Ubuntu Archive

Ubuntu 24.04 supports easy installation of OpenZFS root file-system with encryption

So with Ubuntu 24.04 LTS is the ability to continue with a standard EXT4 file-system install, an encrypted file-system using LVM, or using OpenZFS with/without encryption. Ubuntu 24.04 LTS also has the ability to enjoy hardware-backed full-disk encryption with TPM as another new experimental option. Or, of course, the Ubuntu desktop installer continues supporting manual (custom) partitioning as well. ↫ Michael Larabel I just use whatever Btrfs setup Fedora automatically recommends when I let it take over a disk – file systems for desktops seems a bit like a solved problem to me personally – but I’m still curious what benefits, for instance, an OpenZFS setup could bring to a desktop user compared to Btrfs or a basic Ext4 setup. Why should a desktop user use OpenZFS?

Ubuntu will manually review Snap Store after crypto wallet scams

The Snap Store, where containerized Snap apps are distributed for Ubuntu’s Linux distribution, has been attacked for months by fake crypto wallet uploads that seek to steal users’ currencies. As a result, engineers at Ubuntu’s parent firm are now manually reviewing apps uploaded to the store before they are available. The move follows weeks of reporting by Alan Pope, a former Canonical/Ubuntu staffer on the Snapcraft team, who is still very active in the ecosystem. In February, Pope blogged about how one bitcoin investor lost nine bitcoins (about $490,000 at the time) by using an “Exodus Wallet” app from the Snap store. Exodus is a known cryptocurrency wallet, but this wallet was not from that entity. As detailed by one user wondering what happened on the Snapcraft forums, the wallet immediately transferred his entire balance to an unknown address after a 12-word recovery phrase was entered (which Exodus tells you on support pages never to do). ↫ Kevin Purdy at Ars Tecnhica Cryptocurrency, or as I like to call it, MLMs for men, are a scammer’s goldmine. It’s a scam used to scam people. Add in a poorly maintained application store like Ubuntu’s Snap Store, and it’s dangerous mix of incompetence and scammers. I honestly thought Canonical already nominally checked the Snap Store – as one of its redeeming features, perhaps its only redeeming feature – but it turns out anyone could just upload whatever they wanted and have it appear in the store application on every Ubuntu installation. Excellent.

Canonical expands Long Term Support to 12 years starting with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Today, Canonical announced the general availability of Legacy Support, an Ubuntu Pro add-on that expands security and support coverage for Ubuntu LTS releases to 12 years. The add-on will be available for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS onwards.  Long term supported Ubuntu releases get five years of standard security maintenance on the main Ubuntu repository. Ubuntu Pro expands that commitment to 10 years on both the main and universe repositories, providing enterprises and end users alike access to a vast secure open source software library. The subscription also comes with a phone and ticket support tier. Ubuntu Pro paying customers can purchase an extra two years of security maintenance and support with the new Legacy Support add-on. ↫ Canonical blog Assuming all of this respects the open source licenses of the countless software packages that make up Ubuntu, this seems like a reasonable way to offer quite a long support lifecycle for those that really need it. Such support doesn’t come free, and it I think it’s entirely reasonable to try and get compensated for the work required in maintaining that level of support for 10 or 12 years. If you want this kind of longevity from your Linux installation without paying for it, you’ll have to maintain it yourself. Seems reasonable to me.

Frame pointers enabled by default in Ubuntu 24.04 LTS

In collaboration with Polar Signals we have committed that beginning with Ubuntu 24.04 LTS, our GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) package will enable frame pointers by default for 64-bit platforms. All packages in Ubuntu, with very few exceptions, will be rebuilt with frame pointers enabled, making them easier to profile and subsequently optimise. “I’ve enabled frame pointers at huge scale for Java and glibc and studied the CPU overhead for this change, which is typically less than 1% and usually so close to zero that it is hard to measure. Frame pointers allow more complete CPU profiling and off-CPU profiling. The performance wins that these can provide far outweigh the comparatively tiny loss in performance. Ubuntu enabling frame pointers by default will be a huge win for performance engineering and the default developer experience”. said Brendan Gregg, computer performance expert and Intel Fellow. ↫ Oliver Smith on the official Ubuntu blog So I guess the very minor performance regression is supposed to be compensated for by optimisations in individual packages that frame pointers will help realise.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-3 Focal released

A new update for Ubuntu Touch is here – adding Ubuntu 20.04 LTS support for new devices (the PinePhone, PinePhone Pro, PineTab and PineTab 2), and containing a whole slew of bug fixes and new features. It’s awesome to see the UBPorts team delivering a steady stream of updates, keeping the Ubuntu Touch platform alive and kicking.

