October 2013 will see the release of the next iteration of the Ubuntu Linux operating system. There are plenty of features coming down the pipeline, some of which have caused great controversy with the Linux world. Even with the surrounding controversy, Ubuntu Linux continues to be one of the most popular Linux desktops available.
But what will the Saucy Salamander release offer the user that might help make them switch? Let's take a look and see.
What we know
Kernel: 3.11 RC5
Desktop interface: Unity 7. Unity Touch will be arriving in Ubuntu 14.04, but Ubuntu 13.10 will continue with the current implementation of Unity. There will be plenty of bug fixes and some new features added. The two biggest features for Unity 7 will include Smart Scopes (100 Scopes to empower searching through the Dash) and In-Dash Payments (which allow you to search for things like music and then pay for them directly from their In-Dash search results). Unity will also enjoy a few new indicators to make the experience even better.
Smart Scopes: As I already mentioned, Smart Scopes will finally ship. This has been a feature surrounded by controversy. When you open the Unity Dash and enter text, the Dash searches in various locations for results; the locations include your desktop, external drives, Amazon.com, and more. But with Smart Scopes, the results will come from 100 different locations. Of course, the user can define what locations to leave out from the results. Here are just a few Smart Scopes locations:
- Chromium bookmarks
- Dev Help
- Files and folders
- Google Drive
Compiz: A 'trunk' version of Compiz, called Compiz 0.9.10, will include a number of patches and performance tweaks that should make the desktop much faster and smoother.
Mir: Although the finished version of the full-blown Mir isn't planned until the next LTS release (14.04), there will be a version of Mir using XMir to run Unity 7. Mir will only be made available for cards that use the standard drivers. For cards that rely on proprietary drivers, the current X server will be used.
Locally Integrated Menus: These might ship in 13.10. Locally Integrated Menus are sort of a hybrid between the HUD and standard menus -- a drop-down menu that resides on the Panel (for maximized windows) and in the window decoration (for un-maximized windows).
Video driver changes:
The following video driver changes may arrive in 13.10:
- Nvidia Optimus support
- Nvidia Prime support
- Radeon UVD support
- RadeonSI support
- Proper touch screen support
Look for the following software changes with 13.10:
- Although it was rumored the Chrome would become the default browser, Saucy Salamander will ship with Firefox as the default
- LibreOffice 4.1 will be the default office suite
- Rhythmbox will be the default music player
- Thunderbird will be the default email client
Another feature that may arrive in Saucy is “Click Packages.” This is primarily aimed at developers to make it easier for them to get their Ubuntu packages with no dependencies between applications, no maintainer scripts, and each app will be installed in its own directory. Click Packages is based on technology Debian has used for over 20 years, so it's proven.
Although there are a number of users up in arms about the change to Mir and the ever-present concerns about Smart Scopes and security (which is a non-issue, as each scope can be disabled), Ubuntu 13.10 looks to be a very solid interim release that will do a great deal to make way for the next major iteration of Ubuntu … 14.04. Though you may consider this a bridge between the old and the new Ubuntu, 13.10 should be worth trying.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.