Ubuntu 10.10 almost ready for you

Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat 10.10 Release Candidate

Canonical announced the availability of the only release candidate and the last developmental release before the Meerkat goes gold. Ubuntu 10.10 is due for release on October 10. Design has been the watchword around Canonical this cycle, resulting in lots of cosmetic changes. Will they be celebrated or spurned?

Most folks will probably notice the new theme first. The new wallpaper update came after negative reactions to the one shipped in the last beta. This updated version has been well-received. It's a precursor to dynamically morphing wallpaper planned for a release or two down the road. The default theme has received some attention since last release and comes in light and dark versions. The installer has gotten some user-friendly graphical updates, shortened installation time, and a new slideshow as well.

The Ubuntu Software Center has gotten lots of updates and changes since 10.04.  It is much prettier now with attractive backgrounds, and it has also added things like application menu location, more user-friendly application descriptions, plugin support for things like OneConf integration, application microblogging support, a history tab, and a paid software category and button. Support for direct handling of Debian package format (.deb) has also been recently added. Additionally, a new Extras repository has been added to house brand new applications not included in the current release as well as "What's New" and "Featured" categories.

Canonical has been working on a few fonts for their operating systems for the past few months, and they have received lots of positive feedback.  the new Ubuntu font is being advertised as a Libre font and released under a temporary Ubuntu Font Licence. It's an attractive font and easy on the eyes, with several distinguishing characteristics. The new Ubuntu font will be set as default, and the new default size has been increased to 11.

The volume slider has been replaced by a full featured Sound Menu. It will adjust your sound volume, and it will feature application controls as well. For example, when Rhythmbox is opened, it will now appear in the Sound Menu as well as a rewind, fast forward, and play buttons along with music track information and, of course, the volume slider. This feature has been quite popular with bloggers.

Application and system decisions are final at this point. For example, Shotwell is the new image manager replacing F-Spot while Firefox, Rhythmbox, Evolution, and OpenOffice.org have survived. Btfs has been scrapped leaving Ext4 as the default filesystem, Upstart has seen some tweaks, and i686 is the lowest CPU denominator.

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