The new version of the popular Linux distribution brings updated applications and several new features, including augmented search capabilities in the Unity desktop shell. It’s more of an incremental update from Raring Ringtail with big changes under the hood, but there are a few improvements in the interface too.
Saucy Salamander offers some interesting improvement. Although the updates are relatively thin Canonical's efforts were largely focused on the company’s new display server and upcoming Unity overhaul, but neither is yet ready for the desktop.
The Unity Dash The Unity Dash, where you can quickly search for apps or files, now has ‘Smart Scopes’ to let you search websites as well. So if you are in the Music lens, you can search for a song and look it up on Soundcloud, for example.
To make it easier to find the right answer, you can now filter results in the Dash by categories such as applications, graphics, news, social, web, files & folders, etc.
There’s a new scope added to the Dash. The Friends Scope is the sixth ‘lens’ in the lens bar and gives you quick access to your social media accounts, whether to browse updates or send messages.
Since the initial introduction of the Dash, the search system has gradually evolved to operate like a kind of virtual storefront. In response to certain queries, it will recommend music from the Ubuntu One Music Store and products from Amazon, generating affiliate revenue for Canonical.
Ubuntu 14 also ships with LibreOffice — one of the best office suites on Linux — with new, modern presentation templates and built-in support for Ubuntu’s integrated menu bar.
Saucy Salamander also brings Mir, Canonical’s new display server to replace the X Window System. The primary purpose is to make it easier to develop a common Unity interface across touchscreen and desktop devices, which won’t be seen in this version of Ubuntu.
The Linux kernel has been updated in this latest release.
After the considerable criticism Canonical faced previously regarding the built-in Amazon search feature. The newly expanded search system, and the manner in which it is implemented, will likely raise additional concerns.
I would be a lot happier with the feature if Canonical broke it out into a separate mechanism, activated by selecting a specific section of the Dash or using a particular shortcut. In its current form, it strikes me as a bit too invasive.
XMir is on the way, but it's still not quite ready yet XMir project is one of the most important part of the company’s device-spanning platform strategy. Canonical revealed that it was building a totally new display server called Mir that future versions of Ubuntu will use instead of Xorg. Some of the benefits that Mir will eventually offer include lower overhead in the display pipeline, more seamless transitions between display modes during the boot process, richer input handling that will make it easier to support things like touchscreen gestures, more seamless support for systems with switchable graphics hardware (like laptops that can dynamically shift between using embedded and discrete graphics), and better application interchange (which will help improve things like the clipboard and drag-and-drop).
Ubuntu developers are already using Mir—in conjunction with Android graphics drivers—to power Ubuntu Touch on devices, but it’s going to take a bit longer to bring it to the desktop. In order to facilitate an incremental transition, Canonical will use a temporary shim called XMir that creates a bridge between existing X11-compatible software and the Mir display server. The primary advantage of getting XMir into Ubuntu is that it will provide a way for Mir to get broader exposure to more users and more hardware. That will help accelerate development, make it easier to identify bugs, and generally help improve the quality of the Mir user experience. Of course, in order to get to the point where it can be included in the distribution, there has to be a certain baseline level of quality and stability.
Next-Gen Unity Unity one of the most controversial functions in Ubuntu is also one of its future elements. The current unity incarnation is largely built on top of compiz in order to leverage OpenGL for Hardware-accelerated rendering. In other hand Compiz got some major disadvantages such as creating user interface elements with straight OpenGL drawings. Even do the developers made their primitive OpenGL graphics framework called Nux, it doesn’t even come close to providing the kind of functionality that you would normally expect to get from a real user interface toolkit.
Conclusion Ubuntu is by far the most popular linux desktop distribution today. and even being extremely functional and easy to use it still an operating system that is not fully ready yet, even do Canonical provides five years of support for LTS releases, ensuring that security patches and other critical updates are available. Unity 7 will likely be retired from further development. Due to the imminent transition to Unity 8 and Mir, Ubuntu 14 is sort of like the calm before the storm. Have that said, Ubuntu 14 is found to be stable and very easy to use but there are some major changes on the horizon that should make the next few major Ubuntu releases a lot more interesting.
Finally, Ubuntu 14 Saucy Salamander is available for free from the official download page. And to get you started, check out our beginner’s guide to Ubuntu.