back to article Go nuts, brother: Ubuntu 16.04 beta – no more auto data-spaffing

Ubuntu 16.04, named after a type of African ground squirrel, Xenial Xerus, is here – in beta. And with it come welcome upgrades, quite a few new applications and upgraded features to Ubuntu. Some other, noteworthy aspects, meanwhile, have gone missing. Xenial Xerus is the first significant update to the Ubuntu desktop in two …

  1. Diodelogic

    'No more "spyware" turned on out of the box'

    Wait, what?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'No more "spyware" turned on out of the box'

      The system search thing would search online as well as offline, so if you searched for "butt plugs", not only would it find your local collection of butt-plug pornography, but it would also find used butt-plugs on Ebay.

      ( For example ).

    2. Preston Munchensonton

      Re: 'No more "spyware" turned on out of the box'

      Entire history of Ubuntu Spyware

    3. thames

      Re: 'No more "spyware" turned on out of the box'

      Ubuntu == Copy Mac OS/X ideas as close as we can without getting sued. Ubuntu "spyware" is their take on Mac Spotlight. However, when Ubuntu does it, people shriek and moan about how they've lost the plot, and say they're going to buy a Mac, where doing more or less the same thing is apparently OK because, well just because it's OK.

      Ubuntu is dropping the whole idea because apparently the idea was not all that useful to begin with. Ubuntu provided some developer samples of "scopes" or "lenses" (I can't remember what they're called, and I use Ubuntu every day) which did things like search Amazon. The concept was that third parties would write "apps" that would let users search whatever they chose to install (e.g. Github). There was a distinct lack of interest, as apparently people tend to think in distinct categories at specific times, and didn't want suggestions from Github when they were searching for porn, or visa-versa. It's easier to just fire up the web browser and use Google.

      Canonical ran the searches from the lens/scope samples they provided through their servers in order to anonymise the data before sending the search off to the final destination (e.g. Amazon). They're shutting down that server infrastructure and pulling the plug on the whole idea. They did the same already on some of their other cloud services (third parties such as Dropbox support Linux, so there's no need for Canonical to run their own to keep their desktop viable, which is why they did it in the first place).

      Apple of course simply ships your search queries off to Microsoft Bing.

      If you use Ubuntu, you will lock your most commonly used icons into the launcher bar where you can get at them quickly. For other items, the recently used and commonly used stuff comes up automatically when you click on the "Ubuntu button" menu, and you can pick it from there. That works so well that I can probably count on the fingers of one hand for the number of times I've used the search function to find an application or file in the past year. Even then, I probably don't have to type in more than two or three letters to narrow it down to what I want. The chances of anyone figuring out anything useful from that sort of "information leak" is pretty slim.

      In other words, the whole thing is yet another panic dreamed up by people who know very little about Ubuntu, because they never actually use it on a regular basis, but rather dream up problems by looking at screen shots.

  2. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    Too little, too late in this house...

    My other half hath glimpsed the promised land of Fedora, and pronounced it good...

    Seriously though, the bodgy updates of the last version meant we couldn't recommend it to family members, especially those who always press the "install each and every update, I care not what they do or why, for I enjoy living on the edge!"

    So I guess reinstalling her laptop as Fedora 23 is on the cards for the next few days...

    1. Dwarf

      Re: Too little, too late in this house...

      I've done the Fedora side of things.

      Yes, it works well, but I got fed up having to do all the upgrades every 6 months when a new one pops out of the sausage machine.

      Fedora Upgrade (fedup) is a good tool and indicative of what I felt having to do the updates.

      Suggest looking at a longer term distro - something from the Debian tree is my current choice.

      1. andy 28

        Re: Too little, too late in this house...

        I run Fedora at home and upgrade about every 2 years.

        6 months between releases and support for another year after that makes minimum 18 months. Add some slip between releases and some laziness from me and 2 years and a few versions go by.

      2. FrankAlphaXII

        Re: Too little, too late in this house...

        >>Yes, it works well, but I got fed up

        I see what you did there, even though I think that they call it something different now with DNF.

        And didn't we all? I'll never forget fighting with fedup to get F21 to install and then fighting with yum to sort out a bunch of broken bullshit. Then when F22 or 23 came out and the maintainer of the kmod for the AMD proprietary driver threw a fit and no one picked it up, which is the same sort of situation that AMD users on Ubuntu are facing now apparently.

        I have no idea if anyone ever did eventually pick it up because I gave up trying to play games or do anything else graphically intense on Linux and use Windows for that, and for my servers I switched to using FreeBSD, it may not be flashy but it works.

