Kevin Gunn of Canonical laid out some of Canonical's plans for Unity 8 and Mir for the Ubuntu 15.04 development cycle.
In a 25 minute presentation today during the virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit, Gunn covered the Unity 8 / Mir accomplishments of the Ubuntu 14.10 cycle and then focused on work they plan to do over the next six months for Ubuntu 15.04.
Among the upcoming focus for Mir in Ubuntu 15.04 is GTK+3 support for Mir and they also plan to support libinput! The libinput library has been used by Wayland clients up to now for unified input handling and there's optional support for an X.Org input driver for using libinput there too. Canonical now seems interested in using libinput too, which will be supported alongside Android's input stack.
Canonical isn't yet prepared to drop 32-bit Ubuntu ISOs outright, but over time -- and particularly at or just after Ubuntu 16.04 -- they will work to demphasize the existence of the 32-bit releases and work to push more users to 64-bit Ubuntu as a main focus.
Discussed today during the second day of the online Ubuntu Summit was about when the 32-bit images should stop being made... to which there isn't yet a firm agreement. The 32-bit Ubuntu packages will likely be maintained past whenever the 32-bit images stop being spun, but this probably won't happen until after Ubuntu 16.04 -- the next Long Term Support release in 2016. This session today was a follow-on to the recent discussion about Ubuntu 16.04 potentially being the last 32-bit release.
Besides figuring out what to do about 32-bit Ubuntu, another session of interest today during the online/virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit was trying to decide what to do about Adobe Flash support on the Ubuntu desktop. There's three years before Adobe plans to end-of-life their support of Flash on Linux.
Ubuntu developers are figuring what to do about Adobe Flash support in general and specifically for Flash on Firefox. While Google has taken over Linux Flash support within their PPAPI plug-in for Google Chrome, Firefox users are still dependent on Adobe's NPAPI plug-in. It's for the Adobe.com plug-in that Adobe will no longer be providing updates -- including for security related matters -- after 2017. Those using Google Chrome shouldn't run into problems nor Chromium users if copying over the PPAPI Flash plug-in, etc.
Discussed today during the first day of the Ubuntu 15.04 Online Developers' Summit was about finally migrating over to BlueZ 5 for its Bluetooth stack. BlueZ 5 was originally released at the end of 2012 but still hasn't shipped by default in Ubuntu Linux.
BlueZ features support for new protocols, API improvements, new Bluetooth Low-Energy profiles, D-Bus interaction improvements, a new btmon Bluetooth monitoring tool, a bluetoothctl command line tool for interacting with BlueZ, and tons of other changes. BlueZ 5 was a huge release and it's still been improved since with support for new profiles, Android improvements, and much more.
Because this is a UEFI Firmware system, the first step is to wrestle with with BIOS and UEFI configuration. Every OEM is different in this area, and sometimes even different models from the same OEM are different. The critical questions are:
How to UEFI boot from a USB stick
How to (optionally) disable UEFI Secure Boot
How to (optionally) enable Legacy Boot (MBR)
Will changes to the UEFI boot configuration be retained
I know from experience with previous Acer systems that there are two things you have to do in the BIOS to prepare for Linux installation. FIrst, you have to change the "F12 Boot Menu" option to 'Enable', so that that you can press F12 during startup and get to the Boot Select menu.
Second, if you want/need to change the UEFI boot settings, you will first have to set a "Supervisor Password" in the BIOS configuration. Once the password is set, you can disable Secure Boot and/or enable Legacy Boot as necessary.
After the installation process completed, and before I rebooted, I checked the UEFI boot configuration (efibootmgr -v). It was correct, with "opensuse-secureboot" defined and first in the boot sequence list. But then I rebooted and... it booted Windows. ARRRRGGGHHHH! NO! Acer doesn't do this kind of garbage, HP/Compaq does! I have two or three other Acer laptops around here, and the boot configuration is perfectly stable on them!
I rebooted and used F12 to get Boot Select, then selected openSuSE from there, and it came up ok. Then I checked the boot configuration again. Sure enough, the boot order had been changed back to have Windows Boot Manager first. Swine...
I rebooted again, and this time went into BIOS setup (F2). On the 'Boot' page, there is a 'Boot priority order' list, and "Windows Boot Manager" was right at the top of that list. There was nothing about "openSuSE" in the list, but there was a strange new entry for "HDD: WDE WD5000LPVX-22VOTTO", which is absolutely as clear as mud... I didn't recall seeing that entry when I was in the Boot menu the first time. I moved that item to the top of the priority list, crossed my fingers and rebooted.
Kubuntu has one definite advantage. It's predictable. Predictable in the sense that it will never give you a fully satisfying experience out of the box, and it will do its best to be controversial, bi-polar and restrained by default. You get a very good and modern system, but then it's almost purposefully crippled by boredom, a conservative choice of programs and missing functionality. Why, oh why. It could be such a shiny star.
Utopic Unicorn is a pretty solid release, but it does suffer from some alarming issues. The graphics stack, first and foremost. Desktop effects are also missing, and Samba printing is simply disappointing. The rest worked fine, the system was robust, there's good evidence of polish and improvements, but then it lacks pride and color. I would say 8/10, but that's not enough to win people's hearts. We've all been there, every six months, so something new is needed. Maybe Plasma 5? Aha! Stay tuned.
While other platforms like Windows or iOS are still working towards their convergence goal, Canonical is already there and the developers now have applications that work both on the mobile and on the desktop platform without any major modifications. One such example is the Ubuntu Touch Music App, which looks and feels native on both operating systems.