Ubuntu's shiny 10th birthday Unicorn: An upgrade fantasy

Exciting possibilities. Just not yet

Hardware story

Among the notable updates to come down since the 3.13 kernel is stable support for Intel Broadwell CPU graphics, quite a few improvements for Nouveau (including the beginnings of NVIDIA Maxwell GPU support), support for NVIDIA Tegra PRIME and a new Synaptic input driver, which might fix misbehaving trackpads if you've had problems. A full list of what's new in 3.16 can be found here.

Unity itself has also had a slew of small improvements and bug fixes. Among the notable things in this extensive changelog are some HiDPI fixes that make Unity look nicer on high resolution screens. If you've got a HiDPI screen you might notice there's better UI scaling, nicer looking Dash Previews and some refinements to the lock screen.

That's about it for visible changes in this release, though.

Whether or not it's worth upgrading comes down to hardware support. If everything is working fine for you under 14.04, then stick with it - 14.10 is not the 'droid you're looking for. If, on the other hand, you've got new hardware that needs the latest kernel, 14.10 might be the easiest way to get it.

In a way it's fitting that Ubuntu's 10-year anniversary release isn't much of an update. Ubuntu has always been more focused on the exciting possibilities of the future and, that its currently pouring all its manpower into mobile demonstrates that, even a decade on, Ubuntu is still trying to push the boundaries of Linux.

Ubuntu 1410 browserUbuntu 1410 browser

Browsing in Ubuntu 14.10 (click to enlarge)

That Canonical has taken its developers off the desktop and put them to work exclusively on the future - Mir and Unity 8 - shows the company isn't resting on whatever laurels it may have accumulated over the last decade.

There are after all, plenty of Linux desktops with flashy new features if you really want something visibly different. Indeed all of the various Ubuntu flavors are turning out much more significant releases for 14.10 - in terms of new features anyway.

Ubuntu though has always been a risk-taking distro and it's nice to know, even if you don't always agree with its decisions, that it’s pushing the definition of what a Linux distro is. It polished the desktop and made it more welcoming to newcomers, something few other distros at the time were interested in doing. In doing so Ubuntu quickly became the most recognized name in Linux.

Ubuntu's role has changed over the years, but perhaps its most significant has been providing a gentle, welcome landing pad for Windows and other "switchers." While many might eventually move on to other distros, Ubuntu was and may well still be the gateway Linux distro.

What makes Ubuntu's mobile efforts so exciting is that the project might be able to do the same thing again, this time in the mobile world. And if Ubuntu can win new users over through the mobile space the way it has in the desktop space I'd argue the entire Linux community wins.

If you want to see what Unity 8 looks like and how it’s coming along, there is a new Ubuntu flavour called Ubuntu Next that you can download and test. Maybe.

Sometimes it installs for me in virtual machines, some times it does not. To say it's pre-release would be a significant understatement. But then, thus far, it's not even designed to run on a desktop so problems are to be expected

I suggest you skip Ubuntu Next. The first Ubuntu-powered mobile devices are supposedly going hit the market before the end of year. In the meantime, there's 14.10. ®

Other stories you might like

  • China’s COVID lockdowns bite e-commerce players
    CEO of e-tail market leader JD perhaps boldly points out wider economic impact of zero-virus stance

    The CEO of China’s top e-commerce company, JD, has pointed out the economic impact of China’s current COVID-19 lockdowns - and the news is not good.

    Speaking on the company’s Q1 2022 earnings call, JD Retail CEO Lei Xu said that the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic had brought positive effects for many Chinese e-tailers as buyer behaviour shifted to online purchases.

    But Lei said the current lengthy and strict lockdowns in Shanghai and Beijing, plus shorter restrictions in other large cities, have started to bite all online businesses as well as their real-world counterparts.

    Continue reading
  • Foxconn forms JV to build chip fab in Malaysia
    Can't say when, where, nor price tag. Has promised 40k wafers a month at between 28nm and 40nm

    Taiwanese contract manufacturer to the stars Foxconn is to build a chip fabrication plant in Malaysia.

