This post is a sequel to my “What I want in edgy+1″ post, which was written when the developer summit was first announced. Now that the summit (and the following company All Hands meeting) is over, and we’re all back home, this seems as good a time as any to review what was discussed and get a good idea of what feisty might look like.
I’ve touched on the problem of predicting time-based releases before. It’s both the gift and the curse of a time-based release schedule that work not completed in time can be deferred to a later release. So take the following with a pinch of salt, some of this may still not make it.
The general theme of dapper was to be a release that could be supported for a long term, conservatism was the goal. We did do some quite exciting work under the hood, such as the switch away from
hotplug to a fully
udev based system, but in general it wasn’t innovative or ground-breaking.
Edgy was intended to be more ground-breaking, but the practical matter of having only a few months to develop it and our own pride in shipping something that still worked meant that it turned out as a shinier, improved dapper.
So what’s feisty going to be like? Judging from the discussions at UDS, and the specifications that have been written, the general theme of feisty is to lead the way again with new technologies.
For the users, perhaps the most obvious change will be the active use of 3D acceleration to draw the desktop where hardware can support it (the issue of binary drivers has not yet been resolved).
Windows are more visually distinct from each other through shadows behind them, and transparency for the non-active windows. The relationship between different workspaces/viewports is much clearer as the transition is animated on a cube or sliding pane.
And for the bling crowd, window s can wobble, burn, explode or dissolve.
There are two different compositors being considered at this point,
beryl; we’re likely to decide which to use at Feature Freeze based on how well they’ve been fixed, developed and supported until that point.
Underneath the hood, the configuration of the X server will be simpler and more robust; so even the worst case will not leave you confined to a console without any help.
Networking in feisty should be a much more pleasurable experience. The Network Manager project, which has been waiting on the side lines for a couple of releases, may finally get a shot at being in the default installation. For the average user, this makes switching between wired and wireless networks, including setting up WEP and WPA much, much easier.
And what if there’s no network infrastructure around? Out of the box support for RFC 3927 link-local networks, and multi-cast DNS resolution (aka. Zeroconf), means that you just need to agree on a network name with others around you to be able to communicate.
Of course, once you’re on a network, you still need to be able to share files and access local services. The integration of the Avahi project gives you one-click access to other people’s shared music or files; and lets you share your own, should you choose to do so.
One of the most encountered problems with edgy was it being difficult to install various common packages that aren’t part of the default installation, especially codecs. Projects such as Automatix attempt to tackle this, but can cause problems with upgrading to later releases.
Some effort will be going into feisty to make performing these common customisations much simpler, including being able to install codecs or viewers by just trying to open the file.
A long-running project within Ubuntu has been to get the boot and shutdown sequences as fast and efficient as possible. At the time we started, it was common for a Linux distribution to boot in a mere two or three minutes.
If you thought edgy booted fast, wait until you see feisty.
Feisty is the release where we take full advantage of Upstart, not only bringing the system up as fast as possible but also more robustly than we can do today.
And if that weren’t enough, it should look slicker too; without some of the nasty flickering and mode changes that happen today.