Even if the twice a year release means that changes to Ubuntu are evolutionary rather than revolutionary, that isn’t to say that curiosity doesn’t get the better of me from time to time. The result is that an early alpha version (3 at the time of writing) of the Linux distro has found a home in a VirtualBox VM on my main system. The most noticeable change so far is the inclusion of GNOME 2.27.5 with its Fedora-esque log-in screen and the movement of the shutdown and log-off paraphernalia to the System menu, which is where you find it in Debian or Fedora. On the account settings menu, there lives a link to an equivalent of the Windows Control Panel called Control Centre; the menu item is named System Preferences. For the record, I have seen it in Fedora 11 too and it does look as if Ubuntu’s GNOME implementation is looking more like a brown equivalent of Fedora. Whether this stays is anyone’s guess but a new messaging arrangement is coming into being too.
Otherwise, there appears to be no real drama on the surface with Firefox staying at 3.0.x for now and OpenOffice moving to 3.1. Personally speaking, I’d be very surprised to seeing Firefox 3.5.x being left out though I did run into a spot of bother with the Preferences dialogue crashing it on Windows XP. Under the bonnet, the kernel is at release 2.6.31 and things seem reasonably stable at this stage. Saying that, there is a crash report icon appear every session but that has no effect apart from the visual side of things. VirtualBox Guest Additions work as they should, better than they in Windows guests if my experience provides any sort of benchmark (the display does odd things unless you keep jogging the graphics memory up and down). All in all, things appear usable if undramatic at this stage and there are a few months to go before the final release anyway.