Natty Narwhal Beta 2 Is Now Available

Natty Narwhal Beta 2 is now (as of April 14) being made available through the Ubuntu.com home page.

Let me point out some of the changes made with Natty. The most obvious is the launcher on the left, containing several buttons for folders and applications and the Ubuntu Software Center, among other necessities. Here is a screenshot to show the general layout:

The top bar no longer allows widgets – it is used instead for the list of menus that used to be part of each separate application screen. I am suffering from withdrawal because I used to use the top bar for everything from monitoring my CPU to launching applications.

Another thing that is gone is the notification area. This means that, for example, checkgmail no longer works. I am presently trying cGmail, a program that uses the notification area. The problem with it is that it only shows notifications when the e-mails arrive. There is nothing on the screen afterwards to warn you that you’ve got a boatload.

If you click on the Ubuntu logo on the top left of your screen, you will find a group of shortcuts, including Check Email (for Evolution), Find Files, and several AOos choices. Unfortunately, when I tried to get a screenshot of that page, when I left-clicked on the screenshot button on the launcher, the shortcut page disappeared. 😦

The Applications search button pulls up an intelligent window. At first, I was worried that every time I wanted to run a particular app, I would have to go through 173 applications to find it. Thankfully, as you keep using the game or bleachbit or whatever else you want, it will start showing up among the most used.

Natty is running more slowly on my $300 computer (with some modifications) than past versions have done. I don’t know if this slowness will be fixed by release time or not.

I’m not sure I am ready to recommend Natty Narwhal. It looks like a great system for a young child whose parents can set up the most used areas, and add buttons to the launcher for the child’s favorite applications. It feels very much like a netbook interface.

If you do decide to upgrade to Natty, this is probably the time to do it. Natty is stable enough to use. It can at present be downloaded from the http://www.ubuntu.com start page, as I noted earlier. If you are running Maverick, you may wish to go with the Alt + F2, type in update-manager -d, method of upgrading. I did a clean install because I had extra PPAs I was using, and wanted to clean up my machine.

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6 Responses to “Natty Narwhal Beta 2 Is Now Available”


  1. 1 Reformed Musings April 15, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    I was debating trying this beta on one of my spare drives. Do the proprietary NVidia drivers work now? Without those, I’m not interested. Maverick is working great.

    I’m not sure that I’m all that interested in Unity. My setup with AWN suits me perfectly.

    • 2 ubuntulady April 16, 2011 at 2:21 am

      The Nvidia driver I have works. It’s nvidia-current, so I imagine you won’t have any trouble.

      I’ve been thinking of setting up AWN again, myself. I did a fresh install of Natty, so I am working on getting all my creature comforts back. 😉

    • 3 David April 22, 2011 at 6:33 am

      I have taken the plunge and upgraded to Natty and am giving Unity a go, though may go back to Gnome with Awn as others are suggesting. Quite like it – Ubuntu One works much better, but there are a couple of niggles:

      I have an Nvidia card and use the proprietary driver (current version), but the find new drivers daemon says this driver is installed but not in use (I am wondering whether this is a reporting error as Unity works OK, but not certain) – the Nvidia control menu appears quite normal.

      The other niggle is that the refresh rate on boot (and shut down) appears to be wrong for my monitor (I get a blank screen and warning message that I didn’t get with 10.10) – once the system has pretty much loaded, the screen displays as normal, so this is just disconcerting rather than a major issue.

      Apart from this, I rather like it, but, as others here have said, I am still uncertain about Unity.

      • 4 ubuntulady April 22, 2011 at 6:38 am

        I can’t comment too much, because updates to Natty caused my computer not to be able to find its hard drive when I rebooted. For the moment I am back to Maverick. I hope that the release version of Natty is far more stable. I’m glad you’re still able to run it.

  2. 5 Reformed Musings April 17, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Copy creature comforts. I’m open to changes, but AWN has been the best of the interfaces I’ve tried so far. The side bar in natty seems like a less-well-thought-out imitation from descriptions and images I’ve seen online.

    Maybe this will be my project after Easter on one of my spare drives. I’ll probably install it over the Kubuntu Maverick I have on one drive now as I really dislike the 4.x KDE interface.

  3. 6 ubuntulady April 18, 2011 at 4:47 am

    I have already copied my creature comforts. I am on the lookout for more creature comforts, I’ll have to admit. AWN makes things easy.


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