Ubuntu developers on Thursday surmounted a last-minute bug-fixing crisis to release Ubuntu Linux 10.04, codenamed Lucid Lynx, the operating system's first Long-Term Support version since April 2008.
The LTS versions are supported for three years and are positioned as the major releases. The last non-LTS release was Ubuntu 9.10, from October of last year.
The bug, which affected Ubuntu's ability to dual-boot alongside another operating system, was discovered just as the finished 10.04 installation disk images were about to be pushed out.
The problem affected the bootloader and made it impossible for a dual-boot user to switch back to Windows once Ubuntu was installed. The OS developers considered preparing a last-minute Ubuntu system update and asking users to install that to fix the problem.
However, the developers realised that the dual-boot bug was likely to have a serious impact on first-time consumer users — the very users being targeted with Lucid Lynx. Newcomers would be likely to want to dual-boot and might struggle with the task of installing updates.
"Installing the available updates and rebooting will fix this issue," developers said on the Ubuntu wiki. "However, it was determined [on] the day of the release that this is not an optimal solution for new users or those not connected to the internet. We did not sufficiently consider how this bug would affect those trying Ubuntu and dual-boot for the first time, and/or installing without a network connection."
The answer was to 'respin' the installation images, beginning with the 32-bit and 64-bit desktop images and the Netbook Edition. The Ubuntu project managed to begin releasing those images late on Thursday, European time, as originally planned. Both the desktop and server images are now available from the project's website.
Lucid Lynx updates Ubuntu with features such as integrated social networking, better integration with cloud infrastructure such as Amazon's EC2, and a new look. Canonical chief executive Jane Silber said the company, which backs Ubuntu, is aiming to broaden its consumer user-base with these features.
"These are the bridging elements to the mainstream market that our community, our partners and our users really want," Silber said in a statement. "Long-term support makes Ubuntu 10.04 LTS very attractive to corporate IT as well."
Among the most noticeable new features is a complete redesign of the desktop's appearance, based on the theme of 'light'. Another new feature is the MeMenu that, using the open-source microblogging client Gwibber, allows users to manage their instant messaging and to post short messages to a range of networks.
The desktop OS is the first to integrate the upcoming music store, Ubuntu One (U1). This lets people buy music directly through the default music player, Rhythmbox. U1 is currently going through a limited beta test.
Aside from the standard desktop and server editions, the project released server versions tailored for Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) and Amazon's EC2 cloud-computing service, as well as a version aimed at netbooks.
The new release includes changes to the UEC installer, so that UEC components are now automatically discovered and registered, even if the different components are on different servers. Canonical has released official server images for deploying Ubuntu directly onto UEC or EC2.
Security improvements include tweaks to the firewall and in kernel hardening.
The operating system is based on the 126.96.36.199 Linux kernel and includes the latest Gnome desktop, X.org 7.5, OpenOffice 3.2 and Firefox 3.6.
The removal of the HAL package allows Ubuntu to boot and resume from suspend faster, according to the Ubuntu release notes, while the addition of the likewise-open package adds Active Directory authentication support.
The new OS uses the open-source Nouveau video driver by default for Nvidia graphics hardware to improve resolution detection. It also includes three proprietary Nvidia drivers.