back to article Fresh versions of Ubuntu Touch, Mir display server, and Unity arrive

Various parts of Ubuntu's cancelled desktop/fondleslab convergence project are all still ticking away – some officially and some thanks to user communities. UBports is edging closer to moving to a different LTS – except on the PinePhone, which is going its own way. It's nearly six months since Ubuntu Touch OTA-23 appeared, and …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Not coming here

    As far as I'm concerned, since the introduction and forcing of snap, anything connected with ubuntu is "Here Be Dragons" country.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Not coming here

      [Author here]

      I keep hearing this. I have to admit, I honestly Do Not Get It.

      It's just a packaging format. It's less intrusive than systemd, say, and most normal desktop OS users will never see or interact with either of them.

      Snap is more powerful and more capable than Flatpak, both both work. Both make it easy to install (and update) proprietary binary apps. For example, on my own machines, I use Slack, Skype, I'm listening to Philip Glass on Spotify right now, and I have Zoom, Signal, Telegram and so on installed but not open at this second.

      I tried out the techniques I mentioned in my Zinc writeup and I removed Flatpak and Snap and all the apps I'd installed with them. Instead I installed `deb-get` and used it to reinstall all these things that aren't in the Ubuntu repos.

      The end result is exactly the same. Same apps, now native packages not Snaps or Flatpaks.

      They look the same, they work the same. Updating takes about the same time.

      I may have saved a bit of disk space but this laptop has a ½TB SSD and it's not a noticeable saving. I can't say I have noticed any less RAM usage. Most of them are Electron apps and so they're RAM-hogs anyway.

      If you want to rail against an iniquitous trend, complain about Electron! Demand proper native clients that run in a few megs not hundreds of megs of RAM! Demand no blasted Javascript in any native app!

      Snap is harmless by comparison, and easily removed if you have enough of a technical clue as to know what it is and to not want it. It's trivially easy to uninstall all Snaps and then purge snapd. A native Firefox is a few commands away, and deb-get makes those easy.

      This seems to me to be superstitious dread, not an actual valid technological criticism.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: Not coming here

        I'm well aware of the issues with SystemD, which I why I migrated all my machines to devuan.

        I've no particular concerns about snap itself, more the way ubuntu is quietly installing it on otherwise normal upgrades, and transferring things like browsers across to snap packages. The average user would know nothing about this, and have no idea what to do if they were aware of it happening.

        As has been said before this is a security risk. You have no control over exactly what is being installed. You can't inspect it or change the contents.

        Removing snap (if you know how to do it) presents further problems in that ubuntu no longer offers some packages other than as snaps, and the average user is not going to know how to add other repositories (or even that they exist), and certainly would have no hope of compiling stuff. Come to think of it I wouldn't like to try compiling firefox!

      2. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Not coming here

        I expect that you've already read this, but for everyone else:

        It's not the format which is the problem.


        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Not coming here

          [Author here]

          > I expect that you've already read this, but for everyone else:



          I think the article at that link is unfair and inaccurate. As I wrote in the most recent story about Snap, there was a public talk at the Ubuntu Summit by one of the founders of Screenly:

          This was the talk:

          Screenly is using Ubuntu Core in production, and in order to run its digital signs, it is deploying Snap apps from its own private Snap store.

          Go ask them?

          I also wrote about Rudra Saraswat and his proof-of-concept Snap store, called "LOL".

          It *is* possible and according to Viktor Petersson's talk, all the tools to create and run and host a Snap store are included with Ubuntu.

          This "there is only one Snap store and it's closed therefore Snap is proprietary" is pure FUD and nothing else.

          Snap is more flexible than Flatpak, and IMHO a lot of people need to be a *lot* more sceptical and exercise more critical thinking about Flatpak, just as they do around some of the claims about GNOME.

        2. Mike_R

          Re: Not coming here

          To save you looking up the blog:

          You’ve as much empowerment with this as if you were using proprietary software, i.e. none. This is in effect similar to a commercial proprietary solution, but with two major differences: It runs as root, and it installs itself without asking you.

      3. Mike_R

        Re: Not coming here

        > It's less intrusive than systemd,

        So when (if) we remove systemd, as an added benefit we get rid of snap,

        together deleting a maze of inter-dependencies, complications, and mount points.

        Simplify, Simplify.....

        1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Not coming here

          [Author here]

          Well, quite.

          This is also why I wrote about the Zinc remix. I have since applied some of the methods described in that story, and in that remix, to my own machines.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not coming here

        While some folks have tech-based complaints about Snap (and/or FlatPack), I think a (my) bigger concern is the way it gets deployed. And further, how Canonical is driving their rollout.

