We'll see | Matt Zimmerman

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Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: How we get there

The development of Ubuntu 10.04 has been underway for nearly two months now, and will produce our third long-term (LTS) release in April. Rick Spencer, desktop engineering manager, summarized what’s ahead for the desktop team, and a similar update will be coming soon from Jos Boumans, our new engineering manager for the server team.

What I want to talk about, though, is not the individual projects we’re working on. I want to explain how the whole thing comes together, and what’s happening behind the scenes to make 10.04 LTS different from other Ubuntu releases.

Changing the focus

Robbie Williamson, engineering manager for the foundations team, has captured the big picture in the LTS release plan, the key elements of which are:

Merge from Debian testing

By merging from Debian testing, rather than the usual unstable, we aim to avoid regressions early in the release cycle which tend to block development work. So far, Lucid has been surprisingly usable in its first weeks, compared to previous Ubuntu releases.

Add fewer features

By starting fewer development projects, and opting for more testing projects over feature projects, we will free more time and energy for stabilization. This approach will help us to discover regressions earlier, and to fix them earlier as well. This doesn’t mean that Ubuntu 10.04 won’t have bugs (with hundreds of millions of lines of source code, there is no such thing as a bug-free system), but we believe it will help us to produce a system which is suitable for longer-term use by more risk-averse users.

Avoid major infrastructure changes

We will bring in less bleeding-edge code from upstream than usual, preferring to stay with more mature components. Where a major transition is brewing upstream, we will probably opt to defer it to the next Ubuntu cycle. While this might delay some new functionality slightly, we believe the additional stability is well worth it for an LTS release.

Extend beta testing

With less breakage early in the cycle, we plan to enter beta early. Traditionally, the beta period is when we receive the most user feedback, so we want to make the most of it. We’ll deliver a usable, beta-quality system substantially earlier than in 9.10, and our more adventurous users will be able to upgrade at that point with a reasonable expectation of stability.

Freeze with Debian

With Debian “squeeze” expected to freeze in March, Ubuntu and Debian will be stabilizing on similar timelines. This means that Debian and Ubuntu developers will be attacking the same bugs at the same time, creating more opportunities to join forces.

Staying on course

In addition, we’re rolling out some new tools and techniques to track our development work, which were pioneered by the desktop team in Ubuntu 9.10. We believe this will help us to stay on course, and make adjustments earlier when needed.  Taking some pages from the Agile software development playbook, we’ll be planning in smaller increments and tracking our progress using burn-down charts As always, we aim to make Ubuntu development as transparent as possible, so all of this information is posted publicly so that everyone can see how we’re doing.

Delivering for users

By making these changes, we aim to deliver for our users the right balance of stability and features that they expect from an Ubuntu LTS release. In particular, we want folks to feel confident deploying Ubuntu 10.04 in settings where it will be actively maintained for a period of years.


Written by Matt Zimmerman

December 23, 2009 at 09:00

14 Responses

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  1. […] the rest here: Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: How we get there « We'll see | Matt Zimmerman Рубрика: Разные рубрики | Метки: ahead-for, and-will, been-underway, […]

  2. […] So how does Ubuntu plan to ‘reign in the sprawl’ with respect to development of Lucid Lynx? I believe Matt Zimmerman, technical leader of the Ubuntu project, said it best on his blog. […]

  3. […] Zimmerman, el líder técnico del proyecto Ubuntu, ha explicado las claves de por qué la próxima versión de Ubuntu, que vendrá con tiempo de soporte extendido […]

  4. Oh thank god. I have been hoping this general design philosophy would be applied to the LTS releases for a long time. I love Ubuntu. I have since I first moved from Xandros to Dapper. It is a great system, and has done more to beautify Linux and make it more user friendly than any other distro out there. Regressions constantly hold it back.

