Ubuntu 20.10 goes full Raspberry Pi, from desktop to micro clouds: Full fat desktop on a Pi is usable

But company also has its eye on Kubernetes at the edge

Ubuntu 20.10 is out, with Canonical highlighting its Raspberry Pi support, including not only desktop support but also micro clouds based on MicroK8s, the company's lightweight Kubernetes distribution.

Codenamed "Groovy Gorilla," Ubuntu 20.10 is only supported for nine months, unlike its predecessor 20.04 which is a long-term support release. It is based on the 5.8 Linux kernel, which is a substantial upgrade from 5.4 as used in 20.10, with Btrfs RAID 1 support, USB 4 (based on Thunderbolt 3), updates to support features of recent CPUs Intel Ice Lake and Tiger Lake graphics, AMD Zen 3, and more. Also included by default is GNOME desktop 3.38, the latest version.

Ubuntu 20.10

Ubuntu 20.10 “Groovy Gorilla” is out now, but only supported for 9 months

Canonical has offered a Raspberry Pi image for Ubuntu Server for some time, and it has been possible to install a desktop, but what has changed is that there is now an official Ubuntu desktop image for Raspberry Pi 4. 4GB or more RAM is required, and a 8GB storage card is recommended (4GB minimum). The new Compute Module 4 is also supported. Ubuntu is more demanding than Raspbian which will run with 2GB RAM.

Ubuntu's resource manager on a Pi, with not much more than LibreOffice running

Ubuntu's resource manager on a Pi, with not much more than LibreOffice running

Part of this review was written in 64-bit Ubuntu Desktop on a Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB RAM. The good news is that it is perfectly usable. Installation is slick, with pretty images of what is coming.

The essentials for a desktop experience are pre-installed: LibreOffice 7, Firefox, Thunderbird for email, Rhythmbox for music, GNOME image viewer, Shotwell photo viewer and editor, and of course the Ubuntu Software Center to find and install further applications. It does feel sluggish compared to a modern desktop PC, but that is to be expected.

The About screen on a Pi seems uncertain of disk capacity or processor!

The "About" screen on a Pi seems uncertain of disk capacity or processor

The range of applications users can install is also limited, partly by system specification, and partly by what is available in ARM builds. Visual Studio Code, a particularly useful application for programming, is not yet in the Software Center, but we were able to install by downloading the recent official ARM64 build and installing from the terminal.

Is it worth running Ubuntu Desktop rather than Raspbian, or even Ubuntu with a lightweight desktop such as Lubuntu? It is a matter of priorities. Ubuntu Desktop is less snappy than Raspbian (though it seems faster than 20.04 in our experience so far), but you do get the familiar Ubuntu experience.

Microk8s on a Raspberry Pi is aimed at edge or IoT solutions

Microk8s on a Raspberry Pi is aimed at edge or IoT solutions

When it comes to the Pi, Canonical is likely most interested in the possibilities for distributed applications. A Pi can become a Kubernetes node thanks to MicroK8s, a minimal Kubernetes distribution packaged as a Snap, the Ubuntu packaging system. Installation on a Pi is therefore a matter of typing:

sudo snap install microk8s --classic

Then you can start, inspect or stop MicroK8s, and join it to other nodes. Once you have three nodes, there is automatic high availability using Dqlite (Distributed SQLite), and you can start deploying containers with kubectl. Canonical has invited users to "experiment, test or develop with full cloud capabilities through the Raspberry Pi."

The company will be hoping to attract enterprises with IoT deployments or use cases for edge computing.

OpenStack users will find the latest Victoria release now available in Ubuntu 20.10, though the release notes observe that "upgrading an OpenStack deployment is a non-trivial process," probably an understatement.

Pi aside, this is not the biggest of Ubuntu releases but keeps the momentum going for Canonical's distribution, hugely popular for server use on public cloud and becoming more polished for desktop users too. ®

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022