        It's not as insidious or feature-creep underhanded as systemD, yes; but I think enough of us have scars and bad memories from that ongoing debacle that we're suspicious (fearful) of being jerked around by the vendor. Especially when they're making big changes to something very fundamental to the OS. It feels destabilizing, fair or not.

        Yes, we're not paying for Ubuntu, and we don't sit on Shuttleworth's board, so you get what you get and make the best of it.

        But even with free / opensource softwares, there is the factor of trust in the vendor / distributor. Red Hat arguably did a lot of damage to that trust over the years in some quarters of tech folk, e.g. systemD as well as pulling the rug out on CentOS ne Stream. The big corporate Powers That Be probably don't care much, heck the IBM versions probably don't understand it to begin with. But that doesn't mean it isn't real.

  2. 3arn0wl

    Lomiri all the way

    I remain a huge fan of this FOSS, lightweight, converging OS, with its well thought out UI.

    My hope is that it will become available on RISC-V silicon in the not too distant future.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Lomiri all the way

      [Author here]

      Lomiri isn't an OS, though. It's a desktop, basically.

      Ubuntu Touch is an OS, and I'd love to see it gain some headway against Android and iOS. I'm seriously on the look-out for a cheap used phone I can run it on.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. 3arn0wl

        Re: Lomiri all the way

        Well... According to Raffaele, UT runs perfectly on a Google Pixel 3A :

        They can be picked up secondhand at a reasonable price these days.

        It's the converging UI that really floats my boat.

        - Apparently PostmarketOS are playing with it :

        - And some time ago, someone called Sunweaver was trying to sit it atop Debian.

        But, as far as market share goes, I'd like to see it dent MacOS and Windows every bit as much as Android and iOS! ;)

  3. Ozan

    Is Mir still around? I am suprized.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]


      Mir is alive and well, in active development, and is a significant component of Ubuntu's IoT offerings.

      I don't think that while vanilla Ubuntu remains based around GNOME with some extensions that it's likely that the Ubuntu Desktop edition will switch to Mir, but it's plausible that some kind of Mir-based remix might happen.

      It would be very interesting to see a Lomiri-based desktop distro, for instance.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the many Ubuntu's?

    I haven't been a regular user of Ubuntu for many years -- I think I left off somewhere around 10.x -- but I do still follow along in the news and announcements. Mostly from general interest in all things Linux, but also to see where Canonical are going.

    I've had an impression for a while that Ubuntu is kind of split-brained or multi-faceted or something. I grew up with Red Hat back in 2.x kernel days when "RHEL" didn't exist yet, and there was just the 1 i386 release distribution and that was it. Similar when I got around to CentOS and Debian. Okay, you got a 2nd release when 64-bit came along, but it was still "CentOS". (rip)

    These days with Ubuntu there are other choices -- "spins" or whatever they call them. KUbuntu, XUbuntu, etc. With "desktop" and "live-server" choices for the mothership Ubuntu. I get that there are intended purposes and audiences for all, and choice can be a good thing.

    But sometimes I can't help feeling like it's overkill. E.g. if I wanted to run a different window manager on my Debian daily driver for some reason (long live Xfce! :-) ), I'm pretty sure I would apt install stuff, rather than switching to a different spin or release or whatever the right term is.

    Now granted, I can see the win for someone who just wants to run KDE on Ubuntu installing KUbuntu and getting on with it. Though if they eventually decide to use Xfce instead, would they want to switch to XUbuntu for that? Seems like they'd just install the xfce deb files and carry on, but I don't know what today's Ubuntu users actually do. And is the OS still properly "KUbuntu" at that point? I'm admittedly splitting hairs and nitpicking on that last point, but I'm mildly curious.

    Full marks to Canonical for trying new things and making some effort to give people what they want. I'm probably too much of an old DIY sysadmin for some things these days.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: the many Ubuntu's?

      [Author here]

      I do take your point.

      The thing is that RHL was always a techies' tool. There did used to be remixes of RHL, and that is where Mandrake/Mandriva started, for example. As I have written, it will not die and derivatives are around and thriving.

      Ubuntu was "Linux for human beings". It is specifically aimed at non-techies and people who would not be happy or able to do things like install their own desktop, or remove large chunks of the OS without breaking it.

      That is why the remixes, now called "flavours", exist.

      Also, it's worth nothing that Fedora also has "flavours", indeed, much the same selection... and I think Fedora started the name "flavours" after initially calling them "spins".

      I personally enjoy seeing the versions of Ubuntu that _remove_ stuff. Mint is doing interesting work there, but Zinc perhaps even more so.

      Maybe someone will do a systemd-free Ubuntu. That would be fun to try out!

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