Ubuntu Desktop 23.10 release image taken down due to “malicious translation incident”

In case you’re wondering why you can’t download the latest Ubuntu desktop version that was released earlier this week – it seems to have a bit of a rogue translation issue. A community contributor submitted offensive Ukrainian translations to a public, third party online service that we use to provide language support for the Ubuntu Desktop installer. Around three hours after the release of Ubuntu 23.10 this fact was brought to our attention and we immediately removed the affected images. After completing initial triage, we believe that the incident only impacts translations presented to a user during installation through the Live CD environment (not an upgrade). During installation the translations are resident in memory only and are not propagated to the disk. If you have upgraded to Ubuntu Desktop 23.10 from a previous release, then you are not affected by this issue. That’s the difference between volunteer translations nobody checks, and proper translations that go through an extensive review process. As a translator – pay for your translations, and shit like this does not happen. Period.

Ubuntu 23.10 released

Summarising Ubuntu 23.10 in just one word is tricky, but ‘refinement’ feels an apt choice. GNOME 45 brings a bevvy of buffs to the core desktop experience; improved window tiling; a sharper-looking web-browser; a pair of brand-new Flutter-based apps; and a colossal change to the amount of software preinstalled in new Ubuntu installations. Foundationally, Ubuntu 23.04 runs on Linux kernel 6.5, ships Mesa 23.2 graphics drivers (with in-distro access to proprietary NVIDIA drivers for those who need them), and updates the tooling, toolchains, and programming packages devs need. The distribution you won’t be using directly.

TPM-backed full disk encryption is coming to Ubuntu

Based on Ubuntu Core’s FDE design, we have been working on bringing TPM-backed full disk encryption to classic Ubuntu Desktop systems as well, starting with Ubuntu 23.10 (Mantic Minotaur) – where it will be available as an experimental feature. This means that passphrases will no longer be needed on supported platforms, and that the secret used to decrypt the encrypted data will be protected by a TPM and recovered automatically only by early boot software that is authorised to access the data. Besides its usability improvements, TPM-backed FDE also protects its users from “evil maid” attacks that can take advantage of the lack of a way to authenticate the boot software, namely initrd, to end users. I’m not well-versed enough on this topic to make any meaningful comments, other than as long as it’s a choice presented to users, it seems like a good thing.

I think Ubuntu 23.10 is making a mistake

The next version of the world’s most popular desktop Linux operating system (that’s Ubuntu, for those playing dumb) comes with fewer apps available out-of-the-box. Daily builds of Ubuntu 23.10 now ship with just a super-slim set of default software. These are designed to cover basic computing needs only. For anything else, the idea is that we, the user, fire up the Software Store (though the new one isn’t included in daily builds yet) and install what we want for ourselves. As an idea, it’s not without merit. But in practice, I think it’s a potential misstep. Basically, Ubuntu will no longer ship with LibreOffice, an email client, Shotwell, or a host of other applications and tools. While there’s certainly a market for slim distributions that install a lean and mean base installation for the user to expand into exactly the installation they desire, I doubt users opting for such an approach are interested in using Ubuntu, of all distributions (use Void. It’s the only Linux distribution with the official OSNews Seal of Approval™). In other words, this seems like an odd choice for a distribution aimed at relative newcomers to the Linux world. But then again, Fedora is a better choice for those people anyway.

