Ubuntu Beta 2, the final beta before the final version has just been released. Being a beta release it brings lots of bug fixes. A lot has changed since beta 1 in the front end worthy of mention. If you are interested to read about the changes since Ubuntu 11.10, you can read it here. We are only going to mention the changes since beta 1 otherwise this would be too huge a list to cover in this post alone.
Performance Improvements to Unity
Compiz Core, one of the major components of Unity has recently received a major performance update. The compiz CPU usage has been decreased by an astounding 40%! In addition to this, the CPU wake ups have also been decreased resulting in better battery life.
Visual Tweaks to the Dash
The Unity Dash has received a lot of visual polish that it deserves. The tweaks include darker dash background, no ghostly icons resulting in more clear icons displayed in the dash and better spacing of icons. The Dash search is now intelligently searches applications not just by name but by relevance. For instance VLC player now shows up when searching for Video, Audio or Broadcast.
The dash tries to be more user friendly by informing the user if a search does not provide any results with a message.
Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 brings an updated music lens which now supports Rhythmbox and Banshee by default. You can install more scopes to support other players such as Clementine, Gmusic browser etc..
The file and folder lens which previously only displayed files and folders opened with the help of Zeitgeist now can search any file or folder in the system. This will certainly be helpful to quickly search for files scattered in your hard disk all through the dash.
Unfocused State gets more prominent
To distinguish between focused and unfocused applications, the light-themes now grays out progress bars, check boxes, strings etc. You can see the focused and unfocused states of Rhythmbox.
Unity 2D on par with Unity 3D
Unity 2D, the unity interface written in QT is almost on par with Unity 3D in terms of features. It now has the heads-up-display (HUD) and chameleonic behavior making it indistinguishable from Unity 3D.
Privacy Settings get a new usage dialog
Privacy Settings making its first debut in Ubuntu 12.04 now included a rejuvenated application usage dialog. You can now sort applications according to usage and then blacklist them at will.
Unity Multi-monitor Support
The gnome control center now provides new options to customize your multi-monitor experience. You can choose to display the launcher in the monitor that you wish to. You can also choose to enable or disable the sticky edge option.
Core applications get quicklist support
Rhythmbox, Totem, Remmina, Gedit, Empathy and Gedit receive quicklist support integrating better with Unity.
New ubuntu one start page
Ubuntu One gets a new wizard start screen in addition to its new QT interface.
Ubuntu Software Center gets better integration with Unity
The Ubuntu Software Center now displays a progress bar of the application currently being installed on the launcher. This way you can follow the progress of the installation process right from the launcher itself. After the installation, the application is pinned to the launcher by default. You can disable this feature by unchecking the feature in View – New Applications in Launcher.
This is great, however this only happens while installing applications. It would be better if it was also displayed while uninstalling applications as well.
Nautilus looks a visual uplift
The light-themes for nautilus is now updated to display better sidebar colors. The search bar and the trash bar also now feature a gray color to better integrate with the other nautilus components instead of the bright yellow.
This summarizes all the changes that have landed in Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 since Beta 1.