What is New in Ubuntu 17.10, the Artful Aardvark

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The next release of Ubuntu, the most commonly used and thought of by normal people and a few others version of Linux, is set to be released on Thursday, October 19th. The exact set of changes and improvements is not known, but a few key ones are, and some can be guessed at from the multiple pre-release releases.

This is a momentous occasion because this will be the first version of Ubuntu’s main flavor that does NOT include Unity as its default desktop.

If you don’t know, Unity was a menu and control system for the desktop, your main interface when working with the computer other than, obviously, while using a particular application. It was the look and feel, the essence, of the operating system. Unity was supposed to unify things, like diverse features of a typical desktop, like Ubuntu running on a cell phone, a desktop, a laptop, a whatever.

Unity used a modus operendus that many other interfaces were shifting towards. I hear there are versions of Windows that looked a bit like this, and Gnome from version 3.0 onwards had this basic approach.

This was a shift away from a style of interface that first emerged with early Linux desktops like Xfce and its variants, and which Windows users got to see on Windows 2000. It was a good, easy to use, intuitive, hard to break, and stay out of the way system. The Unity approach was supposed to stay out of your way too, but it did that by getting giant, in your face, making decisions for you, being extremely complex in its supposed simplicity, and in its earlier version, automatically looking stuff up you might want to buy while you were searching, say, for a file on your hard drive. All very non-Linux like.

So, let me say “I told you so” this one time, and note that Unity is dead. Now, the default Ubuntu desktop interface will be a current or recent version of Gnome. Which is a little, but not much better. The far better interface, in my view, is the one that forked off the earlier Gnome when it was still Gnome 2-something. This is called Mate (pronounced Mah Tay, like the obscure Australian plant).

Anyway, this will be the first post-Unity release, and I applaud Ubuntu for realizing that Unity had to go, and for moving on. Must feel good.

The version of Gnome to go with the Artful Aardvark will probably be Gnome 3.26.

The Ubuntu default desktop’s Gnome will be slightly modified, and will include a “let me sell you stuff on Amazon” button. Removing this will be on the list of things to do after installing Ubuntu 17.10 (stay tuned for that).

Since Gnome will be Ubuntu’s default desktop, there will no longer be a separate flavor of Ubuntu for Gnome.

There are a lot of details under the hood you probably don’t care about, such as Wayland as the default display with an optional X.org session, P:robaabl LInux kernel 4.14 (or 4.13), etc.

Mozilla Thunderbird will probably be left off. There will be improvements to the network manager, blue tooth, and better support for video cards, with improved multi monitor abilities. The windo control buttons default position will move to the other side of the window from where they were before. I tend to move them to where I want them, and mine ar on the top right, as will be 17.10’s, so I guess I moved mine recently.

Look for a post coming up soon on how to upgrade (for some of you) and later, what to do after installing it!


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