The latest greatest version of Ubuntu is about ready to drop (The predicted date for release is April 23). With this new release there is plenty to get excited about. But with all of these new features will come a good deal of new issues. As most who have followed Ubuntu know, the .04 releases are not nearly as stable as the .10 release. Couple that with the new features and Ubuntu 9.04 might see less production installations than previous releases. But that doesn't mean you should shy away from this release. The list of improvements alone should be enough to get you excited about installing Jaunty Jakalope.
Some of these improvements will be very obvious to the users and some of them will not. In this article I will detail the major changes so you can decide if this update is for you.
This will be the first release to support the extension 4 file system. This support is option (as 9.04 will default to ext3). The biggest advantage to ext4 is the support for larger volumes (up to 1 exabyte) and larger files (16 terabytes). There are other improvements that ext4 regarding allocation. Both pre-allocation and delayed allocation have been added. These improvements deal with how space is allocated for files. The former will boost performance for systems like streaming media and databases. The latter will improve fragmentation.
Depending upon user feedback, ext4 may become the default in 9.10.
With the release of 9.04, cloud computing will become much easier with the help of Eucalyptus. This application will allow you to test and deploy your own clouds matching Amazon EC2 API.
The latest release of GNOME will bring some positive changes to the desktop. The Brasero CD burning utility will bring probably the easiest CD burning ever to the Linux desktop. The latest GNOME will also be able to handle multiple monitors much better thanks to gnome-display-properties.
Probably the one issue that will excite people the most is that a number of card drivers have been transitioned to free. Also many improvements to the ATI drivers as well. One important improvement here is the use of EXA acceleration. One 3D bug that caught me off guard was a mismatch between the kernel and fglrx that rendered 3D non-existent for NVidia drivers...this has been fixed. 3D performance in 9.04 should be greatly improved for all supported video chip sets.
Ubuntu is slowly creeping toward its promise of a 20 second boot time. I have actually seen Ubuntu 9.04 (with a solid state hard drive) boot up in 17.4 seconds. Of course the solid state drive is an unfair advantage over most mortal computers. But 17.4 seconds! Ubuntu is doing something right with their boot process.
A number of kernel bug fixes have been applied. Particular to this release are numerous USB fixes, PCI subsystem fixes, and firewire fixes. These improvements will be a real boost to multimedia usage on Linux.
More architecture support
As of 9.04 ubuntu will now support ARM processors. This will be a large step in further gaining ground in the netbook market. This is also significant with Freescale releasing a sub-$200.00 ARM-based netbook in the near future.
Ubuntu has been called on one major issue: Performance. A drastic decline in performance has been noticed from 7.04 to 8.10. This has been one of the major focal points for the Ubuntu development team. To resolve this issue Ubuntu has focused their efforts on a kernel and process level. Hopefully this will result in serious improvements in performance and reliability.
It is my feeling? that this release will be a typical .04 Ubuntu release with a few areas that will very possibly draw in non-Linux users. In particular the file system size limitations and the boot times will draw a more tech-savvy crowd (especially to the server release) and the drastic 3D improvements will draw more end users in.
The most important choice for a 9.04 installation will be to use ext4 or not. If you are installing on a production machine you should probably avoid this file system. But I wouldn't hestitate to install 9.04 with the ext 4 file system on SOME machine - just to see how much it improves over all performance.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.