T – 242d!

It’s only 242 days until April 1st, 2016, the month where another great Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release will be born. Ubuntu 16.04 will be the most sophisticated release of Ubuntu so far.

In my old/new role as Canonical’s Shepherd for all things related to Ubuntu Client (meaning Ubuntu, Phones, Tablets and everything related), I wanted to take a few moments and share our current plans for the remaining time until Ubuntu 16.04.

The Ubuntu Community team has invited me to a Q&A session for Tuesday, August 4th, 15:00 UTC. Feel free to get in touch with questions right there.

Snappy, Personal, Desktop Next, Ubuntu Touch, Phones, Convergence?

If you’ve followed Ubuntu over the last years and months (e.g. at the last Ubuntu Online Summit in May), you have heard a lot of terminology referring to products, technologies, code bases, previews, releases and vision. Let me try to untangle that a bit 🙂


Tired of app dependencies? Want to decouple your app from the OS layer? – “snappy” Ubuntu is here to help you!

“Snappy” is an adjective describing a collection of technologies that allows for transactional, atomic updates, roll-back and better security guarantees for apps and users. The snappy software you will be using is built from the same source like on Ubuntu, however, the packaging format and the way things are executed has been improved.

“Snappy” Ubuntu Core

Are you building a hardware gadget? We have your OS! And Apps! And Ecosystem!

“Snappy” Ubuntu Core is a rendition of Ubuntu Core, implementing all the snappy features into 1 lean OS image that’s available for all key platforms. The image allows you to build an OS that fits your gadget exactly with the OS, Middleware and App components that you need. No more, no less.

Combine that custom tailored OS with a smart app store and the ecosystem of Ubuntu developers and you are perfectly equipped for the “Internet Thing” revolution.

Ubuntu Personal

1+1=2, Snappy + Ubuntu = “Snappy” Ubuntu Personal

“Snappy” Ubuntu Personal is the logical consequence of all things said so far, except that it has the most beautiful user interface sitting on top of it. However, Ubuntu Personal will be snap based from the start and hence the distinction “snappy” Ubuntu Personal is redundant, we are simply calling it Ubuntu Personal.

Ubuntu Personal will provide all the benefits of snappy apps to users of devices with built-in and attached displays. Considering that snappy systems were born out of our experience with mobile devices, Ubuntu Personal is the next evolution of the phone code base on our path to reach code convergence.

Ubuntu Touch

Heard about the BQ Aquaris E4.5 or E5 HD or the Meizu MX4 Ubuntu Edition? – Say Hi to Ubuntu phone!

Ubuntu Touch is a code base built on top of Ubuntu, that is used on our currently shipping devices, powered by Ubuntu. “Touch” is the project name but it has taken on a life of its own when the project became more successful. The official name is Ubuntu phone.

It has implemented required key features for mobile operating systems such as system image updates, mobile & converged apps and an app store. The Ubuntu phone code base will converge with the Ubuntu Personal code base.

Desktop Next

2014: OMG!!1! Mir, Unity8!? I need to see it, pleeease? – Here is your ISO!

Desktop Next refers to a technology preview image of all the goodness that is happening in the Ubuntu-sphere. Back in 2013, there was a high demand to show what Mir and Unity8 were all about. Initially we delivered that experience via PPAs and other means, but by providing the Desktop Next ISO image we streamlined access to these new technologies. Apart from some middleware enablement, Desktop Next shipped the Ubuntu phone code base.

With the advent of snappy Ubuntu, Desktop Next will be discontinued in favor of previews of Ubuntu Personal, i.e. still incorporating the now well known Mir & Unity8 stack but building on top of the snappy Ubuntu platform technology.


Technologies, products, previews, codebases… they all come and go as part of the evolution of Software. The underlying center of gravity for everything I have described so far however is Ubuntu, which is bigger than any single technology or product or code base.

Ubuntu is the result of a countless number of people working together to build something greater than an individual could accomplish. This is represented via our community of developers, testers, translators, users, advocates, our archives which provide the software, forums, wikis, Q&A sites, LoCos, Councils and Governance Bodies, our flavors, and everyone else not mentioned here.

As such, Ubuntu, the Linux distribution as we all know and love it will continue to be there, on the internet, freely available to anyone and everyone.


Status Quo

We are currently in the middle of the Ubuntu 15.10 cycle. Ubuntu has vibrant ecosystem of 9 (in words: nine!) flavors that are choosing to build their Operating System on top of the Ubuntu platform. Each of them has their own detailed roadmap, which can be found here.

Ubuntu is currently shipping with Unity 7 and X.org as the default desktop, Unity 8 and Mir can be used in an alternative desktop session though. Ubuntu is using a package based installation.

Ubuntu phone is currently shipping into a growing number of markets. This platform is being iterated rapidly to release new features to our customers as soon as they land in Launchpad. Ubuntu phone is using newer technologies such as Unity 8 and the display server Mir as a default, leveraging so called click-packages as an enhanced packaging format and is being deployed as a system image, which can be updated incrementally over the air.

15.10 and 16.04

Disclaimer: the chart only shows base Ubuntu client platforms, but is not indicative of any specific product roadmap or launch

Convergence Roadmap

The chart shows Ubuntu as the center of gravity for everything that revolves around it. We will be seeing a solid 15.10 leading to the Long Term Support release 16.04. I personally expect some improvements around the Dash and general usability improvements for users with high resolution screens in addition to the work that’s done to polish and stabilize Ubuntu to the level a LTS release deserves.

Unity 7 and X.org will continue to be the default Desktop, but we’ll offer Unity 8 in an alternative desktop session. The Unity 8 session will be able to use a lot of the work that is being developed for Ubuntu phone and the first level of convergence is happening right there, in this Unity 8 session.

Developers will find the best set of tools there provided by our Ubuntu Make tool. Independent of whether you are an Android, gadget, game or web developer or whether you are targeting the Ubuntu Ecosystem specifically, you will feel home on Ubuntu 16.04.

Our snappy Ubuntu Personal is currently being born and it’ll be around the 16.04 release before we consider it a 1.0 release that we are happy with. The key objective of Ubuntu Personal is to address end users on mobile and HW converged devices on top of a snappy Ubuntu platform.

Ubuntu Personal will be using Unity 8 and Mir as a default, with support to run any “legacy” X.org based application transparently. All the applications you have fallen in love with on the Ubuntu phone will also be available on Ubuntu Personal.

Ubuntu phone will continue to be the driving force behind our activities in entering more mobile markets. Key feature development will continue to happen here. I am excited to see stronger support for tablets, more hardware convergence features, improvements to our Scopes framework and better integration with social services happening here.