      3. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Too little, too late in this house...

        "Suggest looking at a longer term distro - something from the Debian tree is my current choice."

        If you like the Fedora way of doing stuff, why not CentOS? A good 5 years of support with updated applications. Familiar admin (dnf won't arrive until RHEL8).

  3. Andy Non Silver badge

    I'll wait for Mint

    Presumably there will be a new LTS version of Mint based on this sooner or later.

    1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

      Re: I'll wait for Mint

      That was my first thought too and according to the font of all mankind's knowledge there will be one based on U16.04 in May or June.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll wait for Mint

      That, and/or the UbuntuMate version or even Lubuntu . Anything to get away from the crappy Unity desktop. I like a simple clean classic desktop and luckily the open source nature of Linux lets me have it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'll wait for Mint

        Me too, but I do like the way Unity puts the menus in the window title (having them always at the top, Mac style, is annoying). It's the other non-configurable stuff that makes Unity annoying. All a bit too MS.

  4. Greg J Preece

    AMD Drivers

    Well, hang on a minute, isn't the fglrx driver dropped in favour of an entirely new driver stack? Where's that? I've been hearing bits and pieces that the new AMD drivers are light years better/faster than the old ones, and when Polaris drops later this year I'm hoping to finally start gaming on Linux as a primary platform.

    1. ShaolinTurbo

      Re: AMD Drivers

      Yep you are right, last thing I read they are behind on the all new AMD driver so it will come a few months later after 16.04 release.

      I guess 16.10 will be the one!

    2. Mr Flibble

      Re: AMD Drivers

      At the moment, you'll need to use the open-source drivers.

      My understanding is that AMD's new closed-source driver (which is userland-only and relies on the open-source amdgpu kernel module, same as Mesa's amdgpu driver does) definitely won't be supporting pre-GCN hardware and may also not support Southern Islands hardware. I think that the intention is to open-source much of it.

      I'm using an older card which doesn't support 64-bit floats. Mesa (as of 11.2) has no emulation of them, so it says OpenGL 3.3. I override that to get games which require OpenGL 4.0 or 4.1 to work. That mostly works fine; there's been one obvious rendering bug (which is fixed now).

    3. Zakhar

      Re: AMD Drivers

      AMD has never be brilliant on Linux. We all know the facts!

      -1) you don't need the power of a big GPU: go Intel, it is probably already inside your processor, and much enough.

      -2) you need a nice GPU (games and the like), go nVidia

      AMD was never a wise choice for Linux users, and apparently it's not going to change any time soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: AMD Drivers

        AMD has never been brilliant. We all know the facts!

        AMD was never a wise choice and apparently it's not going to change any time soon.

        T, FTFY

        Catalyst™ has been a crime against humanity (ON *ALL* "SUPPORTED" PLATFORMS) since long before AMD bought ATI and AMD never did anything to change that. Now they're dumping it.

        Good riddance to toxic effluent.

        Pity they're taking their software replacement as an opportunity to fuck-over all their established victims one last time. Really wouldn't expect any different 'though.

        Still, being FORCED to upgrade to nVidia is going to do wonders for the leccy bill. :D

    4. thames

      Re: AMD Drivers

      I use the open source drivers with an AMD APU, and they work just fine. AMD's open source drivers always seemed to be more stable than the proprietary ones anyway.

      OpenGL is apparently being superseded by Vulkan, which is based on AMD's Mantle. It looks like AMD isn't interested in supporting their older proprietary drivers when it's not the direction they're going in.

      I don't play games, so perhaps that influences my outlook. For normal desktop stuff, full screen video, and stuff like that, the open source drivers are what I would recommend.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Omg they killed gedit

    You bastards!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Omg they killed gedit

      Relax, vi is there.

    2. Zakhar

      Re: Omg they killed gedit

      Did they? (Sorry, I don't have time to test betas anymore!)

      Isn't it just a matter of typing: sudo apt-get install gedit

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Omg they killed gedit

        It's installed by default.

        What I mean is the Gnome devs have gnomified it. All the functions are crammed onto one gear menu, and the tabs have been changed in a 'style over function' way.

  6. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Long term support

    > it’ll also enjoy full support and updates until 2021

    Just so long as you don't need / want /accidentally add a package that doesn't form part of the LTS suite - which requires a later version of a library that is lagging in the LTS stakes. Then you're (back) on your own again.

