Likely the largest area of change with Ubuntu 11.10 is its graphics stack. There is now the Nouveau Gallium3D driver enabled by default to provide open-source NVIDIA OpenGL acceleration, the Radeon driver is much faster with Mesa 7.11, and there is mature Sandy Bridge support. Intel Sandy Bridge in Ubuntu 11.04 was very problematic and would frequently encounter the GPU being hung, etc.
For those not using the proprietary AMD or NVIDIA Linux graphics drivers, there's a lot to like about the updated Linux graphics drivers as found in Ubuntu 11.10, Fedora 16, etc.
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