Precision Planning; Prepping for 12.04 LTS

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

In just over a week, quite a large cross-section of the Ubuntu community and representatives from many free software projects and companies will gather in Orlando to map out the Precise Pangolin. Now’s the time to prepare for the event, with 11.10 out (well done everybody!) and the key infrastructure slotting into place.

Figuring out the optimal balance of goals is the work of the summit, but we can lay out some over-arching themes that have been in progress during this meta-cycle and come to their full fruition in the LTS release. We can also remind ourselves of the ways in which an LTS is different, and the impact that will have on our choices in Orlando.

Being an LTS

As Dustin pointed out, this is the fourth Ubuntu LTS release, and as such it needs to carry on, and entrench, the reputation of the LTS as a carrier-grade platform for mission-critical server deployments and large scale desktop deployments. That means:

  • Adjusting the cycle to allocate more time for resolving issues
  • Introducing minimal new infrastructure or platform-visible change
  • Goal-driven and continuously benchmarked programs of action around performance
  • First-class accessibility for those with special interaction needs
  • Enablement and certification of the sorts of hardware people will deploy at scale and in the datacenter
Rick Spencer and his team have put some thought into one of the critical challenges that LTS releases face, which is the need to support newer hardware over a longer period of time. Traditionally, Linux distributions have tried to prioritize items to backport, but that puts the stability of known-good configurations very much at risk. Rick will outline the strategy we’ll adopt for this at UDS, which I think makes the most out of the work done for every release of Ubuntu.

Carrier-grade Cloud Infrastructure and Guest

Ubuntu is the #1 OS for cloud computing, whether you measure it by the number of instances running on all the major public clouds, the number of Ubuntu-based cloud appliances, the number of public and private clouds running on Ubuntu host OS. The extraordinary diversity of the Ubuntu community, the calibre of collaboration between Ubuntu and OpenStack, and the focused efforts of Canonical to make Ubuntu useful in the cloud have all contributed to that position. In 12.04 LTS we must deliver:

  • world’s best cloud infrastructure powered by OpenStack’s corresponding major release
  • perfect support for cloud-oriented hardware from Canonical’s partner IHV’s
  • a great hybrid-cloud story, for those using a mixture of private and public clouds
  • world’s best guest OS on AWS, Rackspace and other public cloud infrastructures
A key focus is making it easy to bootstrap and manage services across public, private and hybrid clouds, and Juju charms are the magic by which we’re flattening all those cloud substrates and bringing devops practices into the Ubuntu administrator toolbox. Those who attended the recent OpenStack Summit will have caught the buzz around Juju, which brings APT-like semantics to cloud service deployments. There’s a rapidly growing collection of Juju charms which define common services and allow you to get started immediately on all the major public and private cloud infrastructures; I keep hearing how clean and easy it is to charm a new piece of software for cloud deployment so I’m sure both the number of charms and charmers will grow exponentially.
Right now Juju charms can be deployed on bare-metal farms of hardware with no virtualisation, such as Hadoop or Condor compute clusters, Amazon’s public cloud infrastructure, Ubuntu’s OpenStack-based cloud infrastructure, and on the developer workstation using LXC containers so developers can use charms locally which are then re-used by administrators deploying to the cloud. I think there are Juju contributors working on support for a few other cloud infrastructures too, it will be interesting to see what lands by 12.04.

Pangolin-worthy Server Release

We have a proud heritage from Debian which 12.04 LTS needs to celebrate and maintain; although we have some key advantages for enterprises deploying Ubuntu over Debian in our ability to enable some additional security features in the Linux kernel and toolchain, as well as support, certification and assurance, the lean-mean-green-machine nature of the Ubuntu Server experience owes much to Debian’s focus on quality and precision.

12.04 will be the first LTS to support the ARM architecture on selected ARM SoC parts. In a world where computational density is increasingly prioritized over single-thread performance, the entry of ARM to the server market is a very interesting shift. Ubuntu has established a very strong competence in ARM and I think the 12.04 LTS release will power a new generation of power-focused hardware for the data centre.

