Archive for April, 2008

The Heron takes flight

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Hearty congratulations to the entire Ubuntu community on the successful launch of 8.04 LTS. This was our best release cycle ever, from the planning at UDS-Boston last year, at which we had many different teams and companies, to the beta process which attracted so much in the way of testing and patches. I think we can be justifiably proud of the quality of 8.04 LTS. From the code to the documentation, from translations to advocacy, this has been a team effort with the shared goal of delivering the very best free software experience to the very widest possible audience. May Hardy be both enduring and endearing.

I’m very conscious of the fact that Ubuntu is the pointy edge of a very large wedge – we are the conduit, but we exist only because of the extraordinary dedication and effort of thousands of other communities and projects. We all owe a great deal to the team who make Debian’s “unstable” repository possible, and of course to the upstream projects from GNOME and KDE through to the Linux kernel. We hope you will be proud of the condition in which we have carried your excellent work through to the users of Ubuntu.

So, well done everybody! I hope that friends, family, colleagues and others will have the opportunity to try it out and understand why we have all devoted so much to this project. Our work is deeply important – we are helping to bring free software to a new level of acceptance and adoption in the wider world.  Ubuntu’s success adds to the success of free software. So as much as it is fun, challenging, the opportunity of a lifetime, a profession for some and a passion for others, it’s also changing the world. I don’t exactly want to shout “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” but to me you are all Heroes.


Playing nicely with Windows

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Windows is a very important platform, and our justifiable pride in Linux and the GNU stack shouldn’t blind us to the importance of delivering software that is widely useful. I believe in bringing free software to people in a way that is exciting and empowering to them, and one of the key ways to do that is to show them amazing free software running on their familiar platform, whether that’s Windows or the MacOS.

Firefox, for example, is an inspiring free software success story, and I’m certain that a key driver of that success is their excellent support for the Windows environment. It’s a quick download and an easy install that Just Works, after which people can actually FEEL that free software delivers an innovative and powerful browsing experience that is plainly better than the proprietary alternatives. I’ve noticed that many of the best free software projects have a good Windows story. MySQL and PostgreSQL both do. Bazaar works well too. And users love it – users that may then be willing to take a step closer to living in the GNU world entirely.

So, I was absolutely delighted with the way Agostino Russo and Evan Dandrea steered the Windows-native installer for Ubuntu into 8.04 LTS. What I think is really classy about it is the way it uses the Windows Boot Manager sensibly to offer you the Ubuntu option. If I was a Windows user who was intrigued but nervous about Linux, this would be a really great way to get a taste of it, at low risk. Being able to install and uninstall a Linux OS as if it were a Windows app is a brilliant innovation. Kudos to Agostino and Evan, and of course also to the guys who pioneered this sort of thinking (it’s been done in a number of different ways). It looks crisp, clean and very professional:

Ubuntu being installed through Windows

I’m a little daunted at something as new as WUBI being the very first experience that people have of Linux, free software and Ubuntu, but initial reports are positive.  I did have a question from the media that started with “it didn’t work for me but…” which makes me a wee bit nervous.

So – yesterday I suggested folks hammer on the Heron for servers, today, here’s a call for folks who have a Windows machine and would like to see WUBI in action to test it out and let the developers know if there are any last-minute gotchas. Happy hunting!

Hammering on the Heron

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Reports of beta testing for 8.04 LTS seem very positive all round, to the great credit of the desktop and server teams who have been working so hard to make Hardy Heron rock. I have been running Hardy on my laptop through most of the cycle, but took the plunge on my home firewall and desktop (Kubuntu) machine this weekend.

The coolest part of the firewall upgrade is the fact that Michael has made the release upgrade tool independent of the GUI, so you can use it for server upgrades too.

So, now would be a great time to test the upgrade! File bugs if you run into any issues with your particular configuration. Apparently, this is upported on both Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Dapper) and Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy), so feedback on either upgrade path would be most welcome.

sudo aptitude install update-manager-core

That should make sure you have the release upgrade tool installed. Now you can trigger the upgrade process to the current beta:

sudo do-release-upgrade --devel-release

This should fetch the latest version of the update tool, which knows about various transitions in library versions etc so that it can attempt to update your machine smoothly without leaving large amounts of dangling packages. You can say “no” if you don’t like the proposed package install and removal plan (in which case, your feedback would be very valuable!).

For fresh installs, 8.04 LTS should be good to go on any high-volume server platform available in the market today – let the server team know if you run into any problems at all. They are hoping to meet the desktop team’s “Just Works” standard, so the bar is set pretty high. From my perspective, the upgrade was smooth – full marks and my thanks to everyone involved.