Canonical Ltd, the corporate sponsor of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, has announced the availability of version 12.04 LTS, code named “Precise Pangolin”†, for Desktop, Server, Cloud, and Core products.
There are 54 product images and 2 cloud images being shipped with this 12.04 LTS release, with translations available in 41 languages. The Ubuntu project’s 12.04 archive currently has 39,226 binary packages in it, built from 19,179 source packages, so lots of good starting points for your imagination!
This is a long-term support [LTS] release. A new version of Ubuntu is released twice yearly, in April and October, giving version numbers of the form YY.MM, from the year and month of the release.. Most releases receive updates for security issues and bug fixes for 18 months, but every two years an LTS release is made. Historically, these have received three years of update support on the desktop, and five years for the server edition. In this case, Canonical has said that all versions will receive five years of updates. The LTS releases are especially helpful to those who may have sizable Ubuntu deployments, as well as those who just want less frequent OS updates.
In addition to the Linux operating system, the distribution contains a large number of applications, including the Firefox browser, the LibreOffice office suite, and media players. Many more applications are available in the Ubuntu software repositories, and can be downloaded and installed easily using the Software Center tool included in the distribution. As usual, the CD images available for download can be used as a bootable “live CD”, so that you can try things out without any modifications to your system; it also allows you to do a standard installation to the hard disk. More information about this version is available in the Release Notes.
The base Ubuntu distribution for desktop and laptop computers uses Canonical’s Unity desktop shell [GUI]. Other versions are also available. The Kubuntu version uses the KDE graphical interface, which some users prefer; it is available for download here. Another variant, Xubuntu, uses the Xfce desktop manager; users with older hardware, especially, may find it of interest, since its resource requirements are more modest. You can download Xubuntu here. The announcement from Canonical also lists some other, more specialized, variants.
The Ubuntu Linux system, and the tools included with it, are all free software; you are not only allowed, but also encouraged, to share the software with others.
Ars Technica has an initial review of the new release.
† The Ubuntu project uses alliterative animal names for its releases. So we have had Dapper Drake, Hardy Heron, Intrepid Ibex, and Oneiric Ocelot, among others.