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Ubuntu 10.10 moves towards completion

Maverick Meerkat follows the Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS release so for some this offers a chance to experiment, with a little wider tolerance for more revolutionary features. Ubuntu developer, Dave Walker, talks us through some new features and development background…

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This article is due to appear in issue 92 of Linux User & Developer magazine.

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Maverick has striven to build on the choices of Lucid, bringing slightly more bleeding-edge versions of software while attempting to maintain the stability that Lucid provided.

Some of the features we are seeing in Maverick are, as usual, newer versions of applications. This release potentially has a larger jump in versions, as Lucid synchronised and merged from Debian Testing; but Maverick reverted to the usual practice of importing from Debian Unstable, which has higher version numbers. One of the surprises that came out of Debconf (the Debian conference) was the announcement of their feature freeze, which meant that Debian stabilisations commenced mid-cycle for Maverick in preparation for their next stable release.

The superb timing, which I believe is less than accidental, is actually beneficial to both distributions. It allows Ubuntu to maintain an approach of largely getting the latest and greatest, while also maintaining quality of bug fixes only. The benefit to Debian is that it is easier for Ubuntu developers to pass patches back to Debian, as the chance of running the same version (with the same bugs) in both projects is greater. I feel this is partly the realisation of Mark Shuttleworth’s controversial suggestion of unification of development cycle ‘cadences’, although this could equally be good fortune.

The desktop has seen a range of changes and although this isn’t the area where my development has been targeted this cycle, I have been running Maverick as a desktop on a few of my machines for some time. Over the last few weeks I have witnessed some of the changes introduced at a subtle pace. The most noticeable change is usually the desktop theme and this time we have an additional polish of the themes introduced in Lucid, which are Ambiance (dark) and Radiant (light).

Some criticism was raised in the Lucid cycle, with the revolutionary theme developed quietly and dropped into the archive towards the end of the cycle. The design team made great efforts to rectify this by working more publicly and documenting their work on the Ubuntu Planet via the new design blog. The new Ubuntu font has occupied much of their time and the end result is now quite pleasing to the eye. Some of the subtle improvements include window button design enhancement, a slight emphasis on what menu item is selected and a nifty Rhythmbox widget bundled under the sound volume indicator app.

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