Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ubuntu Technical Goals

While a respectful community and adherence to a set of philosophical goals provide an important frame in which the Ubuntu project works, Ubuntu is, at the end of the day, a technical project. As a result, it only makes sense that in addition to philosophical goals and a project constitution, Ubuntu also has a set of technical goals.

The first technical goal of the project, and perhaps the most important one, is the coordination of regular and predictable releases. In April 2004, at the Warthogs meeting, the project set a goal for its initial proof-of-concept release six months out. In part due to the resounding success of that project, and in larger part due to the GNOME release schedule, the team has stuck to a regular and predictable six-month release cycle and has only once chosen to extend the release schedule—by six weeks for the first LTS release to ensure it was done right—and only then after obtaining community consensus on the decision. The team then doubled its efforts and made the next release in a mere four and a half months, putting its release schedule back on track. Frequent releases are important because users can then use the latest and greatest free software available—something that is essential in a development environment as vibrant and rapidly changing and improving as the free software community. Predictable releases are important, especially to businesses, because it means that they can organize their business plans around Ubuntu. Through consistent releases, Ubuntu can provide a platform that businesses and derivative distributions can rely upon to grow and build.

While releasing frequently and reliably is important, the released software must then be supported. Ubuntu, like all distributions, must deal with the fact that all software has bugs. Most bugs are minor, but fixing them may introduce even worse issues. Therefore, fixing bugs after a release must be done carefully or not at all. The Ubuntu project engages in major changes, including bug fixes, between releases only when the changes can be extensively tested. However, some bugs risk the loss of users’ information or pose a serious security vulnerability. These bugs are fixed immediately and made available as updates for the released distribution. The Ubuntu community works hard to find and minimize all types of bugs before releases and is largely successful in squashing the worst. However, because there is always the possibility that more of these bugs will be found, Ubuntu commits to supporting every release for 18 months after it is released. In the case of LTS releases such as the original LTS, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, released in 2006, the project went well beyond even this and committed to support the release for three full years on desktop computers and for five years in a server configuration. This proved so popular with businesses, institutions, and the users of Ubuntu servers that in 2008 and 2010, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and 10.04 LTS were released with similar three- and five-year desktop and server extended support commitments.

This bipartite approach to servers and desktops implies the third major technical commitment of the Ubuntu project: support for both servers and desktop computers in separate but equally emphasized modes. While Ubuntu continues to be more well known, and perhaps more popular, in desktop configurations, there exist teams of Ubuntu developers focused both on server and desktop users. The Ubuntu project believes that both desktops and servers are essential and provides installation methods on every CD for both types of systems. Ubuntu provides tested and supported software appropriate to the most common actions in both environments and documentation for each. This book contains information on running Ubuntu both on the desktop and on a server. The release of 6.06 LTS with long-term support successfully helped pave the way for reliable long-term server support for Ubuntu and helped grow the now-vibrant Ubuntu server community. The 8.04 LTS release repeated this success with a more up-to-date platform, now being updated again with 10.04 LTS.

Finally, the Ubuntu project is committed to making it as easy as possible for users to transcend their role as consumers and users of software and to take advantage of each of the freedoms central to our philosophy. As a result, Ubuntu has tried to focus its development around the use and promotion of a single programming language, Python. The project has worked to ensure that Python is widely used throughout the system. By ensuring that desktop applications, text-based or console applications, and many of the “guts” of the system are written in or extensible in Python, Ubuntu is working to ensure that users need learn only one language in order to take advantage of, automate, and tweak many parts of their computer systems.

Source of Information : Prentice Hall The official Ubuntu Book 5th Edition 2010 
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