    The only thing left that would make this dream like situation complete for me is if you keep your LTS release as front and center as your current bleeding edge release at all times. This LTS should have equal billing with 10.10, 11.04. etc. until the next LTS comes out, and have an explanation of what the differences are for users who are new to Linux and don’t know what they’re getting into. Add a support cycle that includes updates of major applications like OpenOffice and Firefox without updating any infrastructure for the life of the LTS release and you will have a truly solid product that is ready for pass consumption.

    Victor J Kinzer

    December 24, 2009 at 15:54

  5. […] Ubuntu 10.04 LTS: How we get there The development of Ubuntu 10.04 has been underway for nearly two months now, and will produce our third long-term (LTS) […] […]

    Top Posts — WordPress.com

    December 25, 2009 at 00:38

  6. Eventually what kills LTS releases for me is the unavailability of updated drivers since the release is frozen on a specific kernel version.

    For example, I regularly have my laptop replaced at work with more recent models, something which is out of my control. I had been using 8.04 happily for almost a year when I had the hardware change forced on me, which in turn also forced an OS change since the old kernel in 9.04 wouldn’t recognize the new wireless adapter. I spent almost 2 weeks installing every release since the last LTS before deciding on Jaunty (Karmic being too bleeding edge for critical work).

    It would be great if Lucid had kernel backports. I seem to remember a discussion among the developers along these lines.

    Oh, and fix pulseaudio while you’re at it… It’s been the component that’s given me the most headaches at home. I’ve went through 3 different hardware configurations since ubuntu started using PA, and it’s never failed to give me crackly sound at apparently random intervals, filling up /var/log/messages with cryptic warnings and (in Karmic) freezing up X(!). There are dozens of bugs open for all these issues and it would be nice to have this component stabilized for the next LTS. Or, dare I say it, go back to ALSA which has rarely failed to output sound as it’s supposed to.

    Dan L.

    December 26, 2009 at 11:50

    • Regarding the availability of newer drivers, the linux-backports-modules packages will often provide the newer modules needed, compiled for older kernels.

      Where a newer kernel is the only option, https://blueprints.edge.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/kernel-lucid-new-kernel-on-lts documents our current thinking on this.

      Regarding PulseAudio, the audio stack is working very well for us in 9.10. If you haven’t tried that yet, please give it a shot. If you still have problems, try a daily snapshot of Lucid and report a bug.

      Matt Zimmerman

      December 26, 2009 at 13:25

  7. I second Dan L. above regarding having kernel updates for LTS releases. I assume it’s technically possible. I guess it’s making sure the updates are 100% tested and reliable, so having enough manpower is a problem. If this can be pulled off for LTS releases Ubuntu will be one step ahead of the rest. Oh, doesn’t Red Hat release kernel updates for their RHEL?


    December 26, 2009 at 15:12

  8. Will it be possible to directly upgrade from Jaunty to Lucid? I’m quite satisfied with 9.04 so I don’t see any need to install Karmic. After all it takes a few hours.


    December 28, 2009 at 20:03

    • Agree with jenku. Would be happy to just upgrade to 10.04. I’ve been doing clean installs to avoid issues.


      December 30, 2009 at 23:32

    • This won’t be a supported upgrade path, but you can try it if you’re comfortable resolving any problems which might arise. I know of no reason it shouldn’t work, but we can only test a limited number of upgrade paths, and this isn’t one of them.

      You can always choose to install 10.04 over 9.04 while preserving your home directory. You’d need to reinstall any applications you added, and if you made manual customizations in /etc, you would need to redo those.

      Matt Zimmerman

      January 10, 2010 at 15:43

  9. […] a comment » A few months ago, I wrote about changes in our development process for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS in order to meet our goals for this long-term release. So, how has it turned […]

  10. […] So how does Ubuntu plan to 'reign in the sprawl' with respect to development of Lucid Lynx? I believe Matt Zimmerman, technical leader of the Ubuntu project, said it best on his blog. […]

  11. […] So how does Ubuntu plan to ‘reign in the sprawl’ with respect to development of Lucid Lynx? I believe Matt Zimmerman, technical leader of the Ubuntu project, said it best on his blog. […]

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