Pixel-perfect desktop

The nail-biting transitions to Unity and Gnome 3 are behind us, so this cycle is an opportunity to put perfection front and center. We have a gorgeous typeface that was designed for readability, which is now available in Light and Medium as well as Regular and Bold, and has a Mono variant as well. That’s an opportunity to work through the whole desktop interface and make sure we’re using exactly the right weight in each place, bringing the work we’ve been doing for several cycles fully into focus.

We also need to do justice to the fact that 12.04 LTS will be the preferred desktop for many of the world’s biggest Linux desktop deployments, in some cases exceeding half a million desktops in a single institution. So 12.04 is also an opportunity to ensure that our desktop is manageable at scale, that it can be locked down in the ways institutions need, and that it can be upgraded from 10.04 LTS smoothly as promised. Support for multiple monitors will improve, since that’s a common workplace requirement.

During UDS we’ll build out the list of areas for refinement, polish and ‘precisioneering’, but the theme for all of this work is one of continuous improvement; no new major infrastructure, no work on pieces which are not design-complete at the conclusion of the summit.

While there are some remaining areas we’d like to tweak the user experience, they will probably be put on hold so we can focus on polish, performance and predictability. I’d like to improve the user experience around Workspaces for power users, and we’ll publish our design work for that, but I think it would be wisest for us to defer that unless we get an early and effective contribution of that code.

It’s going to be a blast in Orlando, as UDS always manages to bring together a fantastic crowd. And it’s going to be a beautiful, memorable release of Ubuntu in April 2012!

115 Responses to “Precision Planning; Prepping for 12.04 LTS”

  1. Richard Says:

    I agree. I hope they realize it. it’s a real shame what they’ve done to the UI. Great in concept poor in execution.

  2. Richard Says:

    As a reference. I gave my mom the new version she’s in her 60’s and she’s been using gnome with compiz for a few years now. She was so confused and no matter how many lessons i gave her i had to get her xfce and set it up similarly. The global menu is definitely a dealbreaker for those coming from PC and older linux. Maybe there will be some mac converts but we want people to convert to linux from pc not to mac from pc. Why get linux when the mac interface is similar and more secure than pc and more apps available?

    Ubuntu used to be the middleground but now is more difficult to use than mac for converts. very sad. 🙁

  3. Colin Says:

    I have supported Ubuntu from the start with great enthusiasm. It released me from the upgrade cost cycle of commercial operating systems, and I loved the freedom. I mostly work with PCs, don’t game much and I do some electronics design. I have given Unity a good try, and I really wanted it to work. I’m really sorry to say this, but I found it too slow and inefficient, so I’ve gone over to Linux Mint. Mint has been fast and easy, I don’t care about bright colours and shiny effects. Sorry, but since Mint has announced it will not go with Unity, I’ve abandoned Ubuntu. I now have Mint on my work PC, and will change over my home PC soon. I’m really sorry to have to say this, but I feel totally let down. Good luck with it, Colin

  4. Ubuntu, Canonical mira al desktop dell’ufficio - The New Blog Times Says:

    […] essere per le versioni server della stessa distribuzione.Il fondatore, Mark Shuttleworth, lo ha ben chiarito in un un post sul proprio blog: “Abbiamo bisogno di far giustizia sul fatto che la versione […]

  5. francesco44 Says:

    Hello Marks, Hello everybody

    It is with a certain disappointment and sadness that I read all the commentary on this blog and many other blog. Obviously many of us left Unity for a return to the last LTS 10.04 or a conversion to Mint or or other distros.

    We all understand what the Canonical team under Mark’s Direction is trying to accomplish. This is obviously courageous….but if the efforts are made in a wrong direction (as it seems to be the case) will Marks, and the Canonical Folks can face the eventual failure and admit it?

    Although I WOULD LIKE a great success for Unity, it raises more disappointment and dissent than satisfaction.

