Sneek Peek – Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin
With the Ubuntu developers summit wrapping up last Friday, there is some news of what to expect for the upcoming release of version 12.04, Precise Pangolin (a scaly anteater). Keep in mind that this is a LTS (long term support) release, so there isn’t going to be anything Earth shattering in the announcements due to the fact that Canonical and the Ubuntu development team will spend five years supporting Precise Pangolin in an effort to clean up as many bugs and functionality issues as possible. That being said, there was still some interesting news and features discussed during the week long event that will interest devotees of the open platform.
Larger install ISO and 64-bit images
Precise Pangolin (PP) will give developers a bit more room to work with in the install image for 12.04, as the decision was made to increase the build to 750MB. This 50 megabyte increase means that the install will no longer fit onto CD media, forcing users to either burn to a DVD or use a memory stick to install the OS. This was to be expected and honestly nothing major as DVD burners are now the norm. The only issue will be builds that use older hardware for server purposes or storage, a simple thing to work around.
Another step forward for the platform is the confirmed switch to 64-bit images as the standard download on the Ubuntu site. Currently, because of limitations in running some 32-bit applications on the 64-bit install, users are prompted to download a 32-bit ISO to cut down on issues. PP will do away with this thanks to those bugs being ironed out, allowing all users to take advantage of the larger architecture that comes with 64-bit computing.
Unity here to stay, Ubuntu to push towards phones and tablets
Mark Shuttleworth (founder of the Ubuntu project) made it clear during his opening keynote address that the Unity interface is here to stay, despite myriad complaints dealing with the new addition to desktop management. He also added that he would be pushing Canonical and the Ubuntu development team to have the platform ready to be put onto phone and tablet devices within two years. This does not come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with Ubuntu, especially critics of Unity that claim that Shuttleworth and Canonical are using it to make the move into mobile, rather than making the Ubuntu product better for its users.
Whether or not Canonical has any ulterior motive is unknown, but keeping Unity is not a popular option by any means, and indeed has forced some users to abandon Ubuntu all together. It will be interesting to see what develops out of the statements made by Shuttleworth, and to see if Ubuntu can actually make it to mobile devices.
One cloud and other miscellaneous changes
Ubuntu One is a cloud storage service which allows a user to access their content anywhere they have internet access. Canonical wants to make the login for this service the default for users, allowing them to sign into any Ubuntu-powered machine and get access to their default settings and files. Of course the underlying reason for this change is monetary: If they force all users to sign up for the One cloud service, they will be exposed to the marketing plans to get them to convert from the free 5GB of storage into a paid plan with more space. Pretty typical of the cloud storage industry as a whole, and not surprising in the least.
Miscellaneous changes that were discussed during the week:
- Improvements in the Ubuntu Software Center were announced, mostly in startup time. Right now the average load time for the application is about 11 seconds; PP will feature a two-second launch which is a drastic improvement.
- PP will be sticking with GNOME 3.2 as 3.4 will only be released a month before 12.04. It is expected that the update will be put into the build sometime in the future.
- Banshee, the media player installed as a default application on install, is scheduled to be removed from the build and Rhythmbox put back in. Banshee replaced Rhythmbox, but due to some compatibility issues needs to be replaced for the time being.
As mentioned before, 12.04 is a long term release dedicated to cleaning up the platform. Users should expect no major change announcements until later versions. PP is schedule for release in April of 2012.