Distributions: From Ubuntu to openSUSE and Pardus
Recent early development releases of the popular distributions provide a preview of what's to come, while some lesser known distributions reach new milestones. A new version of the KDE desktop is due by the end of the month.
by Alexandra Kleijn
Most Ubuntu users wanting to run a stable release are by now probably running the latest 9.04 "Jaunty Jackalope" version, while those interested in the development of the next verison have the second alpha release of the 9.10 "Karmic Koala" pre-view to play with (Alpha 3 is expected to be available on the 23rd of July). The Ubuntu developers are also working hard to complete a third major update to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Long Term Support). Ubuntu 8.04.3 LTS is scheduled to be available on the 16th of July. The Desktop Edition of the first Ubuntu release with Long Term Support, Ubuntu 6.06 "Dapper Drake", however, reached its end-of-life on the 14th of July and will receive no new updates, including security updates and critical fixes. The Ubuntu 6.06 LTS Server Edition, as usual, will be supported for longer and won't reach its end-of-life until June of 2011.
According to Mark Shuttleworth, the driving force behind Ubuntu, the next LTS release of Ubuntu may be delayed in an attempt to synchronise the Ubuntu and Debian releases as part of a "meta-release cycle". The expectation was that the next LTS version would be 10.04, due for release in April 2010, but now it may be either 10.04 or 10.10. Part of the delay is likely down to the planned incorporation of GNOME 3.0, which is due in March of 2010, around the same time as Ubuntu 10.04 is due.
Work has already begun behind the scenes on archive reorganisation. Over time, the release team wants to move away from the traditional way that they allocate packages. Currently the packages are separated into four separate components, main, restricted, universe, and multiverse. According to developer Colin Watson, the team is working on evolving their original design "into a more fine-grained system". The first changes will only reorganise the developer permissions scheme, meaning that the user-visible changes will take place in a later release. For the 9.10 "Karmic Koala" release, the project will transition from ubuntu-core-dev and MOTU teams to a "General developers" team. More details about the Archive Reorganisation and process changes will be finalised following upcoming Ubuntu Technical Board meetings and will be based on developer feedback.
The openSUSE developers have also started changing their development policies, to make it easier for developers outside of Novell to contribute. Previously, all code contributions required approval by a Novell developer. To enable the changes, the openSUSE Factory will be split into smaller projects, such as a GNOME factory and a Kernel factory. These components will be managed as individual projects with their own responsibilities. At the end of June, the openSUSE developers released the third milestone in the development of openSUSE 11.2, code named Fichte. A preliminary version of the fourth milestone is expected to be available on the 31st of July and the final release is scheduled for November.
At the end of June, the Mandriva developers released the first alpha of Mandriva Linux 2010. According to the developers, the main focus of the 2010 release, apart from including all of the previous security and bug fixes, is to improve the user experience for daily tasks. The final release of Mandriva 2010 is expected to be available on the 21st of October, 2009.