After the delay. Canonical has released the second alpha of Ubuntu 11.10. Meant for development purposes, this release has a number of new features that will finally make it to the final release in October.
The most visible changes will be the change from GDM to LightDM. LightDM has not been themed yet, unfortunately. So, when user starts up Ubuntu 11.10, they will not see the sleek-looking login. However, LightDM is extremely customizable and we should see some awesome themes soon. Another thing about LightDM is that it is very light weight and much faster than GDM.
Another change that testers will notice is Deja Dup. Deja Dup is a very easy-to-use backup tool that also supports backup to your Ubuntu One account. Users will find this a very useful application indeed.
Because of the restriction of the CD size limit, the addition of the new application Deja Dup meant that some other application has to be dropped. They application they decided to drop is Synaptic Package Manager. For new users, Synaptic is too difficult and they generally prefer the Ubuntu Software Center. As for the experienced users who find Synaptic much better, they can always install it through the command line.
The last change in applications is the email client.In Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2, Evolution has been replaced by Thunderbird 5. The decision to replace Evolution is not yet final though. If Thunderbird is found lacking during the testing, Evolution will be brought back.
The not-so-visible changes includes Linux 3.0-rc5 and GTK 3.
Kate Stewart, who made the announcement, warned that this is a release meant for testing and is not recommended for normal users.
Pre-releases of Oneiric Ocelot are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting, and fixing bugs.
If you want to test it, you can download Ubuntu 11.10 Alpha 2 from here.
You can check out the release schedule here.