What’s New For Maverick Meerkat, The Next Release of Ubuntu

As many of you may know, the next release of Ubuntu, 10.10 (Code Named “Maverick Meerkat” is slated to be released on the 10th of October 2010. (For you math and/or Sci-Fi geeks, 10.10.10 translates to “42” which, as we all know from having seen/read “The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To the Galaxy”, is the answer to everything.) In this article, we’re going to go over what’s new in this release.

The Linux Kernel:

This release will feature a kernel based off version 2.6.35. As usual, it will contain bug fixes to both the core kernel as well as it’s modules. (for those not familiar with that term, they’re drivers) As well the introduction of new features. For all of you ATI users, the kernel now further supports the power saving profiles for these cards. For you Intel graphics users, myself being included, they didn’t forget about you guys either. The driver now includes everything needed to support the streaming of H.264 on the Iron lake CPU, which has graphics support built in. Also included, are the user-land tools to make all this happen. For those interested, please check out the Intel site at http://intellinuxgraphics.org/h264.html.

For any new File System support, the only thing I’ve really seen worth mentioning is that Btrfs now supports Direct I/O access, thus effectively bypassing the kernel cache which can be especially useful for those of you running databases that include integrated cache functions.

With regards to networking, the Atheros AR7010 and AR9271 chipsets are now officially supported by the kernel with the addition of the ath9k_htc driver.  Along with the addition of the ath9k_htc driver, additional improvements have been made to the  ath5k driver which will allow for better connection speeds and faster throughput in RF Noisy areas. Another addition for Intel is an experimental driver which will allow the kernel to directly control various aspects of Intel CPU control mechanisms which will help those who have a shoddy ACPI control interface in the BIOS.

Moving on to other enhancements of the kernel. Virtualization enhancements include one for the Linux KVM interface which will allow users to check up on a guest OS’s status from the host via the “perf” command. Other enhancements in this area are mainly improvements over existing technologies.

In the area of sound support, the ALSA sound drivers have not been neglected. ALSA now supports the ASI sound cards produced by AudioScience.

There have also been other additions to the kernel and the toolchain and related items this time around but for the sake  of time, I’m going to go head and end this part of the article here. Thanks to those of you who held with me for this long. And as always, thanks to the kernel.org team for doing such fine work.

GNOME

The plan for this release was to have finally migrated away from the 2.x line of GNOME to the new GNOME 3.0 desktop environment. However, due to issues out of the control of the Ubuntu developers, Gnome 3.0 will not be included with this release. The version of GNOME that will be included with Ubuntu 10.10 will 2.31.92, which, as I understand, will also be the final release of the GNOME 2.x line before retirement… That is if everything goes according to plan.

Say Goodbye to Firefox and F-Spot

Ubuntu 10.10 will no longer include the Mozilla Organization’s Firefox web browser by default though it will still available in the appropriate repository if you would like to install it afterward. The browser intended to replace Firefox will be chromium, which is the open source cousin to Google’s Chrome web browser. The reason stated for this change is that chromium is by far faster, thus further improving the overall speedy experience that 10.10 will surely be. Also out for this release is the F-Spot photo management software in favor for the Shotwell Photo Manager.

Even Faster Boot Time

As always, the Ubuntu development team is constantly seeking ways to increase the boot time speeds. With the addition of version 2.6.35 of the Linux Kernel and the usual improvements to upstart, that should turn out to be interesting. My personal system on which I’m writing this article currently has Ubuntu 10.10 installed and my boot time is around 9 seconds. Try to beat that, Windows.

In The End

While I’m sure I’ve forgotten some things for this article I can assure you that this release is going to turn out to be a good one. It is sure to meet or exceed the high expectations that Ubuntu often sets for themselves and the rest of the community. I would like to thank Andy and the team at Tech Talk Radio for allowing me to make this contribution and I most certainly look forward to future posts.

4 thoughts on “What’s New For Maverick Meerkat, The Next Release of Ubuntu”

  1. Andy.. I’ve been starting to read things from people “in the know” (according to them, of course) and they’re starting to mumble little somethings about things being pushed back, but according to all my contacts at Canonical, they haven’t told me otherwise so as such, I’m standing by the timeline at this time. I will check the current release schedule and see if anything’s been updated there, but I highly doubt that anything’s changed at this time.

  2. Replacing Firefox as the default browser IMO is a mistake. I would rather see Canonical release Ubuntu with an option during installation that allows the user to choose between the following browsers.

    Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera. + others!

    I have been using Ubuntu for a very long time! It is difficult for me see any other browser but Firefox installed by default. I’m sure the reasons for this is stickily monetary.

  3. You’ll never see Chrome or Opera even offered as a default option. Since they are not under a compatible license, it’s against the Ubuntu Project’s Mission Statement to not install any encumbered software if it can be helped.

    Now with regards to your comment, I’ve seen that very option in discussion in the “brainstorming” forums for years now and for some reason I don’t know why they haven’t implemented it. I think it would be interesting to see a sub menu like that in the *default* installer. If you’re brave enough and want to try it, you can always install from a mini-iso and tasksel it and everything else you want in your default desktop install. Another thing you can do is check out kickstart and use the alternative CD to install with a ks. That’s generally what I do.

    With regards to your comments that it’s strictly monetary. I’d have to disagree with you for one reason only. It’s not Chrome. Google is NOT going to pay Canonical to have Chrome installed on every install out of the box because Ubuntu wouldn’t do it. They’d laugh at them and tell them where to go. Instead, Chrome and even Chromium are fast. It’s one of the fastest browsers I’ve ever seen and I personally use the Chrome Unstable branch as my default browser with little to no problems. It definitely has my vote as being one of the best browsers out there and I’m glad to see that Mozilla has a real competitor now in Google. Fire Fox over the years really has just become a bloated monster and I’m hoping that they’re going to take a few lessons and get back into actual competition with a better browser.

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