After months of anticipation by Linux fans around the world, Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" made its long-awaited debut on Thursday.
"11.10 continues Ubuntu's proud tradition of integrating the latest and greatest open source technologies into a high-quality, easy-to-use Linux distribution," wrote the Ubuntu project team in the release announcement early this morning.
Available in 38 languages, the free Linux operating system from Canonical can now be downloaded from the Ubuntu site. Users of Ubuntu 11.04 will be offered an automatic upgrade to 11.10 via the Update Manager, but more information about upgrading is available online as well.
Standard maintenance updates will be provided for Ubuntu 11.10 for 18 months, through April 2013. The next Long Term Support version of the software will be Ubuntu 12.04, or "Precise Pangolin," which is due in April.
The video below provides a nice overview of Oneiric Ocelot's new features.
A smoother Unity
The previous Ubuntu release--version 11.04, or "Natty Narwhal"--was nothing if not controversial, largely because of its inclusion of the mobile-style Unity interface as the default desktop shell.
As a result, much of the anticipation of the new Oneiric Ocelot has focused on Unity, and in particular how it has changed since then. As I reported earlier this week, it has been significantly refined as a result of extensive user testing, with a particular focus on usability.
GNOME 3 is also included in Oneiric Ocelot, however, as is the 2D version of Unity.
Open for business
Finding and installing software using the Ubuntu Software Center is now easier as well thanks to improvements in speed, search functionality, and usability, while the software has also been made more aesthetically appealing, the project team says.
I'm particularly excited about the inclusion of Thunderbird for email and the new Deja Dup backup tool, which will help ensure that backups don't get forgotten.
The server version of Ubuntu 11.10, meanwhile, has been designed to make it easier to provision, deploy, host, manage, and orchestrate enterprise data center infrastructure services, and the new technical preview for ARM servers brings a whole new architecture into the Ubuntu fold.
Indeed, "Ubuntu 11.10 is open for business," Canonical says, with a complete set of tools for business desktops, servers, and cloud, and the option of full-service support and consulting.
20 million strong
Offering a no-cost, feature-packed alternative to Microsoft Windows and other operating systems, Ubuntu is already used by 20 million people around the globe, according to Canonical.
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Ubuntu, and I'm excited to download and check out this new release. If you've been considering making the switch to Linux, there's no better place to start.