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Ubuntu 10.10 moves towards completion

by Dave Walker

Maverick Meerkat follows the Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS release so for some this offers a chance to experiment, with a little wider tolerance for more revolutionary features. Ubuntu developer, Dave Walker, talks us through some new features and development background…

This article is due to appear in issue 92 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Ubuntu 10.10 moves towards completion Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

Maverick has striven to build on the choices of Lucid, bringing slightly more bleeding-edge versions of software while attempting to maintain the stability that Lucid provided.

Some of the features we are seeing in Maverick are, as usual, newer versions of applications. This release potentially has a larger jump in versions, as Lucid synchronised and merged from Debian Testing; but Maverick reverted to the usual practice of importing from Debian Unstable, which has higher version numbers. One of the surprises that came out of Debconf (the Debian conference) was the announcement of their feature freeze, which meant that Debian stabilisations commenced mid-cycle for Maverick in preparation for their next stable release.

The superb timing, which I believe is less than accidental, is actually beneficial to both distributions. It allows Ubuntu to maintain an approach of largely getting the latest and greatest, while also maintaining quality of bug fixes only. The benefit to Debian is that it is easier for Ubuntu developers to pass patches back to Debian, as the chance of running the same version (with the same bugs) in both projects is greater. I feel this is partly the realisation of Mark Shuttleworth’s controversial suggestion of unification of development cycle ‘cadences’, although this could equally be good fortune.

The desktop has seen a range of changes and although this isn’t the area where my development has been targeted this cycle, I have been running Maverick as a desktop on a few of my machines for some time. Over the last few weeks I have witnessed some of the changes introduced at a subtle pace. The most noticeable change is usually the desktop theme and this time we have an additional polish of the themes introduced in Lucid, which are Ambiance (dark) and Radiant (light).

Ubuntu 10.10 moves towards completion

Some criticism was raised in the Lucid cycle, with the revolutionary theme developed quietly and dropped into the archive towards the end of the cycle. The design team made great efforts to rectify this by working more publicly and documenting their work on the Ubuntu Planet via the new design blog. The new Ubuntu font has occupied much of their time and the end result is now quite pleasing to the eye. Some of the subtle improvements include window button design enhancement, a slight emphasis on what menu item is selected and a nifty Rhythmbox widget bundled under the sound volume indicator app.

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    • I have never seen a release of ubuntu that didnt feel like a testing release. Completion is a very strong word to use along side ubuntu, it is however a nice release.

    • slumbergod

      Agreed. An Ubuntu release is always exciting to upgrade to (or clean install)…but the frequency of their releases combined with the regressions each release reintroduces has taken some of the shine off in the last couple of years. When the Ubuntu team boast about how polished their upcoming release is I take it with a grain of salt.

    • thijs

      i’m with you slumbergod, but …
      i’ve been using ubuntu since 7.4 and i must say that after each install there has been a point at which i ran into some sort of ‘serious’ problem (ranging from installing flash to compiling from source) that rendered my system unusable or even broke it.
      All those problems were probably my own fault -ik know, dont rub it in- but with each release i noticed that i could postpone building apps from source (and thus postpone me breaking my system ;-) longer and longer.

      At this point i am using 10.04 and i have been able to install 99% of the apps i need using the software center. I know that not everyone is a huge fan of the sw center, but this is ABSOLUTELY the way to go if you want to attract new users. I read somewhere that installing .deb packages will also be managed by sw centre for the 10.10 (?) and that again is a step in the right direction.

      For the first time i’m even using 10.04 at work now (dual booting with win7, but only booted into win7 2 or 3 times) and for me that is a pretty good indication that Ubuntu is indeed getting close to completion, not there yet, but close.

      in short : the close-but-not-just-there-yet feeling is slowly fading and will hopefully be replaced with a just-there feeling in the coming release(s)


    • Olivier Zanchetta

      I have to start with this first: I love Ubuntu, I love installing a new release every 6 months…

      But… I start to wish the release cycle was slower, say every year rather than every 6 months. I know, I know I can stay on an LTR version, but hey the temptation of the new releases is very difficult to resist!!!

    • arcavexx

      I do like Ubuntu, and being someone who’s technically minded i can cope with it quite well. However, whichever distribution of Linux i have used, and whatever GUI implementations they have put in place, i still find myself needing to use the command line for certain things – and i can’t see this ever changing with Linux.

      The average user manages to break Windows one way or another, and with Linux it is twice as easy to break it. Even the most “genned-up” of people can end up ruining their OS.

      As for proprietary software (including drivers), the Linux support for this has never been greater, but using WINE for some things you can’t live without still has its problems. For example, running a graphical game with OpenGL is a lot slower and looks a bit shoddy (in WINE) than with DirectX. The only nice thing about OpenGL is quicker loading times i’ve noticed.

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