On 23 April 2012 Shuttleworth announced that Ubuntu 12.10 would be named Quantal Quetzal. As this will be the first of a series of three releases before the next LTS release, Shuttleworth indicated that it will include a refreshed look, with work to be done on typography and iconography. The release takes its name from the quetzal, a species of Central American birds. Ubuntu 12.10 was released on schedule on 18 October 2012 and is Canonical's seventeenth release of the operating system.
Ryan Paul, writing for Ars Technica, said in April 2012 when the name was announced "A Quetzal is a colorful bird that is common to Central America. The most well-known variety, the resplendent quetzal, is known for its beauty. The name is a good fit for Ubuntu, which aims to soar in the cloud, offer visual appeal without compromising function, and avoid smacking into closed windows."
The Ubuntu Developer Summit held in May 2012 set the priorities for this release. They are forecast to include an improved boot up sequence and log-in screen, dropping Unity 2D in favor of lower hardware requirements for Unity 3D, wrap around dialogs and toolbars for the head-up display and a "vanilla" version of Gnome-Shell as an option. The release would likely include GNOME 3.6, Python 3 and the 3.5 Linux kernel. It would ship with Python 3 in the image, but with Python 2 available in the repositories, via the "Python" package. The kernel will have the PAE switched on by default.
In July 2012, development versions of Ubuntu 12.10 received a new combined user, session and system menu. This release also included Ubuntu Web Apps, a means of running Web applications directly from the desktop, without having to open a browser. It would use Nautilus 3.4 as its file manager, in place of the 3.5 and newer versions, to retain features deleted from later versions.
In September 2012, Canonical's Kate Stewart announced that the Ubuntu 12.10 image would not fit on a compact disc, saying "There is no longer a traditional CD sized image, DVD or alternate image, but rather a single 800MB Ubuntu image that can be used from USB or DVD." However, a third-party project has created a version of Ubuntu 12.10 that fits on a CD. It uses LZMA2 compression instead of the DEFLATE compression used on the official Ubuntu DVD image.
Also in late September 2012, it was announced that the version of Unity to be shipped with Ubuntu 12.10 would by default include searches of Amazon.com for searched terms. This move caused immediate controversy among Ubuntu users, particularly with regard to privacy issues, and caused Mark Shuttleworth to issue a statement indicating that this feature is not adware and labelled many of the objections "FUD" (Fear, uncertainty, and doubt). Shuttleworth stated "What we have in 12.10 isn't the full experience, so those who leap to judgement are at maximum risk of having to eat their words later. Chill out. If the first cut doesn't work for you, remove it, or just search the specific scope you want (there are hotkeys for all the local scopes)." Regardless, users filed a Launchpad bug report on the feature requesting that it be made a separate lens and not included with general desktop searches for files, directories and applications. The degree of community push-back on the issue resulted in plans by the developers to make the dash and where it searches user-configurable via a GUI-setting dialogue. Despite concerns that the setting dialogue would not make the final version of Ubuntu 12.10, it was completed and is present in the final version of 12.10.
In the week prior to the stable release of Ubuntu 12.10 data-privacy advocate Luís de Sousa indicated that the inclusion of the shopping lens, installed without explicit permission of the user, violates European Directive 95/46/EC on data privacy. That directive requires that the "data subject has unambiguously given his consent" in situations where personal identifying information is sent.
In reviewing Ubuntu 12.10 at the end of October 2012 for DistroWatch, Jesse Smith raised concerns about the Amazon shopping lens, saying, "it has raised a number of privacy concerns in the community and, looking over Ubuntu's legal notice about privacy does not provide any reassurance. The notice informs us Canonical reserves the right to share our keystrokes, search terms and IP address with a number of third parties, including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and the BBC. This feature is enabled by default, but can be turned off through the distribution's settings panel." He also found that the dash provided very slow performance and that the release was "practically unusable in the VirtualBox environment". He summed up his experiences, "After a day and a half of using Ubuntu 12.10 it was an internal struggle not to wipe my hard drive and just find another distribution to review. During the first twenty-four hours Ubuntu spied on me, provided performance which was distinctly sub par, the interface regularly popped up errors (sometimes so frequently the first pop-up wouldn't have faded out of view before the next one appeared), the update notification didn't work and it wasn't possible to turn off accessibility features through the graphical interface. Adding insult to injury, the Unity dash kept locking up or losing focus while I was trying to use it and the operating system crashed more times than not while trying to shutdown or logout. Switching away from Unity to GNOME Fallback helped the performance issues I had experienced with the Dash, but it didn't remove the annoying pop-up errors and performance (while usable) still wasn't as good as I would expect. And what really makes me scratch my head is Ubuntu 12.04 worked really well on this same hardware."
In early November, the Electronic Frontier Foundation made a statement on the shopping lens issue, "Technically, when you search for something in Dash, your computer makes a secure HTTPS connection to productsearch.ubuntu.com, sending along your search query and your IP address. If it returns Amazon products to display, your computer then insecurely loads the product images from Amazon's server over HTTP. This means that a passive eavesdropper, such as someone sharing a wireless network with you, will be able to get a good idea of what you're searching for on your own computer based on Amazon product images. It's a major privacy problem if you can't find things on your own computer without broadcasting what you're looking for to the world."
Writing about Ubuntu 12.10 in a December 2012 review, Jim Lynch addressed the Amazon controversy:
One of the desktop changes that some folks might not like is the web app link to Amazon.com ... This might come across as a bridge too far in terms of the outright commercialization of Ubuntu. And it is an eery [sic] reminder of all the garbage that gets installed on Windows PCs by default, by the hardware companies. Is this where Ubuntu is going? Will you someday boot into your Ubuntu desktop only to find tons of commercial crapware clogging up your desktop by default? I sure hope not, as it will be another reason for people to avoid Ubuntu.
He concluded by saying, "Overall, Ubuntu 12.10 is a decent upgrade for current Ubuntu users. However, the inclusion of the Amazon icon on the launcher, and the discontinuation of Unity 2D might irritate some people."
Support for Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal officially ended on 16 May 2014.