Greetings and goodbyes at the entrance to hell

It has been surprisingly quiet since Alpha 1, but some big changes slipped through nonetheless. Saddle up, it’s wildcat herding time!

Welcome news for fans of half-arsed i686 implementations: The shift from i486 to i686 build instructions in Maverick may not present the nightmare scenario you’ve been told to expect. A binutils bug noticed by Linux kernel developers in 2008 has inspired a fix in Ubuntu’s gcc to stop it from generating problematic instructions. eglibc was rebuilt to reflect the change, but additional work may be required to nail down the fix completely.

Nothing conservative about this Maverick… it’s time to bid farewell to your old pals, aptitude and tasksel! At least in the default desktop install anyway, as the minimal and standard ubuntu-meta packages no longer directly depend on them. That’s a swingeing cut to the install footprint of 13.5MB! Sure, that may not seem like much given the size of modern hard drives, but consider the impact on mobile install profiles (tablets and the like), smaller SSDs and most importantly, the LiveCD.

This change is likely to draw a bit of criticism, but here are some things to keep in mind before you voice your disappointment:

  • These days, apt-get supports dependency-aware removal of unused packages (apt-get autoremove) and installing recommended packages by default (which you can turn off with --no-install-recommends).
  • Desktop users are rightly encouraged to use Update Manager and the Ubuntu Software Centre, which are both vastly more usable than Synaptic or aptitude.
  • You can install and use aptitude if you wish, and there has been no indication that it will be removed from main.
  • Indeed, tasksel will continue to be installed on servers, and it depends on aptitude anyway… so never fear, quasi-GUI server admins! 😉

In the same upload, Colin Watson laid to rest the hppa and lpia architectures once and for all, excising the remaining references to them from the package seeds. Neither were built or supported for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. Awaiting a similar fate, the historically much-loved sparc port, and without a surge in contributors, perhaps even the much-reviled ia64.

If you’re keen to see Don Quixote’s architecture of choice survive, and have a notarised doctor’s certificate confirming that you are not infected with zombie rage virus, there’s a gaping maw at the entrance to hell with your name on it. Perhaps you can inflict pain on research students around the globe by keeping ia64 on life support for another decade!

That’s it for the goodbyes — say hello to linux 2.6.35-rc1! For lots of juicy background on the latest Linux kernel action, you have to read Linux Weekly News (LWN). Better yet, subscribe to support great niche journalism. 🙂 Check out their coverage of 2.6.35: merge window 1, merge window 2 and merge window 3 (still paywalled as we publish).

You stay classy, Maverick Meerkat.

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15 Responses to Greetings and goodbyes at the entrance to hell

  1. Stoffe says:

    How large is the mono footprint, and could we perhaps get rid of that?

  2. Aptitude is still superior to apt-get, even if apt-get autoinstalls recommends and has improved its dependency resolution checks.

    * For one, aptitude has better handling on when installing or removing a package might break a system, and offers numerous solutions to make.
    * Aptitude also has a slick ncurses UI that makes installation/removal of software far less painful than dselect.
    * Aptitude has much improved output when searching for or getting information out of packages.

    …and more. Really though, until Ubiquity turns out to be an actual advanced partition manager, with support for RAID, LVM, FCoE, etc., the “desktop installer” won’t get much use from me.

    But if space is your concern, how about pulling out, and replacing it with Abiword and Gnumeric? That would pull hundreds of megabytes out of the CD, rather than a mere 31. Pulling out half the games wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

    Of course, Ubuntu has always been about appealing to the desktop user, no the system administrator, so Ubuntu isn’t likely going to make a lot of friends in the data center.

    • Jeff Waugh says:

      You’re asking strawman questions here… wouldn’t be replaced with Abiword/Gnumeric because a) they are not even remotely as complete and b) they’re not “best in class”. And yes, the Ubuntu developers did pull out half the games (from the desktop install) for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.

      Removing aptitude and tasksel(-data) is a handy 13.5MB win for the desktop install footprint which is unlikely to have an impact on the “greatest common factor” of users.

      There are plenty of options available for the savvy user: Use the GUI tools, hit the command line with apt-get straight away, or install and use aptitude.

      Please, a little perspective: Why would dumping aptitude from the default desktop install be even remotely a deal breaker for data centre users? Note that they are more than likely using the server profile, which will include aptitude anywa (because it is a dependency of tasksel).

