Trying Out Ubuntu's New Flutter+Curtin-Powered Desktop Installer Was Disappointing
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 21 October 2021 at 03:15 PM EDT. 30 Comments
UBUNTU --
An effort going on for a while at Canonical has been to develop a new desktop installer for Ubuntu. With the recent Ubuntu 21.10 release they are still using their classic Ubiquity installer by default but have published a new preview build of Ubuntu 21.10 with their new desktop installer option. Here is a look at Ubuntu's forthcoming new installer.

With a new daily preview build of Ubuntu's new installer and today's call for feedback on the new installer, I decided to give it a shot with this fresh ISO.


The new installer is built using Google's Flutter toolkit. Canonical has been investing heavily in Flutter work on Linux and is focusing on this toolkit for their original applications moving forward. Underneath, the new installer is making use of Curtin and leveraging other underlying technologies in common with Subiquity, their new server text-based installer introduced a few years ago to replace their Debian Installer usage.


While using Flutter, the installer is themed well and fits in with the GNOME Shell based Ubuntu desktop and doesn't look too different from the existing Ubiquity installer.


Functionality like one-click setup of fully encrypted disks is sadly not in place yet...


Users can also manually partition their disk(s) if so desired.


Another missing feature is the lack of OpenZFS file-system installation support... Canonical was so big on ZFSOnLinux/OpenZFS a few years ago when rolling out support for ZFS-based root installations, but since then there has been much less work in this area. Ubuntu's work on OpenZFS support is seldom discussed these days and seemingly losing interest in this area at least from my external observations. Now with their new installer there is no option for a ZFS-based install, unless it's something they are adding later.


This new installer otherwise is quite similar to the existing Ubiquity.


And off to the installation...


But within a few minutes of starting the install, it unsuccessfully stopped -- "something went wrong" it reported and to "please restart the machine". Needless to say, the new installer is still a work-in-progress.

It will be interesting to see how mature this new Ubuntu desktop installer is by the time of Ubuntu 22.04 LTS in the spring. In particular, whether Canonical is comfortable enough with it to use it as the default desktop installer for that Long Term Support release or delay introducing it for that all important release.

Back in Ubuntu Server 18.04 LTS, they introduced their new server installer and was also a rather unfortunate experience at first. For Ubuntu Server 18.04.0 LTS, their new default installer lacked RAID support and LAN bonding, among other features. It also mistakenly for two years was leaking encrypted storage passphrases to its log. Hopefully when the switch to this new installer is made, it will be in much better standing.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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