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Canonical presents LTS release of Ubuntu 16.04

June 17, 2016
| Articles, News, VPS Hosting

Canonical has kept its promise and on the 21st of April, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus final version saw the daylight. Meet the latest version of the world’s most popular Linux platform across desktop, IoT and cloud computing, also supported at Host1Plus!

Presenting the new ‘snap’ package feature and LXD pure-container hypervisor, Ubuntu 16.04 is also an LTS release – Long Term Support. It means, that Ubuntu 16.04 will not only set the framework for all subsequent Ubuntu versions for the next two years, it will also be supported for 5 years for Ubuntu Desktop, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu Core, and Ubuntu Kylin. All other flavours will be supported for 3 years. Nowadays, it sounds like one of the most attractive and reliable offers in operating systems you can get. By the way, do not forget that it is free!

Prehistory of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Xenial Xerus release

Named after a type of African ground squirrel, Xenial Xerus, is the 6th LTS release for Ubuntu. It is not hard to count when the first LTS version was released. Keeping in mind that these versions appear every second year, the first LTS from Ubuntu was presented in June 2006.

Before releasing Ubuntu 16.04, Xenial Xerus, it was polished with two alpha, two betas and a release candidate set during the latest quarter. So, by running so many testing versions, Ubuntu 16.04, Xenial Xerus, is the most stable, reliable, secure and cost-effective Linux platform for long-term, large-scale deployments ever developed.

So, what is new in Ubuntu 16.04? This time, you will not get a shock when you open Ubuntu 16.04, as the user interface has not been changed a lot from the last LTS version – Ubuntu 14.04. However, there were some updates, new applications, and upgraded features added. Find out more about them by reading further.

New features on Ubuntu 16.04

Can not wait to hear about new stuff on Ubuntu 16.04? Dustin Kirkland, who manages platform strategy at Canonical, highlighted the main features of the latest Ubuntu version in the following way:

“The addition of ‘snaps’ for faster and simpler updates, and the LXD container hypervisor for ultra-fast and ultra-dense cloud computing demonstrate a commitment to customer needs that sets Ubuntu apart as the platform for innovation and scale.”

Sounds piquant but you want more nuts-and-bolts? Okay, we will not tease you with such abstract descriptions. Let’s dig deeper into the addition of ‘snaps’.

Snap packages

A new application format, the ‘snap’, was added to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS for further convergence across IOT, mobile and desktop. It works alongside traditional deb packages and enable Ubuntu to run its existing processes for development and updates.

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What are the pluses of snappy packages? The snap format was invented for a much easier security and much easier productivity. It offers operational benefits for organisations managing many Ubuntu devices, which will bring more advanced updates and more secure applications across all form factors from phone to cloud.

With the help of a new tool called “snapcraft”, the developers can easily build and package applications from source and existing deb packages. Much newer versions of apps can be delivered to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS over the life of the platform, this way solving a long-standing challenge with free platforms and allowing users to stay on a stable base for longer while enjoying newer applications.

Good news for those, who worries about their system security. Snap applications are isolated from the rest of the system, so it will not have an impact on your other apps or system. In this case, the security mechanisms in snap packages determine much faster iteration across all versions of Ubuntu and Ubuntu derivatives. Also, snap application allows developers to handle the update cycle much better as they can decide to bundle specific versions of a library with their app. Operationally, transactional updates make deployments of snap packages more robust and reliable.

LXD pure-container hypervisor with OpenStack Mitaka

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Another key feature in this release is LXD, the pure-container hypervisor. It delivers 14x the density and substantially greater speed for Linux users in comparison to established traditional virtualization. LXD is a part of LXC 2.0, the latest release of the Linux Containers project and almost all PAAS infrastructures are based on it. Canonical has thoroughly developed LXC for several years, with contributions to LXC 2.0 coming from more than 80 companies.

“The combination of OpenStack and LXD creates unbeatable performance and economics for private cloud deployments” declared Mark Baker, the OpenStack product manager at Canonical.

So, if you use LXD as a hypervisor for OpenStack, you will get a greater density of workloads and lower latency than any other cloud infrastructure has in the market today. It is relevant to companies doing time-sensitive work on cloud infrastructures, such as telco network function virtualization, real-time analytics of financial transactions, or media transcoding and streaming.

Python 3 instead of Python 2

You will not find Python 2 installed anymore by default on the server, cloud and the touch images. With the great applauses meet Python 3! Python 3 itself has been upgraded to the 3.5 series. This update will not impact your own programs, which run with Python 2 in the nearest future. However, for the sake of the best support future versions of Ubuntu you should consider porting your code to Python 3.

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Please, note that the default VIM package has been built against Python 3 instead of Python 2. So, the plugins that require a Python 2 interpreter support from VIM will not work anymore. But do not panic in advance – for this case alternative VIM packages, that still use Python 2, are available (for example vim-gnome-py2).

They can be made the default via the alternatives mechanism:

sudo update-alternatives –set vim /usr/bin/vim.gnome-py2

GNOME Software

ubuntu-content-image-four Hold on to your hats, as we are about to announce one more major change in Ubuntu 16.04. There is no Ubuntu Software Center left. Instead, you will get a lightly themed version of the default GNOME Software app. It will not be so painful to your eyes, as the user interface of GNOME Software is simpler, cleaner and most importantly more reliable. By the way, now it is called “Ubuntu Software”.

ZFS support

As Xenial Xerus will be based on the Linux kernel 4.4 LTS, you will get one more goodie – Ubuntu’s ZFS support. What is so special about it? Well, ZFS is a combination of a volume manager (like LVM) and a filesystem (like ext4, xfs, or btrfs). It has awesome features like:

  • Snapshots
  • Copy-on-write cloning
  • Continuous integrity checking against data corruption
  • Automatic repair
  • Efficient data compression

From now on, OpenZFS is available on every Ubuntu system and therefore, ZFS support is baked directly into Ubuntu and officially supported by Canonical. How cool is that?

What is missing on Ubuntu 16.04?

Along with updates and upgrades, some applications were taken out and you will not find them on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS anymore. We are talking about the disc-burning utility Brasero and the instant-messaging software Empathy. They were eliminated from the ISO file, but if you still want to have them, go to the software repositories.

One more important notice! There is no more AMD Catalyst graphics for AMD GPUs, often called simply the fglrx driver, on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Instead, Canonical offers the open source AMDGU or Radeon alternatives. However, their performance is not as good as the fglrx driver. So, if you use a device with AMD Radeon graphics hardware, do some testing with the live CD before the upgrade.

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