You might be able to tell that I meant to release this a while ago, like a month ago, but I forgot 😛
It’s that time of year again: time for a new Ubuntu release! Unfortunately as of late, the new releases haven’t been very exciting, but this latest release comes with some very exciting news indeed:
The Exciting News
Canonical has announced the end of its mobile convergence plans and Unity 8! This news shocked me a lot when I first heard it, because the work for these features has been going on for at least 3 years. I seriously thought it must have been a late April fools prank. But it isn’t, they’re really doing it: Ubuntu will revert to using the GNOME desktop starting with 18.04 LTS, which should be released about a year from now.
What if you’re one of the people who bought an Ubuntu Phone, or if you really like Unity 8? Worry not, because the UBPorts community team is going to pick up the effort, so these projects will continue to thrive. I have to say, I think Canonical have made a step in the right direction with this change, and it’s really nice to say that because I was very concerned about Ubuntu’s future, as you will be aware of if you read my recent post on Unity 8.
I’m glad that Canonical have decided to listen to the community on this one, as they were (in my opinion) starting to build a reputation for ignoring the community at this point. I do get why they do a lot of the things they do though. For example, not having the latest Unity release available for scrutiny until the stable Ubuntu release, because people do (rightly or wrongly) give them a lot of criticism.
What will happen next?
Ubuntu will adopt an approach more in-keeping with other Linux distros, using Wayland as the display server, and GNOME as the desktop environment as of Ubuntu 18.04. They have also recently announced that Snap packages will work on Fedora, which has to be good news, whatever you think about Snaps.
I’m really happy about what they decided to do, I think it will help them focus more on stability and creating what the community wants.
With that aside…
Ubuntu 17.04 seems to be another release that doesn’t have very many changes. It has the usual update to the Linux Kernel, X11, Mesa and various drivers, but doesn’t seem to have much in terms of feature updates. One interesting thing it does do, is use a swap file by default, rather than a swap partition. At least, I find it interesting XD. In case you don’t know, swap is storage space that’s used as RAM when your computer runs out of RAM. This also enables hibernation. Having a swap file is in a way a good idea, because now that PCs have a lot of RAM, you don’t necessarily want to set aside 8-16 GB of your disk space simply for swap that you might never use (especially if you have an SSD).
Instead, using a swap file means that this space is potentially reclaimable. Also, you can (probably) resize your swap space without doing risky partitioning operations on your drives. I have no idea how/if hibernating would work, but it’s a good idea in my opinion, and something I might well try doing.
Ubuntu 17.04 is an unusual mix of the standard lack of new features in Ubuntu, coupled with some exciting news about the future. It includes updates to the toolchain, and also a new way to handle swap space. What do you think of this release, and more importantly, about Canonical’s news? Let me know in the comments below.
That’s it from me this time, but I will shortly do a review of Elementary OS, as it’s something I’ve never tried before. That should make an interesting post, so stay tuned.