Ubuntu 23.04 broke 32-bit app support (and no-one noticed)

Turns out that installing the Steam client from the Ubuntu repos on a new Ubuntu 23.04 install doesn’t work – and barely anyone noticed. Which is kind of surprising given the popularity of Steam, but also kind of not — and I’ll get to why in a second. So what’s the rub? This whole saga seems to illustrate that most Steam users on Linux install Steam from Valve itself, instead of using the packaged version. Interesting.

Ubuntu Desktop: charting a course for the future

It has been a little while since we shared our vision for Ubuntu Desktop, and explained how our current roadmap fits into our long term strategic thinking. Recently, we embarked on an internal exercise to consolidate and bring structure to our values and goals for how we plan to evolve the desktop experience over the next few years. This post is designed to share the output of those discussions and give insight into the direction we’re going. These values form the framework by which we determine our priorities and measure our progress, and hopefully inspire those that want to contribute to this experience to focus their energies in ways that are aligned with our longer term ambitions. I was hoping for more concrete ideas, plans, and ambitions from Canonical here, but this one is a bit of a nothingburger. There’s a lot happening in the desktop Linux world, especially around immutability, and I see nothing here about such long-term plans, or even relatively short-term meaningful desktop improvements.

Ubuntu Touch OTA-2 Focal Release released

UBPorts has released the second update for the Ubuntu Touch version based on Focal Fossa. In this new version, the System Settings application has been improved in various places, the physical camera button now works (on devices that have one, I presume), and a whole load of bugs have been fixed. Device support has also improved, with the F(x)tec Pro1 X, Fairphone 3, and Vollaphone X23 now being supported by the Focal releases.

Ubuntu 23.10’s new software app will demote DEBs

Ubuntu is a Debian-based Linux distribution but it’s increasingly positioning snaps as the preferred way to ‘get’ software. The aim is, eventually, to default to a full-snap experience on the desktop. With that plan in mind you won’t be mighty surprised (and if you are, welcome back to planet earth) to hear that showcasing DEB software will not be the primary aim of this new Ubuntu Software replacement. Ubuntu’s Director of Engineering says the new hub will be a “snap-first app store” designed around snap metadata. If the same piece of software exists in the Ubuntu repository and the snap store the new store will only make it possible to install the snap version. This is not a surprising move, but one that is sure to alienate at least some – including me. Not that I’d use Ubuntu any time soon anyway, but forcing Snaps down my throat certainly isn’t going to draw me back in.

All-Snap Ubuntu Desktop coming next year

According to Canonical’s Oliver Grawert, the next long-term support release of Ubuntu will be available to download in 2 versions: a classic, deb-based version (default) and, for the first time, an immutable, snap-based build. This makes sense, and was inevitable. I wonder how long they’re going to keep the .deb-based version around; I doubt they’d pull it any time soon. Still, competition is good, and it’s been clear for a while now that immutability is the next big thing in the desktop Linux world.

Ubuntu 23.04, Fedora 38 released

Two major Linux distributions released major new versions this week. First, Ubuntu: There’s a big user experience uplift courtesy of GNOME 44 and enhancements, and a brand new Ubuntu installer helps improves the onboarding experience. Foundationally, Ubuntu 23.04 runs on the latest Linux kernel 6.2 release, ships Mesa 23.0 graphics drivers (with in-distro access to proprietary NVIDIA drivers for those who need them), plus updates all of the requisite tooling, toolchains, and programming packages developers need. I’m curious to try the new installer if someone else adopts it (I have no need for Ubuntu), but other than that, this is a fairly small release that won’t rock the boat too much. Second we have Fedora: Fedora Workstation focuses on the desktop experience. As usual, Fedora Workstation features the latest GNOME release. GNOME 44 includes a lot of great improvements, including a new lock screen, a “background apps” section on the quick menu, and improvements to accessibility settings. In addition, enabling third-party repositories now enables an unfiltered view of applications on Flathub.  With this release, we’ve shortened the default timeout when services shut down. This helps your system power off faster — important when you need to grab your laptop and go. Fedora is, in my view, the best desktop Linux distribution, and I use it myself on two of my three main PCs. So far, Fedora 38 doesn’t feel like a major new release either, but just more of what you already know.

