Canonical has announced the release of the latest version of Ubuntu: version 12.04 LTS, which you can get here. Dubbed "Precise Pangolin," we've covered the beta versions of this important upgrade to one of the most popular Linux distros. Version 12.04 is based on the 3.0.2 Linux kernel, and is a long-term support (LTS) release of the operating system, with maintenance updates guaranteed for five years. It's positioned as ideal for cloud computing, and Mark Shuttleworth and others have steadily positioned it as aimed at enterprise users. Here is more on this release.
Previously, LTS versions of Ubuntu were supported for three years for desktop users and five years on the server, but Canonical has upped the support for Precise Pangolin to five years across the board. It's one of many pitches the OS makes to enterprise users.
The Unity desktop environment in version 12.04, which has been so controversial, has become much faster and more flexible. Visual effects are much slicker, and it's also worth noting that Canonical put a lot of effort into making this release work smoothly with multiple monitors--worth experimenting with.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest new features in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS is the head's-up display (HUD) feature. HUD represents a break from standard menu-driven interfaces and is genertating a lot of discussion. We previously noted this, regarding HUD, from a Mark Shuttleworth post:
"As a means of invoking commands, menus have some advantages. They are always in the same place (top of the window or screen)...They also have some disadvantages: when they get nested, navigating the tree can become fragile. They require you to read a lot when you probably already know what you want. They are more difficult to use from the keyboard than they should be, since they generally require you to remember something special (hotkeys) or use a very limited subset of the keyboard (arrow navigation). They force developers to make often arbitrary choices about the menu tree ('should Preferences be in Edit or in Tools or in Options?'), and then they force users to make equally arbitrary effort to memorise and navigate that tree."
The HUD interface allows you to quickly search or launch applications without navigating lots of menus.
Banshee has been replaced by Rhythmbox as the standard music application in version 12.04. LibreOffice is the default productivity application suite. You can find many more details on the new release of Ubuntu in our previous coverage, and there is a good visual tour supplied by Canonical available here.