Ubuntu 8.04 LTS: Stable desktop and Java developers best friend.

“All operating systems include stuff you’ll never use. For example, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS includes an easy uninstall feature.
We know – completely redundant. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS for desktops – you’ll never go back.”

8.04 “Hardy Heron”, the latest version of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, has been released this week, in short sequence as a server version (supported to 2013) and a desktop distribution (supported to 2011), being the Long Term Support version to follow 6.06 “Dapper Drake” which (at least in our professional infrastructure) has proven to be an incredibly stable and maintaineable platform suiting all our needs. And, looking at it closely, it is obvious that 8.04 has seen an amazing load of work compared to its predecessors, seen both in overall stability, performance as well as in “small” details like the customized Firefox starting page or, as quoted above, a pretty cool marketing / product launch campaign which feels in a refreshing way ironic compared to what other companies tend to do getting their new releases out. Along with Ubuntu itself, there also are new releases of Kubuntu (offered as a “stable” version that comes with KDE 3.5 as well as a “bleeding-edge” version including the infamous new KDE 4), the education / classroom distribution Edubuntu and, of course, my personal favorite Xubuntu, including the lightweight XFCE desktop environment, and being great despite the fact that the default backgrounds in GDM and on the desktop itself just painfully suck. 😉 Overally, I have been with Xubuntu 8.04 already for quite a few months, and the last few weeks it has turned out to be a stable and pretty usable machine ready for everyday use, addressing a few issues I had to manually deal with in earlier versions (like using the dual-screen setup on my notebook).

Asides this, however, I am whole-heartedly amazed to see Ubuntu turning into something I haven’t seen that often in GNU/Linux community the last twelve years: It seems to be a distribution which gets more and more approved by both community and companies / commercial providers. Maybe the “open” nature of Ubuntu and the fact that there are predictable, long-term supported releases is something that pays off in the end to help this distribution gaining acceptance all around, becoming a “real” all-purpose (including desktop usage) distribution without throwing away most if not all of the GNU ideas.

And, another thing notable to me, being a Java developer: Ubuntu 8.04 seems the first GNU/Linux distribution so far that includes a fully-fledged set of tools in its package repository:


[kr@n428 9:13:11] ~> apt-cache policy openjdk-6-jdk sun-java6-jdk glassfishv2 netbeans
openjdk-6-jdk:
Installiert:(keine)
Mögliche Pakete:6b09-0ubuntu2
Versions-Tabelle:
6b09-0ubuntu2 0
500 http://archive.ubuntu.com hardy/universe Packages
sun-java6-jdk:
Installiert:(keine)
Mögliche Pakete:6-06-0ubuntu1
Versions-Tabelle:
6-06-0ubuntu1 0
500 http://archive.ubuntu.com hardy/multiverse Packages
glassfishv2:
Installiert:(keine)
Mögliche Pakete:2.0.1-0ubuntu5
Versions-Tabelle:
2.0.1-0ubuntu5 0
500 http://archive.ubuntu.com hardy/multiverse Packages
netbeans:
Installiert:(keine)
Mögliche Pakete:6.0.1-0ubuntu2
Versions-Tabelle:
6.0.1-0ubuntu2 0
500 http://archive.ubuntu.com hardy/universe Packages

So, we do have both OpenJDK and Sun’s “regular” Java SDK in its recent versions, along with the current version of the open-source Glassfish application server (V2u1, at least until Monday, April 28, it seems…), and the recent stable version of the NetBeans IDE, so far my favorite Java/all-purpose development environment. Honestly, installing any of these applications using the “vanilla” installer without relying upon apt and the package repository ain’t that much more difficult, but at least this way getting started doing serious work in Ubuntu 8.04 is easier than ever before, and, considering the idea that Glassfish on Ubuntu 8.04 even might become a configuration officially supportable by Sun, this also might grow the acceptance of Hardy Heron as a server distribution compared to, say, RedHat or SuSE Enterprise Linux. Now I (a) wonder whether the packaging folks will be up to keep packages current when, in example, NetBeans 6.1 is about to be released soon, and (b) whether, talking especially about the Java and integration thing, Sun and the OpenSolaris folks are likely to get (Open)Solaris distributions on par with Ubuntu also in terms of desktop usage and package installation / update procedure, or whether Solaris is rather left for the server usage while Sun folks do focus on supporting Ubuntu as main desktop system environment. Let’s see what will happen…