How-To Geek

8 New Features in Ubuntu 12.10, Quantal Quetzal


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

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!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 10/20/12

Comments (18)

  1. durtfree

    Too bad it can’t detect the batteries of a Toshiba Satellite laptop.

  2. JetsonB

    I have a Toshiba satellite laptop myself running W7, with Ubuntu in a virtual machine, it detects my battery power fine.

  3. Thiago Gutenberg

    I’ll wait for the bumblebee project have a stable version to 12.10. I do not know if it already has support.

  4. david

    To bad you still can’t remove unity?

  5. acorn

    Seems that ubuntu is becoming linked with Firefox addons, and Amazon addons. I object to any commercial-appearing lonks or suggestions.

  6. acorn

    Seems that ubuntu is becoming linked with Firefox addons, and Amazon addons. I object to any commercial-appearing links or suggestions.

  7. John

    My computer right now has the worst GPU ever. It’s built in to my 1.8GHZ CPU so yeah, it sucks. On of the main reasons I haven’t upgraded is because of Uninty 2D being there. I can’t do barely anything with out it. I don’t want to upgrade and be screwed.

  8. Mike

    Yeah, right more Amazon crap. I am dumping Ubuntu and moving to Mint.

  9. Matthew

    So if you’re using Gnome 2 (I have done since 6.06, save for a brief XFCE spell), there’s nothing to shout home about.

  10. durtfree

    @JetsonB Try installing it in the laptop itself and not in a virtual machine.

  11. pradeep

    The biggest problems I faced are :

    1. No wubi support. so you have to make partitions and installed ubuntu on hard drive. otherwise carry on with the live cd.

    2. No automatic detection of ntfc (windows) partitions. Even ntfs tool doesn’t work properly. You have only read access. you cant modify any file on ntfc partitions. have to resort to cmd line always to get write privilege. On few forums it is declared as bug. Hope they rectify soon.

    3.No desktop icons.

    On the plus side, I love the feel of the OS. Unity is smooth. Everything works and fast.

  12. Dark Reality

    I like Linux. I’d switch, but I like playing Bethesda games (e.g. Fallout 3, Skyrim) and those only run on Windows. Don’t say Xbox 360 — I just went through a quest in Skyrim where I had to use no fewer than five console commands to advance the quest when the game’s scripting engine flat-out broke. I know Steam is coming (or has been ported) to Linux, and maybe some Valve games are being/have been ported, but until the Bethesda stuff goes… I’m stuck. :(

    Also, where’s the Android apps? Pocket computers, mostly Android, are evolving way faster than PCs did, and now they do a ton of stuff PCs can’t do. Let’s see. Live wallpapers. Tapatalk (app for forums, works better than a web browser). Tasker. Auto-correct/capitalization/etc and typing predictions. Some other things. Anyway, Android is based on Linux. Seems there should be a way to make Android apps run natively somehow.

  13. insanelyapple

    Last one “feature”, along side with icon in launchbar makes me feel strange – what is the point of search results in dashboard? Its like Ubuntu goes commercial path.

  14. Deekshith Allamaneni

    Good polishing in this version. It seems that Unity is perfecting itself with every release. Although I was disappointed that they did not improve HUD. I thought they will improve HUD algorithm to understand regular descriptions as Mark told earlier. However it is worth upgrading.

  15. McStud

    Although the developer of Ubuntu Tweak has since quit the project, all features still work except the “APPS” function. The most aggravating flaw I have found in 12.10 is the crashing that occurs when I try to apply wobbly windows and randomized effects with compiz settings manager. It seems to me power users are being left behind for commercial interests! Also could not install Gnome Shell. Would have liked to see just how much it lost in the customization area; meaning shell extensions. IMO the many shell extensions available for 3.41 made it my favorite DE. Now unable to even install Gnome Shell. Could not utilize unity revamped for window dodge either. Too many of my favorite adjustment to Unity and Gnome Shell have been removed. Therefore, I will stick with 12.04 LTS for the time being.

  16. Ville

    As stated above, the Amazon integration is very easy to disable. It does not deserve the knee-jerk reaction it is receiving from many users.

    I’m not pretending I like the Amazon search results appearing in my dash, but I do not object to Canonical trying to make money in order to continue providing Ubuntu for FREE.

  17. Robin Winslow

    I hope Canonical are being paid A LOT for the Amazon integration. It’s a big thing to build in to an OS be default, and should carry a seriously high premium.

  18. Steve

    @Dark Reality, you can play Bethesda games on Linux, just google it and there are tonnes of guides. My room mate and I got Oblivion running(with some hardship I’ll admit) on 12.10 and there seems to be plenty of people using wine and PlayOnLinux to get these games and plenty more working.

    Also since Bethesda game engines are all based on OpenGL I would think they would be some of the easiest games to get working, library and dependency-wise.

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