Ubuntu releases Jaunty Jackalope beta

Canonical has released the first beta of Jaunty Jackalope, the latest version of the popular Ubuntu operating system.

Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical's chief executive, has already claimed he wants Jaunty Jackalope to be the fastest version of Ubuntu yet, and is aiming to knock boot times down to around 25 seconds on a netbook.

Although the big visual revamp is being held back until Ubuntu 9.10, dubbed Karmic Koala, Jaunty will not go untended on the looks front.

The operating system includes the Gnome 2.26 desktop environment, bringing the Brasero CD/DVD burning tool, as well as improved notification handling - with a user being able to choose where system, email and instant messages appear.

Gnome 2.26 also brings improvements to Evolution, the default mail client, which can now import Microsoft Outlook Personal Folders and has support for Microsoft Exchange's MAPI protocol.

There's also broader file format support, an option to install the Ext4 filesystem and version 2.6.28 of the Linux kernel, which should provide the usual array of bug fixes and stability improvements.

The final release of Jaunty Jackalope will be available by mid-April. Download the Jaunty Jackalope beta here.