Friday, April 25, 2008

Hardy Heron

One of the things I love about running Ubuntu is that every 6 months I get a 'new' operating system. This time, it's the upgrade to Ubuntu 8.04, codenamed Hardy Heron.

I've done this once before (7.04->7.10) and the experience is the same - on the day of the release, you click the upgrade button, hang around while it downloads all the new files, and then reset to a new system.

Here's the thing - everything still works after the reset, and you get a couple of new features. Of course, this is considerably better than Windows.

Being a partial Linux fanboy, I trolled around for sites talking about the upgrade (there were several about new features as they were announced) and came across this piece on the Linux Format site. Other than it's blahblah writing style, I paused when I read: an LTS (Long Term Service - pe) release... [Hardy Heron] will be supported for three years... to give corporate users the reassurance that they are getting something stable. However, having said that, the release cycle for this version was the normal six month cycle, so there's been no surface change to the work rate that has gone into the Hardy Heron ... To be honest, when the delay to Dapper was announced, it communicated that Ubuntu and Canonical were committed to delivering a quality release. Looking at it this way, Hardy feels like just another notch on the bed head of Ubuntu, which is a shame.
Are they saying that because the release was delivered on time, that means It wasn't significant? When a game company, or a filmmaker delays a release date, it usually means something's going wrong.* As a student, when I ask for an extension, the product is usually far from my best work. Would the author feel better if he knew the product wasn't available 'til 9 AM central time, a full 15 hours into the Grenwich mean time day? Also, see what I mean about the writing? Doughy, doughy, doughy (I admit this isn't often my best work, but I hope I'm not that bad)

Of course, that sentiment contrasts with:
The development of Ubuntu has not let up since 6.06 (the last LTS -pe) got out the door, with some impressive releases that have lead up to this point in time.
So they have been working on this LTS for more than six months... right? From my perspective, it seems like what makes an LTS and LTS isn't the work that's put into it before release, but whether it is Supported over the Long Term.

The Linux Format article also included a discussion of some theoretical interest
With the 6.06 release, Kubuntu (Ubuntu + the KDE environment**) was classed under the LTS banner; however, with the advent of 8.04, this is not the case due to the... recent release of KDE 4. ...KDE 4 was [considered] too new to be... stab[le]... for a[n] LTS release, [and it would be ] difficult to... support... KDE 3.5 over the next three years. This is... understandable, but...inconsistent as Ubuntu 8.04 ships with Firefox 3 Beta 5... with which we've had minor stability issues.

I invite you to read the tortured original. My opinion? Apples and Oranges. Firefox may be the most used program on my computer (and probably most others) but it is just a program. KDE is an environment, several programs that run in that environment, and the toolkit used to add programs to that environment. Instability there has much wider ramifications. A downgrade to Firefox 2.x*** is easy. A downgrade to KDE 3.5 may be impossible.

This also has something to do with the fact that Ubuntu releases occur 'like clockwork' not only 6 months after one another, but also 1 month after the most recent GNOME release. Since Ubuntu is coordinated with GNOME, that means it's not coordinated to KDE.

Presumably, the customer also matters. I'll probably upgrade to Ubuntu 8.10 in October. A smaller number of critical users and servers will be the ones still using Hardy Heron in 2013. It makes sense to get them all on the same platform to decrease duplication.

Also, screw KDE. I did a test install on my laptop, and it ran slightly faster than Windows Vista. Even my tower stalled a bit. If Ubuntu is going to be the desktop Linux, it should, you know, run on computers people actually use.****

*: I'll make no mention of Windows since, as far as I can remember, no version has ever been released on time

**: KDE = K desktop environment**2, as opposed to the Gnome environment that comes standard with Ubuntu.

**2: Environment = does not translate into Windows world, but do you know how all windows, buttons, menus, icons, text fields etc. in Windows look the same? And how all the windows, buttons, menus, icons, text fields, etc. on a Mac look the same between programs, but always different from Windows? That look and feel is the 'environment.' Also part of that environment is a standard set of programs akin to Notepad, Windows Media Player, Paint, Calculator, Internet Explorer.

***: Firefox 2.x is probably the least stable program on my computer, a comment I have heard from other Ubuntu users.

****: Part of the age-old battle in the linux community. The desktop people have traditionally lost because most of the people paid to work on linux are using servers and other high-end machines.

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