The Ubuntu Linux distribution has a long history of colorful names, but that doesn’t deter at all from the serious enterprise capabilities the operating system provides.
The new Ubuntu 22.10 Kinetic Kudu release became generally available today, marking the second major release for Ubuntu in 2022. The new release provides users with an incremental update that provides features designed to help embedded and internet of things (IoT) use cases. The Kinetic Kudu also provides a new desktop user environment that will help to improve enterprise productivity.
“We’re fully in with Gtk 4.0 theming and it’s much more slick than prior releases,” Oliver Smith, product manager for Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu WSL at Canonical, told VentureBeat.
The Linux desktop matters for Ubuntu users
The desktop edition of Ubuntu 22.10 is the one where users will visually notice the biggest differences from prior releases.
Unlike Microsoft Windows or Apple’s MacOS, Linux distributions can choose from any number of different desktop environments that provide the core set of functionality for file management, tools and menus for desktop operations. The default for many enterprise-focused versions of Linux, including Ubuntu, has long been Gnome.
In Ubuntu 22.10, the Gnome 43 release is integrated, providing users with an improved management capability to view different windows and files together more easily. The integration of an updated Quick Settings dialog in the new desktop is intended to help users access the most commonly used settings, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and power.
Overall the intent is to make it easier and more visually appealing for users to work on the desktop, including with often-overlooked-but-essential tools like the file manager.
“The file manager is not usually the most exciting app, but it’s got some very nice dynamic scaling,” Smith said.
Applications get more snappy
As is the case with desktop environments, Linux users can also choose from multiple different approaches for application package management.
Ubuntu users largely default to the snap package format, which it created back in 2014 and has been iterating on ever since. Smith said that snap performance on the desktop is improved in the 22.10 update with an enhanced compression algorithm.
“We’ve actually enabled multithreaded SquashFS decompression, which wasn’t available in our prior release 22.04,” Smith said. “That means we should also see a performance improvement on some multicore machines.”
With snap, it is also possible for an application developer to include code dependencies for versions of software libraries that might not be part of the Ubuntu system by default.
For example, Smith said that there are situations where an application might need the bleeding-edge latest version of a software library. That bleeding-edge version might not be included in the main Ubuntu release as it isn’t considered stable enough to run. So snap enables the specific application to use one version of a library, while the rest of the operating system can continue to use a different, perhaps more stable, version to maintain system uptime.
More Raspberry Pi please!
Ubuntu is also commonly deployed into embedded technologies including the small form factor RaspberryPi.
Smith noted that over the course of the last year, there have been hardware shortages for the full-sized Raspberry Pi, though there still are the smaller Raspberry Pi Pico boards that are generally available. The difference with the Pico is that it’s not a full system but rather what is known as a microcontroller board that can be embedded into an environment.
“We’ve invested a fair amount of work in supporting Raspberry Pi Pico,” Smith said. “So we’re starting to give developers the tools to develop on microcontrollers.”
Among the tools in Ubuntu 22.10 is the micro Python development stack that enables developers to write code that runs on microcontrollers, including the Raspberry Pi Pico.
More enterprise connectivity with Azure AD is coming
Not all features that were initially in development for Ubuntu 22.10 made it into the final release.
One such feature is support for Azure AD (Active Directory), which is Microsoft’s cloud service for directory and user authentication. Smith explained that Ubuntu has been supporting Active Directory integration for multiple years, but only for the on-premises versions.
“Now we’re seeing customers wanting to move to the cloud-based Active Directory and that’s a very different architecture,” Smith said. “I think that’s going to be quite a big deal for a lot of customers, because support on Linux is one of the sort of friction points for them moving fully to a cloud-based identity management service.”
While Azure AD support isn’t in Ubuntu 22.10, Canonical is now planning on integrating it in the next incremental release with 23.04, which is out in April 2023.
A colorful history
Ubuntu is an open-source effort led by Canonical, which provides commercial support and tools. Ubuntu runs on all types of devices, ranging from embedded devices, with a purpose-built distribution called Ubuntu Core, to desktops and reaching out into the cloud as well.
Since its first release in 2004, which was known as the “Warty Warthog,” Ubuntu has used a naming convention where there is an African animal name, preceded by an adjective. A Kudu, in case you were wondering, is a type of African antelope.