TechnicalOverview

Revision 65 as of 2009-09-08 22:45:24

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Introduction

The Ubuntu developers are moving quickly to bring you the absolute latest and greatest software the Open Source Community has to offer. The Karmic Koala Alpha 5 is the fifth alpha release of Ubuntu 9.10, bringing with it the earliest new features for the next version of Ubuntu.

This is an alpha release. Do not install it on production machines. The final stable version will be released on October 29th, 2009.

Upgrading from Ubuntu 9.04

To upgrade from Ubuntu 9.04 on a desktop system, press Alt+F2 and type in "update-manager -d" (without the quotes) into the command box. Update Manager should open up and tell you: New distribution release '9.10' is available. Click Upgrade and follow the on-screen instructions.

To upgrade from Ubuntu 9.04 on a server system: install the update-manager-core package if it is not already installed; edit /etc/update-manager/release-upgrades and set Prompt=normal; launch the upgrade tool with the command sudo do-release-upgrade; and follow the on-screen instructions.

New features in Karmic

Feature development for Karmic is happening with full speed. Please see the Karmic blueprint list for details.

Please test and report any bugs you find:

Updated Packages

As with every new release, packages--applications and software of all kinds--are being updated at a rapid pace. Many of these packages come from an automatic sync from Debian's Unstable branch. For a list of all packages being accepted for 9.10 Karmic Koala, please subscribe to karmic-changes:

GNOME

Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 5 includes the latest GNOME 2.27.91 development release.

Empathy has replaced Pidgin as the default instant messaging client, introducing the Telepathy framework.

The gdm 2.27.91 login manager is a complete rewrite compared to the version in earlier Ubuntu releases.

Kubuntu

Kubuntu includes its first Netbook release, Social from the Start and the latest KDE packages. See the Kubuntu technical overview

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud Images

Alpha 5 includes alpha images which are common to Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) and Amazon's EC2. You can try out the latest Karmic server alpha instantly on EC2 using a preconfigured AMI, or download an image and put it into your own Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud. For information on using UEC images on Amazon EC2, see the EC2 Starter's Guide.

Ubuntu One file sharing

Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 5 ships the Ubuntu One file sharing service by default, providing tightly integrated file synchronization of your computer with other computers and the Ubuntu One network storage service.

Linux kernel 2.6.31

Alpha 5 includes the 2.6.31-9.29 kernel based on 2.6.31-rc8. The kernel ships with Kernel Mode Setting enabled for Intel graphics (see below). linux-restricted-modules is deprecated in favour of DKMS packages.

hal deprecation

Karmic Alpha 5's underlying technology for power management, laptop hotkeys, and handling of storage devices and cameras maps has moved from "hal" (which is in the process of being deprecated) to "DeviceKit-power", "DeviceKit-disks" and "udev". When testing Alpha 5, please pay particular attention to regressions in those areas and report bugs.

New Intel video driver architecture available for testing

The Intel video driver has switched from the "EXA" acceleration method to the new "UXA". This solves major performance problems of Ubuntu 9.04, but could use further testing to flag any regressions it may bring.

Feedback about the new "kernel mode setting" feature is also heavily appreciated. This will reduce video mode switching flicker at booting, and dramatically speed up suspend/resume. Please see the instructions and feedback page for details.

New default compiler

Karmic uses GCC-4.4 as the default compiler, which in some parts is more strict than GCC-4.3, see list of changes. Please make sure to test packages on karmic or in a karmic chroot before upload.

ext4 by default

The new "ext4" filesystem is used by default for new installations of Karmic; of course, other filesystems are still available via the manual partitioner. Existing filesystems will not be upgraded.

If you have full backups and are confident, you can upgrade an existing ext3 filesystem to ext4 by following directions in the Ext4 Howto (note that the comments on that page at the time of writing about Ubuntu's use of vol_id vs. blkid are out of date and are not applicable to Karmic). Maximum performance will typically only be achieved on new filesystems, not on filesystems that have been upgraded from ext3.

GRUB 2 by default

GRUB 2 is the default boot loader for new installations of Karmic, replacing the previous GRUB "Legacy" boot loader. Existing systems will not be upgraded to GRUB 2 at this time, as automatically reinstalling the boot loader is an inherently risky operation.

