Entries in Ubuntu (1)

Friday
Mar132009

Upcoming Ubuntu 9.04 release

Canonical and the Ubuntu community will release the next version of Ubuntu Linux- codenamed Jaunty Jackalope. This new version will be coming with many new features, and quite a bit of polish on the surface. Some of these changes will cause issues for some people running in certain hardware situations, such as those that require the use of third-party drivers. Many vendors do work hard to get drivers available as soon as possible, and several are already packaged up with the testing releases, but there are still those that drag their heels.

New Features

  • Package Updates - As with all distribution version updates, there are a host of packages that get version updates. These range from common utilities to linked libraries. For details about updated packages, take a look at the jaunty-changes mailing list at https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/jaunty-changes.
  • X.Org Server 1.6 - X.org is the underlying graphical system of Ubunbu Linux. Version 1.6 now ships with DRI2 to manage graphics rendering (including 3D), X Input 1.5 which allows automatic detection and configuration of input devices such as mice, keyboards, pens, touch screens, etc., A new pointer acceleration system, and RandR 1.3, which manages the resizing and rotation of screens. In addition to these updates, there are several smaller but no less critical changes. Many of these increase performance and stability across the board, and provide driver updates to more fully support new hardware versions.
  • Optimized font sizes - Ubuntu 9.04 will detect your display settings and automatically set your font's dot-per-inch size. This will make text more easily readable and consistently sixed across an array of devices. If you prefer a customized side, you can also manually set this value.
  • New notifications - I am personally excited about this feature. Ubuntu now offers a standardized notification framework to other applications, making notification messages appear and behave in a predictable way. To see a preview of these notifications, please check out this example on Mark Shuttleworth's blog.
  • Updated kernel - Jaunty will ship with kernel version 2.6.28. This kernel version comes with a long list of newly supported devices, EXT4 filesystem which makes disk access in most cases faster and more reliable, and Intel's new Graphics Execution Manager (GEM), which provides a new system for managing the memory of graphics systems. Naturally, quite a bit of work went into fixing bugs, updating existing drivers, and optimizing performance.
  • EXT4 filesystem - The EXT4 filesystem is an update to the EXT3 filesystem, but also so much more. EXT4 has been discussed at length on every Linux forum and benchmarking site, but the breakdown is this. Files are allocated in a new way, which makes creating and deleting significantly faster. This new allocation method also requires less data to describe files themselves. In addition, data is cataloged with 64bit addresses, which means the amount of usable storage is orders of magnitude larger than the number of devices you can attach to your system.

Unfortunately, a few features were cut. Most significant to me, personally, was the encrypted home directory. The basic rundown of this feature was that when you installed Ubuntu, it would ask you for a password and then create an encrypted directory in your home folder. This directory could be used to store sensitive documents, data, and things of the like. If your disk or computer were ever stolen, you didn't have to worry about that information getting into the wrong hands- without your password even the NSA wouldn't be able to access that data. Due to some "outstanding issues", the feature has been removed from the testing releases and will not be put into the final version for download.

In all, Ubuntu has been shaping up very nicely over the past few years that I've been using it. At this point, the system is completely ready for use by any computer user, and that is a claim I will stake my reputation on. There are very few situations where Ubuntu can not fully satisfy any need a computer user has, but just like switching from a PC to a Mac, you need to be ready to change the way you think about using computers.

If you haven't tried Ubuntu yet, I encourage you to head over to www.ubuntu.com, download a copy, and boot up a live-cd. This will allow you to try Ubuntu without installing it on your PC. If you like it, I say back up your data and take the plunge. If you don't, I'd love to hear what you feel is wrong with it.