Sunday, March 06, 2011

Ubuntu Natty Alpha 3

Ubuntu Natty Alpha 3 has been released into the wild. Does this round of Ubuntu development cycle seem very unstable to you? I know if does for me. Of course, it's a development release so that is to be expected. Problem is, Ubuntu's development cycles have become rather "stable" over many cycles making this cycle rather an odd ball.

Here's why, if you're interested:

btrfs support - This cycle is the first time Ubuntu has btrfs as an option during installation. To add this support, changes had to be made to many critical system components and this includes grub2 and Ubiquity.

Python 2.7 support - Ubuntu is migrating over to a newer version of Python as default. Recent versions of Python are deprecating some older/obsolete features which means Ubuntu apps that use Python need to be migrated over to the newer standard. This way is less painful than a full on migration straight to Python 3.x. 1.10 - Every X server migration causes some pain and moving to a newer version this cycle merely adds to the pain that's already there. If you happen to use fairly new hardware that only has proprietary driver support then it's even worse. nVidia and AMD users beware.

New Upstart - The system start up service is also getting an upgrade to a newer version. Upstart jobs need to be updated for this.

New dpkg - A newer version of the package management tool from Debian.

Latest Kernel - The kernel gets updated every release but this time it just happens to also be the absolute latest and greatest. Vanilla kernel 2.6.38 is still in -rc. Imagine the madness if there's a regression in there somewhere.

Unity desktop as default - This isn't "just" a continuation of the development made in Ubuntu 10.10, it's a massive change worthy of being called a brand new desktop. Not only is Unity moving over to using Compiz as its backend but there's also Unity 2D being developed using Qt for desktops without GPU acceleration support. Needless to say, there's still a lot of things to polish on just Unity alone.

With so many big changes from top to bottom it's no wonder Natty is turning out to be a rather unstable beast. It's no simple version upgrade but many of the changes involve new features or are backward incompatible, requiring many other dependant packages to be rebuild to use the new components.

Related posts:

btrfs support is now available on Natty
Firefox 4 Beta 12 arrived