    Given the amount of stuff - not just the pretty dam' popular packages that the article mentions - that don't form part of the LTS, that would be a large proportion of the user base.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Long term support

      I find the selection is pretty good, plus much of the time, it is feasible to either port things yourself or get someone (for gratis or otherwise) to do it for you, provided source is available.

  7. To Mars in Man Bras!

    Out to Launch

    >If you've always wanted to move the launcher to the bottom of the screen, your day has arrived.

    Sigh! –I want to move it to the right of the screen. Looks like I'll have to wait for 17.04.

    Won't somebody think of the left-handers!

    PS: what's the significance of the fact Ubuntu rleases always go point-04 then point-10?

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Out to Launch

      .04 is the April release; .10 is the October.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Out to Launch

      That's version 04.17 for Americans

    3. Teiwaz

      Re: Out to Launch

      "Sigh! –I want to move it to the right of the screen. Looks like I'll have to wait for 17.04.

      Won't somebody think of the left-handers!"

      - What, really? (I'm left-handed). I guess it's all the years of having to use desktop systems where they've thoughtlessly made sure the mouse can't be moved from the right by fixing the cable to the desk on the right that I now use my right for the mouse (and probably why I've fallen for tilers and applications like conkeror, zathura etc where the mouse is not used as much.

      Still, when I do use Unity, it actually has quite good keyboard control compared some other Desktops.

      1. Pookietoo

        Re: the mouse can't be moved ... fixing the cable to the desk

        You don't carry a mouse with you? If I'm going to be using someone else's machine I put a trackball in my bag.

      2. Gordon JC Pearce

        Re: Out to Launch

        I'm lefthanded too, and use the mouse with my left hand with the left and right buttons the normal way round. Why does the side the launcher bar is on make a difference?

        FWIW I play the guitar and cello strung the normal way round too. I must admit a left-handed piano would be hilarious and easy to do in software these days.

    4. Turnipking007

      Re: Out to Launch

      04 april

      10 october


    5. thames

      Re: Out to Launch

      "Sigh! –I want to move it to the right of the screen. Looks like I'll have to wait for 17.04. Won't somebody think of the left-handers!"

      I occasionally switch use of the mouse between hands to avoid RSI, so I use it with the left or the right hand. I find having the bar on the left works very well with either hand. It's not like you're actually reaching up to the screen, after all.

      I use a test editor a lot, and text (in most places) is left justified, so having the bar on the left means that less mouse movement is required to get to it, which means less wear and tear on my hands and arms.

      I think that having the bar on the bottom is one of those ideas that works less well in practice than it does in theory. Unity doesn't show minimised window icons the same way that MS Windows does, so there's no practical reasons for having the bar on the bottom other than "Windows does it that way".

    6. MrWibble

      Re: Lefties

      I'm not sure how your handedness works/doesn't work with Unity's left panel (I'm a lefty, and never cared / thought about it!)

  8. fnj

    It's the server version that got my attention

    I jumped on the beta to try out the server version on a headless system. There are two HUGE wins. The article barely touches on one of them, and doesn't even mention the other.

    1. ZFS fully baked in means no more DKMS nightmare with the expletive-deleted "weak modules" generated on upgrades, which screw up the system.

    2. LXD is an earth-shaking development. This is the first availability in pretty-fully-ready-for-prime-time form. It makes LXC containers a pleasure to use. I see this tech overshadowing full virtual machine tech such as KVM, and far preferable to Docker. In no time at all I brought up 6 containers with the 2 latest versions of CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu, all running together with virtually no load on the host system, everything under-committed. It only uses as much RAM, disk space, and CPU as needed for the load you put on the containers.

    ZFS and LXD work synergistically together. My test system is an 8-10 year old junk box low-end system with only 2 cores, no hyperthreads, and only 8 GB RAM, and it is happy as a clam and super responsive.

    If you clone one container n times (cloning and starting is an incredibly quick operation), they all share almost all the same store on the hard drive initially. Through the magic of ZFS COW, as soon as you make changes between them it transparently generates the most efficient branching of the storage.

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: It's the server version that got my attention

      > "My test system [...] with [...] only 8 GB RAM."

      Just a mere 8 GB, eh? And there was me thinking that Ubuntu (desktop, admittedly) would run in half a Gig of RAM...

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: It's the server version that got my attention

        "Just a mere 8 GB, eh? And there was me thinking that Ubuntu (desktop, admittedly) would run in half a Gig of RAM..."

        That's the minimum. I found (on an old atom single core netbook) even with 1Gig, the dash was painfully slow as were some other elements. Once I'd upped it to 2Gig, it's nippy (dash still takes 5 or 6 seconds plus to 'find' and application or file though).