    The diagnosis will be easy to make, not by the number of download, but by the number of regular update compares to older versions like 10.04, or other distros, like mint. There will be in these statistics an unescapable truth about failure or victory of Unity.

    As it seems so impossible to convince of a possible error so many people having produced such a enormous work and effort….we will have to wait the truth emerging from reality istself.

    As this will take at least on or two year….I prepare myself to use onlys the classic desktop (if it is still available in 12.04) or switch to Mint…waiting for the possible wake-up of Mark Shuttleworth and his team.

    With all my regret for this severe diagnosis about people I admire a lot…..but sometime, the truth is necessory.

    Certainly, up there, at Canonical they think that we are two or three old idiots or grinch flooding the blogs with our anti-Unity propaganda….I think we represent hundred thousand users….But only the future reality will tell

    All my wishes for a final “victory” of the Unity concept (but unfortunately I hardly beleive this will ever happen)

  6. Anthony Says:

    I’m not sure how much value there is in commenting – particularly after it’s been a few days, but here I go, anyhow.

    First, the common thread in all of the comments above is that we all love(d) Ubuntu. I picked Ubuntu years ago when it first started, and I’m still here with it – for good reason. Thanks for making Ubuntu what it is.

    That said, the other common thread is that Ubuntu is slowly losing it’s support for the diverse range of Gnu/Linux users that are out there. I’ve been a Kubuntu/compiz user for the past 4 years, and I’ve been disappointed with all of the breakage I’ve experienced in Kubuntu/Compiz since 10.10. (That was the last distribution for which compiz actually worked – and I’ve tested on a variety of hardware. So, I am looking forward to 12.04 exactly because the polish needs to catch up with the development work that’s gone on. I hope other people aren’t frustrated to the point where they give up, given that Pangolin looks like it will start addressing some of these concerns.

    In any case, my plea is that some of the polish that goes into Ubuntu 12.04 be spread to Kubuntu 12.04 – and that some effort is put into making sure that the changes made for Ubuntu/Unity be made with compatibility in mind. It’s been really tough watching commits be made to enhance Unity which have destroyed the ability to use compiz for those of us who don’t use it.

    I’m not going to pull out the “I’m going to switch soon” drama that I’ve seen above, ’cause I really do like Kubuntu – but I just wish I could share that love without all of the pains that Ubuntu/Unity development has inflicted on Kubuntu.

    Anyhow, thanks again – and thanks for listening.

  7. Orellana Says:

    Mark you’re smart, I’ll be quick on this suggestion / request beneficial to Ubuntu 12.04:

    1- Global Menu always visible, as this is a loss of productivity.

    These rounded top corners of the windows, when a light background or dark depending of selected theme, are serrated, please refine.

    2- I do not feel bad that comes by default Launcher on the left side ( for ubuntu identity ), but you must give the option of placing it down at least, made ​​some minor adaptations to the Dash and others to match Launcher position down and away you go. I assure you that share will rise enough Ubuntu users having this option.

    3- Debug code, optimize and increase performance by at least 60% compared to 11.10.

    4- Focus on 64-bit version above all, and for the 12.04 Put recommended the 64-bit download for home users. It´s the logical already

    5- For when DVD Rom, Put purchase CD/ DVD also available 64-bit version for home users.

    6- Translate to Spanish ( second language in the world )

    I hope to meet the first four, and last two are feasible and easy to make.

    To work hard, the effort will be rewarded in every way.

    Thanks Mark and proud of you.


  8. sibin Says:

    When it’s alpha available for testing.Which are the new features.What change on Unity theme

  9. Jonathan Says:

    As always, Thanks for doing this Mark. Giving the world a choice and an alternative, as good as Ubuntu. Its a great thing. Sure, OS is the focus now, but i also do hope that in the future some love can be given to core-apps, and also, that more and more developers feels the urge to do Linux/Ubuntu related development. Looking forward to every release. I used Ubuntu only since a couple of releases back, mostly happily:)

  10. Jonathan Says:

    Oh, and btw, Unity is the way to go, Went from sceptical, to love it!

