Ubuntu release could stir the Linux pot with delighted users

October 22, 2019 by Nancy Cohen, Phys.org
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Ubuntu 19.10. Kubernetes at the edge. Integrated AI and machine learning. Those were a few of the top notes bleated out by Canonical, sounding its trumpet on October 17 with its announcement of the Ubuntu 19.10 release.

What's the big deal? The new release accelerates developer productivity when working on AI/machine learning projects. They said the new release delivered "edge capabilities for MicroK8s." Thirdly, the release delivered "the fastest GNOME desktop performance."

Elaborating on those top notes, the announcement looked at the Kubernetes environment: "Strict confinement ensures complete isolation and a tightly secured production-grade Kubernetes environment, all in a small footprint ideal for edge gateways. MicroK8s add-ons—including Istio, Knative, CoreDNS, Prometheus, and Jaeger—can now be deployed securely at the edge with a single command."

What is Kubernetes? Kevin Casey in The Enterprisers Project, said the platform was first developed by a team at Google, and later donated to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). It automates Linux container operations. Casey quoted Kimoon Kim, a senior architect: "Kubernetes is software that manages many server computers and runs a large number of programs across those computers. On Kubernetes, all programs run in containers so that they can be isolated from each other, and be easy to develop and deploy."

For those less sophisticated in Canonical's language, at least know this: Expect all that Ubuntu power in an attractive way. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B is supported by Ubuntu 19.10. "With the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, developers get access to a low-cost board, powerful enough to orchestrate workloads at the edge with MicroK8s," said Canonical.

Canonical emphasized a "long-term commitment to open infrastructure and improving the cost of cloud operations." Toward this end, "Ubuntu 19.10 ships with the Train release of Charmed OpenStack."

Other items mentioned: You get the ability to drag and drop icons into categorized folders. Users can select light or dark Yaru theme variants for viewing. Native support for ZFS on the root partition is introduced as an experimental desktop installer option. Users get to boot to a previous update and roll forwards and backwards in case of failure.

A download link brings you to the release. First, be aware of Ubuntu's release notes . They specify the life span of different flavors.

"The 'main' archive of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will be supported for 5 years until April 2023." They said that "The latest version of the Ubuntu operating system for desktop PCs and laptops, Ubuntu 19.10 comes with nine months, until July 2020, of security and maintenance updates."

Turning to the inclusion of GNOME 3.34, the company said that in addition to the speed benefit, the GNOME 3.34 includes a lot of bug fixes.

It's a fitting pause here to acknowledge the significance of last year's launch of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Linux Journal explained why that was important..."because Canonical will support it for five years, making it one of the relatively rare LTS products in Ubuntu's history. Ubuntu 18.04 also marks a high-profile return to GNOME as the default desktop," said Glyn Moody.

At that time, the launch of 18.04LTS started a conversation over Canonical seeking attention for artificial intelligence work. Canonical had said the version was optimized for AI, wrote Moody, "thanks to an open-source project called Kubeflow: 'A Composable, Portable, Scalable [Machine Learning] Stack Built for Kubernetes'."

In the big picture, "Today, the top 500 most powerful computers in the world all run some variety of Linux," said Moody in Linux Journal. The reasons given included customizability, established reliability and low cost.

So, should one forget about past talk predicting Linux will rise for the desktop? A Linux evangelist's dream long gone?

ZDNet weighed in on what the new release can tell us abut Canonical's position on Linux for the desktop. Ubuntu has not turned its back on the Linux desktop. Steven Vaughan-Nichols: "In an interview, Canonical CEO and founder Mark Shuttleworth explained: 'We never got the desktop into the consumer space. We're still happy to give developers and system admins a platform. We're still passionate about the Linux desktop.'"

In fact, though the author said Mint still was his favorite Linux desktop, he "will be taking a long, hard look at Ubuntu 19.10." ZDNet also weighed in with a comment that "gamers will be delighted with Ubuntu 19.10 built-in NVIDIA drivers."

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