      • is a bloated piece of crap. It’s slow. It’s largely incompatible with most everything other than ODF. It relies on the JVM for some of its pieces. And it has a massive footprint. For a Live CD, people aren’t going to be creating, editing and publishing documents. So, I don’t see why Abiword and Gnumeric can’t fit the bill, if it’s space you’re looking to obtain. Good to hear a lot of the games were pulled, however.

        The perspective is about a lot of decisions Canonical is making with their flagship product. I have no problems with pulling aptitude from the desktop install. You have to admit, it seems a bit odd, however. The Debian manual even recommends using aptitude over apt-get for a number of reasons. Aptitude is just superior in many ways to apt. So, why not pull apt instead?

        But, my reasons for not using the Desktop installer in the data center, is because it addresses the needs of desktop users, not server users. Of course, most admins already know not to use the desktop installer anyway, so the point is moot.

        Just an odd move. Real odd.

        • Jeff Waugh says:

          Again with the strawman… surely it is obvious that “space” is not the singular, exclusive factor in the decision to ship particular software.

          The removal of aptitude from the default desktop install does not seem even remotely strange to me. It’s surplus to requirements, reduces the install footprint by a surprising amount (largely due to tasksel/-data), and has practically no impact on the “greatest common factor” of desktop users.

          Much like the reaction to dropping GIMP from the default desktop install, I think there’s a lot of people making noise here without making a lot of sense.

  3. Really, I’m wondering why we have 3 separate installers. That should probably be the first question raised. Why do we have a server installer, and an alternate installer, and a desktop installer? Why not create one installer, that can handle different situations: run a Live CD to test stuff out, or jump straight into an advanced installer, and get going? This is the massive strength of Anaconda in the Fedora camp. Anyway, I’m going to bed.

    • Jeff Waugh says:

      Download the DVD. Problem solved.

      There are separate installers because they work differently, and for good reason.

      How would you install a server from a desktop LiveCD? It’s an installed image, so your only option would be to copy the whole thing and then uninstall 70% of the packages in the target. That’s pretty stupid.

      How would you upgrade a server from a desktop LiveCD? There are no packages on the LiveCD, so you can’t.

      How do you provide an immediate Ubuntu experience to first time users with an old-style installer (server or alternate)? You can’t, because the CD is full of packages, not a ready-to-run image.

      There are vastly more important problems to tackle than these (if you’d even argue that these are problems — we’re at this point thanks to a lot of thoughtful design and clever technical work).

      • You don’t need the DVD. I can install any of those options painlessly with the Debian installer. Any selection of servers (httpd, mysql, sshd, etc). I can target laptops, with all the latest bluetooth and wifi goodness. I can target generic desktops. Further, I can do this all from a 50 MB ISO, a 180 MB ISO, or the first full CD from the collection. GUI or text-based. Just no Live CD to run a desktop.

        Now, take those ideas, add it to a Live CD, and you have the Fedora/RHEL experience. The Anaconda installer (which is launched from the desktop) can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. The only thing I lose is the flexibility of choosing the appropriate kernel for my system. But, Fedora has settled on PAE kernels for 32-bit installs, or the generic for 64-bit installs, rather than separate -server and -generic kernels for both 32 and 64-bit. Works good enough.

        This isn’t rocket science. It’s already been solved, and it’s working great in other camps. Curious why our camp is so splintered, and why we haven’t picked up these ideas.

        • Jeff Waugh says:

          Perhaps it’s because the server installer provides an excellent experience for server users (small, fast, flexible, scriptable install with a bunch of additional server related packages included on the disc), and the desktop LiveCD installer provides an excellent experience for desktop users (try before you buy, massive functionality for a 700MB disc). Mashing them together would detract from the quality of experience for both use cases.

          This is quite enough. Please find another forum to tilt at windmills.

  4. BigWhale says:

    Removed from CD completely or just from live installation and will still be available for installation later.

    Well in any case, I don’t see why it would be such a big problem. You can always apt-get it. 😉

  5. Andrew Mason says:

    Both of my parents, and my wife are currently happily using Ubuntu. Neither of them would know what Aptitude is.

    If you know what Aptitude is, then you would also know about apt0-get and you can easily install it with apt-get install aptitude.

    Why is this an issue ?

  6. NoOne says:

    Without tasksel what’s the preferred method of installing things such as the LAMP super-metapackage? (and all those other things)

    And yes, I mean on the desktop version.

    • Jeff Waugh says:

      Synaptic allows you to select/install packages by task, and I suspect adding task support to Software Center would be a welcome feature if presented well.

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