If all goes according to plan, the first alpha release for Ubuntu 9.04 (the Jaunty Jackalope) will be released tomorrow. It's not even been one month since the release of Ubuntu 8.10, but this first alpha release will show early signs of what we can expect to see in this next Canonical-sponsored release -- albeit many of the features are still in planning. In this article we will provide a glimpse at what Ubuntu 9.04 should hold in store to captivate Linux desktop users.
When Mark Shuttleworth had announced Ubuntu 9.04 in September, he expressed interest in making this popular Linux distribution boot "blindly quick", which shouldn't be surprising considering Ubuntu's presence on more and more devices through the desktop spin on notebooks, Ubuntu Mobile on MIDs, and Ubuntu Netbook Remix on netbooks. The goal with Ubuntu 9.04 is to expedite the boot process through kernel modifications and optimizing other services.
Canonical isn't the only Linux vendor interested in speeding up the boot performance but Mandriva has been doing the same, Intel has been aggressively interested in speeding up the boot process (with their Moblin project included), and many other companies also involved. If you are interested in learning more about Linux boot performance, you may be interested in our Ubuntu boot-time benchmarks and Fedora start-up benchmarks from earlier this year. Also worth looking at is our ASUS Eee PC 901 Linux boot benchmarks.
The focus on Ubuntu 9.04 will be on boot performance, but perhaps not the wider performance issues at hand with Ubuntu. Late last month we delivered benchmarks of Ubuntu 7.04 through 8.10 and had found the performance to get slower with time, at least with the test system we had used. Other readers and Ubuntu users have since chimed in on our forums and elsewhere with many feeling that Ubuntu has been indeed been getting sluggish on the desktop in the more recent releases. In addition, earlier this month we had delivered comparative benchmarks of Mac OS X 10.5 and Ubuntu 8.10 and had found that the Apple operating system had the upper hand. Finally yet importantly, we have looked at the X.Org and Mesa performance with both the Intel drivers and ATI drivers going back to the Feisty Fawn.
As development efforts on the Jaunty Jackalope progresses, we will be sure to deliver Ubuntu 9.04 benchmarks on a variety of hardware to see how the desktop performance pans out in this next Ubuntu release. You can run your own Linux benchmarks as well by using the Phoronix Test Suite, our advanced open-source testing software that provides automation support, software/hardware detection, and many other features. Some of the other changes in this next Ubuntu release will also influence the performance, such as Canonical considering making the move to EXA acceleration by default in the xf86-video-ati driver.
One of the other action items on the agenda for Ubuntu 9.04 that was mentioned by Mark Shuttleworth is the blending of web services and desktop applications.
As we shared last week, Ubuntu 9.04 will run on ARM-powered netbooks. Canonical and ARM have joined together to port the Ubuntu desktop to the ARMv7 architecture as this Linux distribution continues to appear on an increasing number of mobile devices.
Further affirming Ubuntu's position for mobile devices, Ubuntu 9.04 is set to include a number of power management improvements. Some of the changes this is set to entail include powering down wireless adapters when an Ethernet connection is being used, prompting the user to turn off WiFi/Bluetooth when not in use, an ultra low-power mode where USB and other systems would be shutdown, and other optimizations. If you are interested in learning more about the state of Linux power consumption, you may be interested in our Ubuntu power consumption tests and Linux versus Windows power comparison from late last year.