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Musings on Machine Learning…

The Newest Ubuntu Linux 21.10 Impish Indri

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Introduction

When you run the Linux operating system, you aren’t running a single project. The core of Linux is the Linux Kernel which is the core of the operating system that handles memory management, multi-tasking, controlling hardware devices and providing useful services for application programs. A Linux distribution takes the Linux kernel and bundles with it other open source projects including applications, development tools, utilities and a graphical user interface. The Linux distribution provides an installer along with an update mechanism to keep everything up to date. Most distributions provide everything already compiled, so you don’t need to build the whole operating system from the open source code.

Ubuntu Linux is a popular Linux distribution that releases a new version every six months. If you’ve run Linux, you know that everything is updated fairly regularly, so what are these six month releases about? The continuous updates tend to be minor point releases with security and bug fixes. The six month releases include newer full version releases. This is where a newer version of the Linux kernel is included along with newer versions of all the applications and desktop GUI interface.

Ubuntu Linux is derived from the Debian Linux distribution. All these distributions are open source, so anyone can take a distribution, modify it and release it as a new distribution. Debian Linux is where the apt package management system originates, which is used for building, installing and updating software. Many distributions are based on this and then several distributions like Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Pop!_OS and Zorin OS are based on Ubuntu Linux.

Each Ubuntu version is named after an animal, in this case the Indri Lemur from Madagascar. We last reviewed the Groovy Gorilla release and the previous release was Hirsute Hippo. Notice how the alphabetic letter increases by one with each release.

New Linux Kernel

Linus Torvalds releases a new Linux Kernel every two to three months. These six month releases provide an opportunity to go to a newer kernel release. The Linux kernel 5.14 just released at the beginning of October which was a bit too new for this release, so the included Linux kernel is 5.13. This is still quite a new kernel and a couple versions higher than the 5.11 in the 21.04 release.

The main thing this gives you is new hardware support. Hardware vendors are always checking in new updates to better support their newest wares. Often older kernels will work with newer hardware, but won’t take advantage of any of the newer features until the support is added to the kernel. Other work in the kernel includes performance improvements and security improvements. Sadly, as security problems have been discovered in newer CPU chips, the fixes have been hurting performance, since some of the more advanced features can’t be used. This has been offsetting other work to improve code performance including using higher compiler optimization levels.

Gnome 4.0

Gnome is the window manager most people using Ubuntu use. You can switch to other Window managers like KDE or Xfce. The improvements to Gnome are subtle but they make the Linux experience a bit better with each release. There is nothing extraordinary about this update, everything works as before. However some of the features make better use of the screen real estate and tasks get a little more intuitive and easy.

Installation and Updates

Linux has a reputation for being hard to install. This is partly because no one ever installs Windows or MacOS, they come with the computer and most people never see the installation experience. There are a few computer manufacturers that ship Linux pre-installed such as Dell and System76; however, most Linux users start by installing Linux over something else.

The various Linux vendors have been working hard to make the installation process as painless as possible. Ubuntu has alway led in this regard and with this release is a newer installer that allows you to get up and running with fewer questions. Most settings are auto-detected and I found the installation painless.

Linux is very good at supporting hardware and chances are you can install this newest release on hardware long out of support from Windows or MacOS. Chances are if you install Ubuntu over Windows on an older computer, it will end up running far faster than you expect.

Lots of Extras

Linux distributions come with a lot of applications for free, including LibreOffice which has been updated to the newest 7.2 release. Of course you can install new versions of applications yourself, but most people don’t and just follow what the distribution gives them. A lot of times the main changes people notice are in the applications.

Not a Long Term Release

This release of Ubuntu isn’t a long term release, meaning it will only be supported for 9 months, after which you are expected to upgrade. You don’t need to upgrade and can use this version forever, you just can’t get direct support from Ubuntu and they won’t keep releasing bug fixes and security patches.

Ubuntu releases a long term release every two years. The next release in April, 2022 will be a long term release which will be supported for at least five years. Many people only run the long term releases as these are perceived as more stable and there is no pressure to upgrade. Personally, I like the half year releases and upgrade to them whether they are long term or not. I like running the newest releases and have found these Ubuntu releases to be quite stable.

Summary

Ubuntu is a great release and its release is noteworthy as many other distributions are based on it. I’ve always liked Ubuntu and find it does the jobs I need doing. I’m a software developer, so easily running development tools and libraries like for machine learning is important to me and I find these are usually supported in Ubuntu first, often before Windows, Mac OS and other Linux distributions.

If you are running mission critical server applications, then sticking to the latest long term release is the correct thing to do, but for personnel use, I recommend staying up to date with the latest half yearly release.

Written by smist08

October 23, 2021 at 1:58 pm

Posted in linux

Tagged with , ,

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