Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin Beta 2 has just been released. This will be the last test release before 12.04 comes out officially (scheduled at April 26th). It comes with the Kernel 3.2.0-20.33 (with Intel Sandy Bridge’s RC 6 enabled by default) and with few other changes such as Rhythmbox as the default music manager replacing Banshee, Unity desktop 5.8, application “quicklists” updates etc.
Improved power consumption …
Unlike any other time, one cannot empathize enough the importance of an OS that’s optimized for reducing the power usage, because mobile devices will be dominating the future (“they” say ;-)). So, as said before, 12.04 Beta 2 comes with the patch for Intel Sandy bridge platform (“RC6” patch) which should reduce power usage about 25-30%, depending on your configuration.
And also, numerous other experiments for reducing power usage have also been done. Such as concerning the display and another interesting one concerning mouse/touchpad movements and their effect on batter life etc.
According to the testers (mainly “Colin King”), they concluded that tweaking these settings don’t actually improve the battery life or the power consumption by much, thus no tweaking has been added to the 12.04 beta 2 anyway.
* Countdown banner credit goes to: J_baer … *
But that being said, it’s really nice to see that Ubuntu developers are focusing a lot for enhancing the power usage as it is something that GNU/Linux hasn’t been doing so well when comparing with Windows.
Other than these few experiments, the Beta 2 does have a never version of “pm-utils” (a collection of utilities that optimize the power usage) that adds better USB and PCI hardware related power down features. And also according to the release note page, a lot of desktop applications have been patched so they won’t wake up your hardware devices unnecessarily, which is one of the other things that act as a bottleneck while trying to enhance the battery life.
For instance, when there’s nothing for your CPU to do, it goes into a low power mode. It stays in that “state” until it receives another request (wake-up) from an application. Now there could be an application (due to a bug or of being not properly optimized) that “wakes” up the CPU from its low power mode, thus wasting the power. And when a lot of other apps behave the same, as you can see, it shortens your battery life. So, it’ll be interesting to see the end result due to these optimizations :D.
Other updates …
As you know the Unity desktop uses a lot of application form the Gnome Shell (such as Nautilus, Totem, Brasero, Gedit etc) and they too have been upgraded to never versions. However, the default multimedia player “Totem” haven’t been updated (nor will it happen when the 12.04 comes out officially either) to the latest version due to an incompatibility with Compiz
(Update 04/06/2012: I cannot be too certain about this as many have different opinions on this. However, according to some Ubuntu developers, the reason why Totem 3.4 is not there because it requires hardware acceleration by default, thus if you have somewhat an older computer or even a never GPU with hardware acceleration issues, then you’d end up with not having a video player).
Since Gnome Shell uses a window manager called “Mutter” and Unity uses Compiz which are different from each other, perhaps Ubuntu might need to consider slowly developing apps of their own to avoid such issues in the future.
Anyhow, the new menu system called “HUD” is now available for Unity 2D, Lubuntu (LXDE desktop version of Ubuntu) now uses “lightDM” as the display manager are some of the other new features to mention.
You can get a lot more info by visiting this official Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 release note page (including download links). Good luck.