        You could run it on the minimum, but I wouldn't recommend it if you value your sanity. You'd certainly want to never use the dash and have no extra workspaces.

      2. fnj

        Re: It's the server version that got my attention

        <blockquote>Just a mere 8 GB, eh? And there was me thinking that Ubuntu (desktop, admittedly) would run in half a Gig of RAM...</blockquote>

        Did you completely overlook the fact that I was running seven operating systems at the same time, plus ZFS, which has the reputation of being a memory hog, in 8 GB?

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: It's the server version that got my attention

      LXC is the bees knees - we switched from KVM a while back, they're noticably lighter on the server. Can't speak for LXD, I gather it's largely polish for LXC but the underlying tech is great. As is ZFS, of course. Couldn't give a rats about the desktop and I agree it's a shame the server-side aspects where dismissed with a handwave in this article.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: It's the server version that got my attention

      Not used Ubuntu on the desktop for a while (that's what Mint is for), but we use Ubuntu Server a lot at work, so an el Reg article on changes between 14.04 and 16.04 server would be good.

    4. Chronic The Weedhog

      Re: It's the server version that got my attention

      Thanks for bringing up the server release. I tend to start with that release even for my desktop builds because I prefer to roll my own desktop environment from Ubuntu Server + Mate Desktop, similar to Ubuntu Mate but leaner.

      I like that build because I believe it's more solid than the desktop release. I could be wrong, but it seems like the developers would consider the security of the server platform to be of utmost importance because of the likelihood of that build ending up in a mission-critical role.

      Lately, I've been doing a similar build from Raspbian-Lite + Mate, which has replaced all of my x86 based Linux endpoints, as well as 1 server (which is headless, with no local desktop installed; just webmin for remote admin beyond using SSH for most things). The last build I did --turned out really well, so I imaged it... and killed the source-copy SD-card in the process... luckily it was only an 8GB disc and not worth a lot so I was able to replace it easily. Anyway, the image I made worked perfectly for making quickly spun out duplicate loadouts that I only have to change the hostname on, and I modded the workstation image before making the backup to include x11vnc configured to relay the live desktop session, Network Manager to control eth0 & WLAN0 (where appropriate & detected), as well as a complete install of Mate-1.8 that I've heavily tweaked to my network environment. This means now that I can loadout a fresh RPi3 with the image in under 5 minutes and have the system ready for use within 10mins of starting on it.

      I'd really like to see Ubuntu 16.04 get a solid armhf port that works identically to the x86 build, along with ports of *all* of the x86 packages that can reasonably run on armhf-type processors. WINE may be one of the few that will be difficult at best, and likely impossible to do properly.

      Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for an armhf release of Ubuntu 16.04 server, and will likely order a board specifically for accommodating it. Once I've had some time to work with it, I'll likely come back here and drop a review of what I find. From past experience, I hold pretty high hopes for it because Linux on armhf is very fast overall. The last server I built using RPi2 + Raspbian-Lite was able to run a full LAMP stack, Mumble-Server, UnrealIRCD + ircservices-for-UNIX-v5.x, webmin, and a motionEye server daemon with a single local cam relaying video from my server rack to my security console all on a single board, with a runtime average of under 0.50. Normally, I'd panic if I saw a production x86 based server running that taxed, but the RPi2 running in that configuration did really well with zero stability issues.

  9. Palpy

    Was looking do a clean install of 16.04 --

    -- on my desktop machine once Canonical emits the final release. The desktop machine has been Ubuntu since 12.04. But I put Qubes on my travel laptop, and now I'm thinking that will be the main ride on the grandpa-box too. I've been pleased with Fedora 23 in a VM, though I'll have to put Ubuntu or something on as a dual-boot to access digital camera and sound recorder, etc. (Being security-oriented, Qubes does not usually mount non-block USB devices, no matter what you run in the VM.)

    And I write all that in order to out myself as a hypocrite: No more do I deign to eff around with Windows privacy, and antivirus/malware, and auto-update settings. Quelle horreur! "Worst thing evar", I cry. But I'll probably spend hours and hours mucking about with Linux and Qubes and Ubuntu.

    Sometimes I tell myself it's all about the soundness of the barrel I put my apples in. But really, it can be more about the perception of choice than about the barrel.

  10. James 51

    And here I was hoping to upgrade to the new AMD APUs or CPU/GPU combo at the end if the year. Will have to do a bit more digging into the driver issue.

