The next version of Ubuntu, called Precise Pangolin 12.04 , will be released in April of 2012. An early development version has already hit the streets. It is available for Ubuntu users to download and test. The upcoming release of Ubuntu will be a Long Term Release (LTS). This means that the operating system will be supported for five years. This is an increase from the usual three years for Ubuntu desktop releases.
The alpha release of Ubuntu are usually full of some rough edges. If you decide to try it out, be sure to use not to use it on a computer that is involved with key production. Be prepared of an occasional crash or process failure, and be prepared to file a bug report or two to help the developers of Ubuntu.
Here are some changes of note for next release of Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. Since April is still a little ways off, some more changes may still be on tap.
Old to New Linux Hardware
Ubuntu will continue the trend of losing its luster when it comes to running on older hardware. The introduction of Unity and its bulky and slow interface, along a beefier Linux kernel in recent Ubuntu releases makes this operating system a less than suitable Linux distribution. when it comes to running on my older hardware, recent Ubuntu releases have been steadily getting slower.
Precise Pangolin continues the trend of shedding compatibility with older hardware, by making a 64 bit version the default. A meeker 32 bit version will still be available for older computer systems, but don't count on Ubuntu winning speed tests when running on older systems. There are better options for running Linux on older computers, like Linux Mint LX, or Xubuntu.
Ubuntu Precise Pangolin will also shed CD install disks. The new release will only be able to fit on a DVD or USB device that can hold about 1GB. Daily builds of the alpha release of Ubuntu are coming in a little over 700 MB which is too big to fit on a CD. You will need a computer that has a DVD drive, or is able to boot from a USB device.
With the move to DVD, Rhythmbox makes a return as the main media player. It was replaced by a slimmer Banshee a couple of Ubuntu releases ago. Now that the Ubuntu developers have more space available in the Precise Pangolin Linux distribution, Rhythmbox returns to the Ubuntu stage as the main desktop media player. The move for Rhythmbox may only be temporary, as it seems that Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's founder, favors Banshee.
Despite Complaints, Unity Hangs On
According to statistics from Distrowatch, Ubuntu may have lost some of it popularity due to the Unity interface. But these stats do not give a real indication about the actual number of users still using Ubuntu. But Precise Pangolin will stick to this very same graphical user interface and Ubuntu will look to expand its horizons into tablets and mobile devices in the future. The new release should have some tweaks tucked in to help appease the many complaints that Unity has received.