Trusty Tahr—better known as Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, the latest version of Canonical's open source OS based on Linux—will see its official release in another day. Here's what to expect when it goes live April 17.
Mid-April always brings feelings of ambivalence for me. On the one hand, it means losing a springtime afternoon that I can never get back to preparing my tax return. But my reward, after putting things in order with the federal government and sundry local tax agencies, is that I get to download a new version of Ubuntu. Canonical releases new editions of the OS on the third Thursday of every October and April.
Now that Canonical's chief focus is on "converging" Ubuntu by building a single open source OS that will run equally well on PCs, tablets, phones and even TVs, Ubuntu release dates are not as momentous as they once were. These days, most of the real excitement in the Ubuntu world centers around taking the next step toward actually making Ubuntu run well on a wide range of mobile hardware, rather than pushing out new desktop apps or radically retweaking the Ubuntu interface, as was common in the earlier years of the Ubuntu project.
Still, Ubuntu 14.04—which is a long-term support (LTS) release, meaning Canonical will provide security updates for it five years—will bring some smaller updates that Ubuntu users of all stripes can appreciate. Those include enhancements to AppArmor, software that adds extra security to Ubuntu. And more broadly, the upcoming Ubuntu release sports a newer version of the Linux kernel—3.13.0-19.39, to be exact—which itself introduces a slew of features for mobile and cloud computing, as well as Big Data.
In addition, Ubuntu 14.04 will offer a new backend for web browsers called Oxide. For ordinary Ubuntu users, this change won't mean much, but as Ubuntu developer Chris Coulson has explained, Oxide is an important step in helping Canonical to transform Ubuntu into a more mobile-friendly platform.
Ubuntu 14.04 may not enjoy as many release parties to celebrate its emergence as past versions of the operating did—currently, only 18 events are planned around the world to mark the upcoming release, compared to many dozens for past releases—but the latest version of the OS, which comes nearly a decade after the first version of Ubuntu debuted in October 2004, is still a mark of progress for Canonical as it continues to aspire to reshape the open source ecosystem.