April 19, 2006

Ubuntu starts planning for Edgy Eft

Author: Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier

Dapper Drake won't debut until June, but the Ubuntu folks are already planning for the next release, dubbed Edgy Eft.

Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu Linux distro, sent out an email today with the new codename and philosophy for this release:

Edgy is all about cutting edge, perhaps bleeding edge, brand new code and infrastructure. It will be the right time to bring in some seriously interesting but definitely edgy new technologies which lay the groundwork for the next wave of Ubuntu development.

An Eft is a youthful newt, going through its first exploration of the rocky territory just outside the stream. And that's exactly what we hope the development team will do with Ubuntu during the Edgy cycle - explore slightly unfamiliar and uncharted territory that is perhaps a little out of the mainstream.

Shuttleworth says that he plans to impose few, if any, requirements on the Edgy release -- instead, this release will be "entirely up the to development team to envision and implement."

However, the Edgy release may not be quite as stable or polished as the Dapper release, which was originally scheduled for April, but pushed back to June to ensure that the release was suitable for a longer lifecycle. Most Ubuntu releases are supported for 18 months, but the Dapper release will be supported with security updates and bugfixes for three years for the desktop release, and five years for the server release.

According to Shuttleworth, this is the time to shake things up and go for cutting-edge features, rather than stability.

So there may be shakiness, or outright bumpiness, in Edgy. We will for the first time possibly have to say to new users "Edgy gets security updates etc for 18 months but seriously consider Dapper if you need the most polished platform". I think that's a worthwhile tradeoff, because I think a clean-the-pipes type release like Edgy is a good way for us to re-energise the team and the distro. Risk is good, when you give it a place and a time. And Dapper+1 is the right time for us to take a few risks.

For those who started with the first Ubuntu release, this cycle might look a bit familiar. The first release, Warty Warthog, was a solid and interesting release -- but lacked the polish of later Ubuntu releases. Shuttleworth says that Edgy will probably start laying the foundation of the next "enterprise" release of Ubuntu.

We didn't plan it this way, but I suspect the next two to three years will look similar - we'll start of with a release that has a lot of edge and new tech (remember Warty?) and polish that up till we see the timing is right for a really polished enterprise "long term support" release, like Dapper. We've no concrete plans for the next Dapper, only that we'll know a release or two in advance when the time is right.

New features for Edgy will be tracked on the Ubuntu Launchpad tracker, called Blueprint, and through the Ubuntu wiki. Specs for Edgy will be reviewed at the Ubuntu Developer Summit two weeks after the release of Dapper on June 1.

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