    The planned factory will emit 12-inch wafers, with process nodes ranging from 28 to 40nm, and will have a capacity of 40,000 wafers a month. By way of comparison, semiconductor-centric analyst house IC Insights rates global wafer capacity at 21 million a month, and Taiwanese TSMC’s four “gigafabs” can each crank out 250,000 wafers a month.

    In terms of production volume and technology, this Malaysian facility will not therefore catapult Foxconn into the ranks of leading chipmakers.

    Continue reading
  • NASA's InSight doomed as Mars dust coats solar panels
    The little lander that couldn't (any longer)

    The Martian InSight lander will no longer be able to function within months as dust continues to pile up on its solar panels, starving it of energy, NASA reported on Tuesday.

    Launched from Earth in 2018, the six-metre-wide machine's mission was sent to study the Red Planet below its surface. InSight is armed with a range of instruments, including a robotic arm, seismometer, and a soil temperature sensor. Astronomers figured the data would help them understand how the rocky cores of planets in the Solar System formed and evolved over time.

    "InSight has transformed our understanding of the interiors of rocky planets and set the stage for future missions," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, said in a statement. "We can apply what we've learned about Mars' inner structure to Earth, the Moon, Venus, and even rocky planets in other solar systems."

    Continue reading
  • The ‘substantial contributions’ Intel has promised to boost RISC-V adoption
    With the benefit of maybe revitalizing the x86 giant’s foundry business

    Analysis Here's something that would have seemed outlandish only a few years ago: to help fuel Intel's future growth, the x86 giant has vowed to do what it can to make the open-source RISC-V ISA worthy of widespread adoption.

    In a presentation, an Intel representative shared some details of how the chipmaker plans to contribute to RISC-V as part of its bet that the instruction set architecture will fuel growth for its revitalized contract chip manufacturing business.

    While Intel invested in RISC-V chip designer SiFive in 2018, the semiconductor titan's intentions with RISC-V evolved last year when it revealed that the contract manufacturing business key to its comeback, Intel Foundry Services, would be willing to make chips compatible with x86, Arm, and RISC-V ISAs. The chipmaker then announced in February it joined RISC-V International, the ISA's governing body, and launched a $1 billion innovation fund that will support chip designers, including those making RISC-V components.

    Continue reading
  • FBI warns of North Korean cyberspies posing as foreign IT workers
    Looking for tech talent? Kim Jong-un's friendly freelancers, at your service

    Pay close attention to that resume before offering that work contract.

    The FBI, in a joint advisory with the US government Departments of State and Treasury, has warned that North Korea's cyberspies are posing as non-North-Korean IT workers to bag Western jobs to advance Kim Jong-un's nefarious pursuits.

    In guidance [PDF] issued this week, the Feds warned that these techies often use fake IDs and other documents to pose as non-North-Korean nationals to gain freelance employment in North America, Europe, and east Asia. Additionally, North Korean IT workers may accept foreign contracts and then outsource those projects to non-North-Korean folks.

    Continue reading
  • Elon Musk says Twitter buy 'cannot move forward' until spam stats spat settled
    A stunning surprise to no one in this Solar System

    Elon Musk said his bid to acquire and privatize Twitter "cannot move forward" until the social network proves its claim that fake bot accounts make up less than five per cent of all users.

    The world's richest meme lord formally launched efforts to take over Twitter last month after buying a 9.2 per cent stake in the biz. He declined an offer to join the board of directors, only to return asking if he could buy the social media platform outright at $54.20 per share. Twitter's board resisted Musk's plans at first, installing a "poison pill" to hamper a hostile takeover before accepting the deal, worth over $44 billion.

    But then it appears Musk spotted something in Twitter's latest filing to America's financial watchdog, the SEC. The paperwork asserted that "fewer than five percent" of Twitter's monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) in the first quarter of 2022 were fake or spammer accounts, which Musk objected to: he felt that figure should be a lot higher. He had earlier proclaimed that ridding Twitter of spam bots was a priority for him, post-takeover.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022