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Why Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn's humble changes are the calm before the storm

Chris Hoffman | Oct. 24, 2014
Ubuntu 14.10--or "Utopic Unicorn"--is now out. It's a standard release of Ubuntu, not a long term support release like 14.04 "Trusty Tahir," and at first glance Utopic isn't the most exciting update. It doesn't even have new wallpaper! But peer a little closer and you'll see some huge changes being worked on for Ubuntu. In fact, the alterations are such a massive undertaking that they're not yet stable enough to be part of the main Ubuntu desktop image.

Ubuntu 14.10 — or "Utopic Unicorn" — is now out. It's a standard release of Ubuntu, not a long term support release like 14.04 "Trusty Tahir," and at first glance Utopic isn't the most exciting update. It doesn't even have new wallpaper! But peer a little closer and you'll see some huge changes being worked on for Ubuntu. In fact, the alterations are such a massive undertaking that they're not yet stable enough to be part of the main Ubuntu desktop image.

Massive changes are coming for Ubuntu. Utopic Unicorn is the calm before the storm — and it signifies just how mature the Linux ecosystem has become in recent years.

What's new in Ubuntu 14.10?

As usual, there's a slew of software updates as Ubuntu pulls in the latest software from "upstream" projects. Ubuntu 14.10 uses version 3.16 of the Linux kernel, so that might bring some improved hardware support — if you have hardware problems on Ubuntu 14.04, you may want to try Ubuntu 14.10. There are also new versions of LibreOffice, the GNOME components, and everything else that's been updated in the six months since Ubuntu 14.04 was released.

But there's not a lot that seems new beyond that. The blueprints for Utopic are fairly thin, with much fewer features being worked on now than in the past. Many of the new features are for the server or cloud editions of Ubuntu. For example, there are improvements for LXC (Linux Containers) container-based virtualization and the OpenStack cloud computing platform. Unless you're using Ubuntu as a cloud server, the blueprints won't look very interesting to you.

You probably shouldn't upgrade, and that's awesome

If you've used Linux for a long time, you'll remember a time when every new release felt like a mandatory upgrade. They were always big improvements. Getting new features every six months was fun, sure. But the flip side of the coin was that you wanted to upgrade every six months so your hardware would work a bit better, and that wasn't so fun.

Things are different now. The LTS release of Ubuntu isn't just for businesses — it's for average Ubuntu users. You can jump on an LTS release and use it for three years until the next LTS release, or five years if you just don't feel like upgrading. LTS releases get some updated software and even improved hardware support, so they offer more than just security updates. If you're using Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, there's really no compelling reason to upgrade to 14.10 Utopic Unicorn.

That's a good thing. The Linux desktop is stable and ready to be actually used — not just tinkered with.

 

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