Cubic lets you easily create customised Ubuntu and Debian ISOs

Cubic (Custom Ubuntu ISO Creator) is a GUI wizard to create a customized Live ISO image for Ubuntu and Debian-based distributions. Cubic permits effortless navigation through the ISO customization steps and features an integrated virtual command line environment to customize the Linux file system. You can create new customization projects or modify existing projects. Important parameters are dynamically populated with intelligent defaults to simplify the customization process. This is an incredibly neat tool, and it’s given me the urge to see if I can create my own custom ISO with my personal defaults all set out of the box.

Ubuntu and its flavours to remove FlatPak support

As part of our combined efforts, the Ubuntu flavors have made a joint decision to adjust some of the default packages on Ubuntu: Going forward, the Flatpak package as well as the packages to integrate Flatpak into the respective software center will no longer be installed by default in the next release due in April 2023, Lunar Lobster. Users who have used Flatpak will not be affected on upgrade, as flavors are including a special migration that takes this into account. Those who haven’t interacted with Flatpak will be presented with software from the Ubuntu repositories and the Snap Store. We think this will improve the out-of-the-box Ubuntu experience for new users while respecting how existing users personalize their own experiences. However, we don’t want this to come as a surprise. If you have comments specific to this change you are welcome to respond here on discourse. Canonical’s got Snap to peddle, so FlatPak is a competitor. That’s all there’s to it. I maintain they’re all bad and unnecessary – a .deb, an .rpm, and your source code is all you need to cover 99.9% of Linux users in a standard, easy-to-use, uncompromising way.

The future of ZFS on Ubuntu desktop is not looking good

Last year, Ubuntu developers pushed to remove Zsys from Ubuntu’s Ubiquity installer. This is an integral tool Ubuntu created to make it easier to manage and maintain ZFS-based installations. In a bug report they bluntly noted that ‘priority changes’ in the desktop team meant Zsys was no longer something they want to “advertise using”. As of writing, Zsys remains available in the Ubuntu archives but development of it isn’t looking healthy. Canonical’s contributions effectively fall off a cliff circa April 2021 based on GitHub commits, with only a trivial tweak made in April of last year. Daily builds for the upcoming Ubuntu 23.04 release come with a brand-new installer that has been built using Flutter to Canonical’s exact needs. But guess what this new Ubuntu installer does not include? An option to install Ubuntu on the ZFS file system. I thought the Linux world had settled on Btrfs as the “ZFS-like” file system for the platform, and had no idea Canonical had even been working on giving users the option to install to ZFS. With Btrfs already being the default on e.g. Fedora for a while now, it seems that is a better route to go for Ubuntu and other distributions than trying to make ZFS work.

Snap updates happen without user consent

Traditionally, updates on Linux systems are controlled by the user. You get an icon in the system tray that looks important; you click on it; it asks you if you want to install updates; you say “yes” or “no”; updates are applied, or not; when you next restart any applications that you have running that were updated, the new version is picked up. Data isn’t lost, because updates don’t restart the application. You can (and do) update the Linux kernel in this way, and your computer just stays up (usually running on the old version of the kernel until you next restart.) Mechanisms have been added over time to allow auto updates to take place for critical security patches (“unattended upgrades”) but these have typically to be opt in. And again, they don’t restart running applications. Snap breaks this contract. The update channel for Snap is independent from the KDE updater (on Kubuntu), and seemingly the Gnome updater (on Ubuntu). If you consent to applying updates from the general system tray “updates needed” notification, Snap updates are not included; they’re not even listed in the pending notifications from the system tray. Snap updates only happen when the Snap updater is running, either if the application is not running or after the period of time required to force updates has expired. Snap updates happen without consent. I would really, really suggest moving away from Ubuntu, and opting for the countless better alternatives instead, like Fedora (the best desktop, in my view), Linux Mint (a great desktop, but a bit more conservative than Fedora), any of the Arch derivatives (for bleeding edge and tons of fooling around with AUR), or Void (for those of us with taste). Or any, any of the others. Ubuntu just does not seem to have its users’ best interests at heart, and Snap is the best example of that.