If you wish to upgrade your system to GRUB 2, then see the GRUB 2 testing page for instructions. See also the upstream draft manual.

Some features are still missing relative to GRUB Legacy. Notable among these are lock/password support, an equivalent of grub-reboot, and Xen handling.

iSCSI installation

The iSCSI installation process has been improved, and no longer requires iscsi=true as a boot parameter; the installer will offer you the option of logging into iSCSI targets if there are no local disks, or you can select "Configure iSCSI" in the manual partitioner.

Putting the root filesystem on iSCSI is now supported.

AppArmor

A lot of work went into AppArmor for Karmic. The parser has been improved to use cache files, greatly speeding up AppArmor initialisation on boot. AppArmor also now supports 'pux', which when specified means a process can transition to an existing profile if one exists or simply run unconfined if one does not. Improved support for globbing has also been added, most notaby when using wildcard matching for the binary of a profile. Significantly, the AppArmor patch for Ubuntu has been heavily reworked and now uses the upstream LSM hooks. This makes AppArmor in Ubuntu very self-contained and a good candidate for future inclusion in the upstream kernel.

Libvirt

Libvirt now contains AppArmor integration when using KVM or QEMU. Libvirtd is configured to launch virtual machines that are confined by uniquely restrictive AppArmor profiles. This feature significantly improves virtualisation in Ubuntu by providing user-space host protection as well as guest isolation.

New profiles

In addition to the above changes to AppArmor itself, several profiles were added. Enforcing profiles for ntpd, the GNOME document viewer (evince), and libvirt are enabled by default. Complain mode profiles for Dovecot are now available in the apparmor-profiles package. A new profile is provided for Firefox as well, though it is disabled by default. Users can enable this by using:

$ sudo aa-enforce /etc/apparmor.d/usr.bin.firefox-3.5

Please see the SecurityTeam/KnowledgeBase for a full listing of readily available profiles in Ubuntu.

Uncomplicated Firewall

The Uncomplicated Firewall now has support for filtering by interface and egress filtering when using the ufw command. Documentation for ufw is improved to help users better utilise the ufw framework and take full advantage of Linux netfilter's power and flexibility. See UbuntuFirewall#Features for a full list of features.

Download Alpha 5

Get it while it's hot. ISOs and torrents are available at:

Known issues

As is to be expected at this stage of the release process, there are several known bugs that users are likely to run into with Karmic Alpha 5. We have documented them here for your convenience along with any known workarounds, so that you don't need to spend time reporting these bugs again:

  • Users in some timezones will find that their filesystems must be checked (fsck) immediately after install due to a bug in the installer's clock handling. Investigation of this issue is ongoing, and we expect it will be resolved in Alpha 6. (423247)

  • When using the OEM installation option, the desktop fails to come up after reboot for some users. Investigation of this issue is ongoing. (403021)

  • The OEM installer is reported to not correctly set up the end user account in Alpha 5. Investigation of this issue is ongoing. (423042)

  • Due to a bug in the python-boto package, when running ec2-run-instances to launch an EC2 instance you must pass an additional --user-data x option to the command. This bug will be fixed for Alpha 6. (419306)

  • The virtual kernel image has been built without virtio drivers, so installing using the "minimal virtual" option from the Ubuntu Server Alpha 5 will result in an unusable system after reboot. This problem also affects users of the linux-image-virtual kernel package who have installed from earlier alphas. Users are advised to wait until Alpha 6 before installing or upgrading. (423426)

  • Installation of an LTSP server using the alternate CD in Alpha 5 will be incomplete because some recommended packages are not installed. This bug will be resolved for Alpha 6. As a workaround, users can install the pulseaudio-esound-compat and dhcp3-server packages after installation. (423615)

Reporting bugs

It should come as no surprise that this alpha release of Karmic Koala contains other bugs. Your comments, bug reports, patches and suggestions will help fix bugs and improve future releases. Please report bugs using the tools provided.

If you want to help out with bugs, the Bug Squad is always looking for help.

Participate in Ubuntu

If you would like to help shape Ubuntu, take a look at the list of ways you can participate at

More information

You can find out more about Ubuntu on the Ubuntu website and Ubuntu wiki.

To sign up for future Ubuntu development announcements, please subscribe to Ubuntu's development announcement list at: