on 64-bit systems. So, users of AMD64 machines can now install select 32-bit software--including Skype and Flash--directly using the same 32-bit packages that are used on i386 installations, no extra compatibility software required. "For users this means 32-bit libraries will always be available at the same time as their 64-bit counterparts, even in the case of security updates, and users will only need to install those 32-bit libraries needed by the applications they have installed," the Ubuntu team explains.
4. Interface Updates