  11. Simon Strandman Says:

    I wish you the best but this “Pixel-perfect desktop” seems unlikely to happen since unity is pretty much broken by design IMO. Unless there are plans to redesign unity but I guess that’s unlikely at this point

    For example, you are trying to force the concept of a global menu bar on applications that where never designed for one. So every application that does its own tricks to render the menu bar will be inconsistent with the rest of the desktop (unless you hack every single such application out there). And the fact that all menu operations has to pass through dbus is causing unnecessary latencies and cpu usage which is probably one reason why the global menu is slow.

    The new scrollbars has the same problem. And they break a well-known UI behavior and add visual complexity for a very slim gain in screen estate.

    The supposed advantages of designs are not good enough to justify the inconsistency, complexity and slowness.

    Also, why does the window decoration merge with the top panel when the window is maximized? From the visuals clues it looks like the network manager indicator, user switch menu, sound icon etc. are a part of the maximized application. And if you start another application it will be controlled by a menu bar that is a part of the other (maximized) application’s window. Wtf?

    There are other issues as well. I get the feeling that nobody thought things through properly before you started implementing various ideas.

    Gnome shell has its problems to but at least you can customize it with shell extensions.

  12. Craig Says:

    The nail-biting transitions to Unity and Gnome 3 are definitely NOT behind us! You have thrown out many years of research into Man Machine Interfaces, basically you’ve totally forgotten about the “Man” bit. Lovely looking as Unity may be to some, it’s lack of visual clues as to what’s going on (i.e. losing the bottom bar with minimised icons) and extra clicks to get to what you want show this. I’m very happy for you to smarten up the interface but don’t make me less productive. I’m sure it will all come home to roost big time when your half million user institutions suddenly get Unity or Gnome 3 after the lovely 10.04 LTS. Expect a serious backlash. An educational establishment may let you get away with it but commercial enterprises won’t.
    You seem to be hell-bent on forging forward listening only to the “yes men”. I’d love to see the research you’ve actually done with ex-Windows and ex-Mac users converting to Unity. Arrogance is a term used by some, I think I can see why.

  13. Miguel Says:

    Hello Mark!, thanks for your work, three petitions:

    1. Where are the windows ( When they were inactive ) with the zone transparent in the top ?, Return to them, complements the environment ! ( Only updated / adapted between quotes to the design of 12.04 )

    2. Zoom in the right down corner as Nautilus Elementary for archives & folders.

    3. Background by default more atractive, with colors blue, orange, leave this wallpaper current, create a most unique and charismatic to 12.04 LTS

    Ah! certainly, a +1000 🙂 to the petitions / request / suggestions of “Orellana”.

    A greeting.

  14. sibin Says:

    Unity interface is very slow in my computer.It slow in Old computers.Please lighten your new Unity Desktop interface

  15. Arthur Says:

    Good, the wallpaper by default don´t is most important, but yes is true that help, must be create for 12.04 LTS, a wallpaper original, as the of Windows 7 charismatic, but in Ubuntu, the actual wallpaper is “dizzy” and this very seen.

    Plus options of personalization in Unity, and the launcher in the bottom position as option.

    More fluent in Unity, por example; in Intel Quad Q8300, nVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT, 2 GB Ram, is regular, in PC´s with less potence, is poor.

    I use the 64 bits versión.

    Performance !, Performance !, Performance ! 😀

    Global Menu always visible, as it is now is not logical y as said above are lost seconds add up and a is lost productivity.

    Step by step, with ambition and hard work, but without neglect

    Increased support for peripherals, printers, scanners as:

    HP Photosmart D7460 Printer & Canon Canoscan Lide90 Scanner.

    I hope this news in 12.04 LTS for productivity.

    I’m going gradually leaving OS X 😉

    Ubuntu love.

    Regards, to the Ubuntu Team and to you Mark.