We told you earlier this summer that we're switching to use Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) on some of our computers to monitor its development cycle and inform you guys about the new features it gets.

Now that the Final Beta is out, Canonical's engineers working on the Ubuntu Desktop and Unity user interface are preparing for the final launch of Ubuntu 16.10, which will happen next week, on October 13, 2016. And, if you remember, Canonical promised that it would deliver the next-gen Unity 8 interface as an optional session.

It didn't make it into the Final Beta pre-release, but, earlier today, the packages needed to enable the optional Unity 8 session in the login manager have been pushed to the stable repositories, so you'll get them automatically if you're running Ubuntu 16.10 just by doing a normal update.

The kernel packages have been updated as well today, based on the final release of the linux 4.8 kernel , which means that Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) is going to be the first stable GNU/Linux distribution to be powered by Linux kernel 4.8. Back to Unity 8, after the update, you'll be able to select it from the display manager (see the screenshot below for details).

Unity 8 is currently an experimental session

However, don't get all that excited, because the Unity 8 session, which runs on top of the Mir display server designed by Canonical's engineers specifically for mobile devices, such as Ubuntu Phones and Ubuntu Tablets, is currently is in an experimental state for desktops.

It won't work in a virtual machine like VirtualBox in case you just want to see what the fuss is all about, but with some workarounds, it may work in a KVM/QEMU or VMware virtualization environment, according to Michael Hall from Canonical. Locally, Unity 8 and Mir are currently designed to support only Intel HD graphics cards.

But it doesn't work on our testing machines, which feature Intel HD video cards and dedicated AMD Radeon GPUs. Currently, we only see a black screen when attempting to access the Unity 8 session, and have no control over it whatsoever. It works on a VMware virtual machine, but you should not expect too much.

The experimental Unity 8 session in Ubuntu 16.10 is just that, an experiment, which means that it's here for you to try and report bugs if it doesn't work on your computer. Also, only a few applications are available, so you'll have a better experience if you have a convergent Ubuntu Phone or Tablet.

In conclusion, your wish was granted, Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) is shipping with an optional Unity 8 session, but after five minutes of test driving it, you'll quickly log out and log back into your good old Unity 7 desktop, or whatever you're happy with these days. Probably the most awesome feature of Ubuntu 16.10 is the Linux 4.8 kernel.

Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak) to Ship with an Optional Unity 8 Session After All

Unity 8 is now an option in the login screen

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