Canonical reveals more details about Ubuntu Core Desktop

Next April, a new LTS Ubuntu release will arrive, and alongside it will be a brand new immutable desktop release. At this year’s Ubuntu conference in Riga, Latvia, Canonical revealed more details about its upcoming immutable desktop distro. From a report: Core Desktop is not the next version of Ubuntu itself. The regular desktop and server Ubuntu isn’t going anywhere, and the next release, 24.04 codenamed Noble Numbat as we mentioned last month, will be the default and comes with all the usual versions and flavors. Nor is this an entirely new product: it’s a desktop graphical version of the existing Ubuntu Core distribution, as we checked when it was released in June last year, two months after 22.04. Ubuntu Core is Canonical’s Internet of Things (IoT) distribution, intended to be included in high-end devices, such as digital signage and smart displays. It is an immutable distribution, meaning the root file system is read-only and there is no traditional package manager.

Instead of being the basis for customization, like traditional Linux, the idea is to roll out immutable distributions and update them more like a phone or tablet operating system: there is one stable, heavily tested image of the operating system, and it is deployed to devices in the field without tweaking updates Monolithic: A completely new image is pushed, and all components of the operating system are upgraded in a single process to the same group. This is not unique. Most major Linux vendors have immutable offerings, and The Reg has looked at several over the years, including MicroOS, the foundation of the next-generation SUSE ALP enterprise operating system. In addition to the popular ChromeOS, another immutable desktop is the educational distro Endless OS.

(…) Canonical thinks it has some unique new angles. Core Desktop was built as additional layers on top of the existing Ubuntu Core distribution, and like Core, was built entirely using a single packaging system: Ubuntu’s Snap. Although Snap remains controversial, it has some compelling advantages over SUSE and Red Hat tools. SUSE’s Transactional_update tool, although simpler to implement than its competitors, requires a snapshot-capable file system, which means that its immutable distributions must use Btrfs. Although it has many admirers, the number and contents of the orange and red cells in the feature tables here in its own documentation reflect the FOSS’s serious reservations about Btrfs.

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