Even as Ubuntu Linux 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal" continues to make headlines following its release back in October, work is proceeding in earnest on its successor, Ubuntu 13.04 "Raring Ringtail."

On Thursday, in fact, version 13.04 of the popular Linux distribution entered alpha - a stage that typically gives fans of the open source operating system an early glimpse at what's to come.

This time around, however, it's only users of Edubuntu and Kubuntu - the flavours offering an education focus and a default KDE desktop, respectively - that get a full sneak peek. For those of us who choose the core desktop Ubuntu package, feature details are still under wraps.

'We won't talk about them'

Ubuntu fans may recall that - in a break from how things have been done in the past - the Ubuntu 13.04 development cycle will see some details kept secret until the software's release, as Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced back in October.

Development is being conducted in a "skunkworks" environment, in other words - to the chagrin of some open source fans.

Then, too, there's the fact that the Ubuntu project has decided to reduce the number of milestone images it releases, focusing instead "on daily quality and fortnightly testing rounds known as cadence testing," developer Stéphane Graber explained in Thursday's release announcement.

A milestone build in March

Accordingly, there will be no alpha release for the main Ubuntu distro; instead, its first milestone release will be the final beta on 28 March.

The other Ubuntu flavours are exempted from this decision, however - thus the release of the Edubuntu and Kubuntu alphas this week.

To see what's going on, you can always check out the main Ubuntu's latest daily builds, of course. True alpha releases, meanwhile, can now be downloaded for both Edubuntu and Kubuntu.