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Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal, fast approaching beta

On March 31, users will be able to download the much hyped beta version of Ubuntu code-named Natty Narwhal, which is version 11.04. One of the improvements will be an updated and faster Linux kernel. The Linux kernel  2.6.38, will help Natty's beta be faster than alpha versions.

The new kernel would " ...would provide our users the best support for new hardware, driver updates, and bug fixes," explained an Ubuntu Kernel Team member in rather complicated English in a forum entry. .

Also coming in the beta will be the Firefox 4.0 web browser, which became available for download earlier this week. With OpenOffice gone, hopefully the new 3.3.2 version of its replacement, LibreOffice, will ship as well.

Other updates from the older Maverick Meerkat 10.10 version will be a smashing new Unity interface, which was previously used mostly on the Netbook Edition and other light versions of Ubuntu. The new interface is different from GNOME, and souped-up to launch and run applications. It's still based on GNOME, but it isn't GNOME. The Unity interface is also ready for touch-based input, which will soon become widespread.

But there are some complications that will also come with the new operating system. But the seeming disassociation with Debian could keep the OS limited on applications. The Unity interface in some way moves it away from the open-source movement. It's intriguing, as well as scary, but there are no indications that Ubuntu seems to have an exit strategy from the mainstream.