Ubuntu 11.04, the 'Natty Narwhal' is now out marking the first release of the popular Linux distro in 2011.
The 11.04 release provides new features for both desktop and server users as well as new cloud technologies. The Natty release also provides the most visible change to the Linux desktop in years with the new Unity interface. For Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu, the 11.04 release is a big step forward in its effort to help attract Windows users over to Linux.
"For Windows users, all of the attributes of Ubuntu, including the security, fast boots and the stability, are things we take into Ubuntu 11.04." Gerry Carr, marketing manager at Canonical, toldInternetNews.com. "What was missing before and stopping us from getting more into the mainstream was a complete and compelling, different experience for PC users."
The new Unity interface is Ubuntu's take on what the next-generation Linux desktop shell should look like. Ubuntu split with the broader GNOME desktop community on the interface issue, rejecting the GNOME Shell approach that other distros, including Red Hat and its Fedora Linux, are taking.
The Unity interface, however, is not for everyone. Unity requires users have graphics hardware acceleration to support the system. For those that choose not to use Unity, Ubuntu 11.04 also provides the 'Ubuntu Classic' experience. Carr noted that the Ubuntu Classic provides what is essentially an older GNOME 2.29 interface in 2D.
Carr noted that Canonical will be serving the Ubuntu 11.04 web version from the Amazon cloud. The service will be able to support up to 800 concurrent users at any one time.
The next Ubuntu release is currently scheduled for October and will be codenamed the Oneiric Ocelot.