Ubuntu 12.10 has been released and you can download it now. From better integration with web apps and online services to improvements in Unity, there are quite a few changes – although none of them are huge or groundbreaking.

The list of new features may be more exciting next time around, with Mark Shuttleworth promising secret development of new “tada!” features that will be unveiled closer to Ubuntu 13.04’s release.

Web App Integration

Ubuntu 12.10 contains web app integration that aims to make web apps like Gmail first-class citizens of the Ubuntu desktop. Visit a supported website in Firefox or Chromium and you’ll see a prompt to install the web app. For example, you can use this feature to pin Gmail to your launcher – you’ll get a dedicated window for Gmail and see new email notifications in Ubuntu’s messaging menu.

Visit our post about Ubuntu’s web app integration for more examples of how this feature works with different websites.

Online Accounts

The Online Accounts control panel allows you to add a variety of online accounts to Ubuntu in one place. Applications on your Ubuntu desktop can integrate with these accounts. For example, if you add a Flickr account here, you’ll be able to search for photos in your Flickr account and preview them from Ubuntu’s dash. Add a Twitter account and it will appear in Gwibber, or add an AIM account and it will appear in the Empathy instant messager.

Dash Previews

You can now right-click anything in Ubuntu’s dash to view a full-screen preview. For example, if you right-click an application icon, you’ll see information about the application along with a screenshot and an Uninstall button. Right-click an image or document and you’ll see a preview of it.

Easy Full-Disk Encryption

Ubuntu 12.10 offers easy full-disk encryption setup. Just enable the Encrypt the new Ubuntu installation for security option while installing Ubuntu. Previously, this required using an alternative installation disc.

Unlike home folder encryption, this feature encrypts all files on your Ubuntu partition with a password – you’ll have to enter the password at boot time to use the system. This is a useful feature for laptops and other systems with sensitive data on them, but it does reduce performance.

A Unified Unity

Ubuntu’s Unity desktop is now unified. Previously, two versions of Unity were available – the 3D-accelerated default named Unity and an alternative named Unity 2D for systems without 3D acceleration. While they looked similar, they were actually different desktops.

Unity 2D has now been removed and Unity is used by default on all systems. On systems that don’t support hardware-accelerated 3D graphics, Gallium3D LLVMpipe is used to render Unity’s 3D effects in software.

Secure Boot Support

Ubuntu 12.10 includes a signed Grub 2 bootloader, allowing it to install on computers that use the UEFI Secure Boot feature – in other words, Windows 8 PCs. You won’t have to add any keys to your UEFI firmware or disable secure boot to install Ubuntu on these systems.

For more information about what exactly Secure Boot is, read HTG Explains: How Windows 8′s Secure Boot Feature Works & What It Means for Linux.

Drivers Integrated into Software Sources

This isn’t a huge new feature, but if you’re looking for the Drivers control panel to install closed-source drivers for your hardware, it’s no longer a separate application. You’ll find the Additional Drivers control panel integrated into the Software Sources application.

Software Updates

Of course, Ubuntu 12.10 also contains the usual updates for all the software on your system – the Linux kernel 3.5.4, GNOME 3.6, Firefox and Thunderbird 16, LibreOffice 3.6.2, and more.

One application that isn’t the latest version is the Nautilus file manager – Ubuntu is still using Nautilus 3.4, not Nautilus 3.6. The GNOME project made some controversial changes to Nautilus 3.6, removing a variety of features, including desktop icons.

Amazon Search Results

Amazon search results appear in the dash when you perform a search – so if you’re searching for Terminal to launch the terminal application, you’ll see results allowing you to buy the movie “The Terminal” on Amazon.com.

If you don’t like this feature, we’ve got a guide to disabling the Amazon search results.

Have you noticed any other useful new features? Leave a comment and share them!

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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