  11. Sureo

    Xenial Xerus

    A bunch of red squirrels chewed their way into my shed one winter and basically trashed the place. I hope there isn't a lesson there....

  12. John Phamlore

    Big warning 14.04LTS to 16.04LTS upgrade

    Big warning that everyone should be trumpeting from the rooftops:

    "There is a known issue which prevents the upgrade of 14.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS. Please see this bug for more information.

    At this time you should not attempt to upgrade a production desktop from 14.04 LTS to 16.04 LTS."

    1. Tommy Pock

      Re: Big warning 14.04LTS to 16.04LTS upgrade

      I will, eventually. My laptop* started out on 8.04 Hardy Heron and it's been upgraded to every LTS since.

      Nothing serious has broken yet. It's interesting to see how many upgrade cycles the OS can go through without any catastrophic occurrences.

      I do stay away from interim releases and betas though.

      (*I moved the HD to a new laptop during 14.04, try that with Windows)

    2. Chronic The Weedhog

      Re: Big warning 14.04LTS to 16.04LTS upgrade

      From reading over the links you provided, it looks like the biggest issue has to do with pre-existing swap partitions, that any existing swap will need to be removed and re-created... at least that's the case with server upgrades.

      That concerned me when I read it because I have several Ubuntu servers that I'd like to upgrade within a month or so of the new release. One of my older servers has been upgraded already from 10.04 to 12.04 to 14.04, and it looks like it *might* work out to upgrade it directly again... but in light of these warnings, I'll most certainly ensure that I have a solid backup of at least the contents that I want to restore later so that if the upgrade goes sideways, I can get my services back up that I depend on.

      Thanks for the info! :)

  13. thames

    Just Tried It Out

    I've just finished trying out the desktop version in Virtual Box (I've been testing the server for a bit now). Not a lot that is visible has changed from 14.04. Mostly it's just updates in applications. I don't mind that at all, as I'm pretty happy with 14.04. I'll definitely be upgrading.

    One minor change that I did see is that the logout, restart, etc. GUI programs show up in the list of installed software instead of being hidden. You can apparently (although I didn't try it) uninstall them. You can locate and run them from the "Ubuntu button" menu.

    I tried out Gnome Software, and my opinion is that it's a bit shit. It's like a limited functionality version of Ubuntu Software Centre. However, you can only install and uninstall a subset of the packages with it. You still have to install either Ubuntu Software Centre or Synaptic anyway unless you want to Google package names and apt-get stuff from the command line. Gnome Software does not seem to be ready for prime time yet so far as the average user is concerned.

    Other than that, Geany (programming editor/IDE) still looks the same, with a new version. The same with Claws Mail. Python is 3.5 (14.04 uses 3.4, as does 15.10).

    Over all, it looks like a good upgrade, with the exception of Gnome Software.

    1. Chronic The Weedhog

      Re: Just Tried It Out

      Thanks for the head's up about Gnome Software.

      I didn't care much for USC and always installed Synaptic on every system I used with a desktop-env, likely for the same reason as you: complete control over the package install process. So long as Synaptic never goes away, we're golden! ;)

  14. Len Goddard

    close window button

    So I can put the launcher on the bottom. Big deal. With a wide angle monitor I have more horizontal space to waste so it can stay where it is.

    But I still can't put the close window button back on the right of the frame where years of use lead me to go for it automatically.

    And I would still prefer a menu bar on the app window instead of menus munged in with the title.

    Staying on mint xfce.

    1. Tommy Pock

      Re: close window button

      You can put the window control buttons wherever you like, in any order you like

    2. Tommy Pock

      Re: close window button

      Oh, and you can move the menus to individual frames instead of the menu bar as well.

    3. Chronic The Weedhog

      Re: close window button

      Ubuntu-Tweak will let you do that, all day, and also works on just about every derivative based on Ubuntu as well for tweaking other elements of the OS aside from the desktop environment.


  15. MrWibble

    "The Software Center was once a best-of-breed app..."

    And yet it still sucked donkey balls - slow, prone to crashing, lack of information about exactly what was being installed (dependencies), etc.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: And yet it still sucked

      I used it a couple of times, then installed Synaptic. Apparently that's still available in 16.04, so no problem.

  16. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Zippy Zebra

    We're fast approaching the end of the alphabet. What happens next?

    1. Chronic The Weedhog

      Re: Zippy Zebra

      That's a very good question! :)

      I've been wondering that as well.

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: What happens next?

      Architectural features, starting with Aspirational Architrave.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like