Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex Released

Ubuntu is releasing the latest version of their Ubuntu operating system today! Go download it now!

Here’s what’s new in Ubuntu 8.10:

  1. GNOME 2.24
  2. X.Org 7.4
  3. Linux kernel 2.6.27
  4. Encrypted private directory
  5. Guest session
  6. Network Manager 0.7
  7. DKMS
  8. Samba 3.2
  9. PAM authentication framework
  10. Totem BBC plugin
  11. Server Virtualization
  12. Notable inclusion in the main repository
  13. Boot degraded raid setting
  14. Service command now supported
  15. OpenLDAP using ”cn=config”
  16. Service-aware Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw)

GNOME 2.24

Ubuntu brings you the newest GNOME 2.24 desktop environment with tons of bug-fixes and new features, some of which include:

  • Nautilus file manager has tab support (by Christian Neumair) and Eject icons for removable drives in Places sidebar (by Stefano Teso, Cosimo Cecchi, Christian Neumair, and others).
  • File Roller archive manager now supports ALZ, RZIP, CAB, TAR.7Z file types also (by Paolo Bacchilega and Changwoo Ryu).

X.Org 7.4

X.Org 7.4, the latest stable version of X.Org, is available in Intrepid. This release brings much better support for hot-pluggable input devices such as tablets, keyboards, and mice. At the same time this will allow the great majority of users to run without a /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. A new failsafe X is introduced, to give better tools for troubleshooting X startup failures.

Two of the older nvidia binary drivers are not available for X.Org 7.4 yet, so users of these drivers will be automatically switched to the corresponding open source drivers.

Linux kernel 2.6.27

Ubuntu 8.10 RC includes Linux kernel 2.6.27, a significant release with better hardware support and numerous bug-fixes.

Encrypted private directory

The ecryptfs-utils package was recently promoted to Ubuntu main, with support for a secret encrypted folder in your Home Folder (by Michael Halcrow, Dustin Kirkland, and Daniel Baumann).

You can help test this new feature by going to Applications → Accessories → Terminal and typing:

  • sudo aptitude install ecryptfs-utils
  • ecryptfs-setup-private

Guest session

The User Switcher panel applet (package fast-user-switch-applet) now provides an extra entry for starting a Guest session (by Martin Pitt). This creates a temporary password-less user account with restricted privileges: the account cannot access any users’ home directories, nor permanently store data. This is sufficiently safe to lend your laptop to someone else for a quick email check.
Network Manager 0.7

Ubuntu 8.10 RC ships Network Manager 0.7 (by Dan Williams and others), which comes with long-expected features, such as:

  • system wide settings (i.e., no need to log in in order to get a connection)
  • management of 3G connections (GSM/CDMA)
  • management of multiple active devices at once
  • management of PPP and PPPOE connections
  • management of devices with static IP configurations
  • route management for devices

More information can be found on the Network Manager wiki.

DKMS

DKMS (by Dell) is included in Ubuntu 8.10, allowing kernel drivers to be automatically rebuilt when new kernels are released. This makes it possible for kernel package updates to be made available immediately without waiting for rebuilds of driver packages, and without third-party driver packages becoming out of date when installing these kernel updates.

Samba 3.2

A lot of new features have been added in Samba 3.2 amongst them:

  • clustered file server support
  • encrypted network transport
  • ipv6 support
  • better integration with the latest version of Microsoft Windows™ clients and servers.

PAM authentication framework

Ubuntu 8.10 RC features a new pam-auth-update tool, which allows simple management of PAM authentication configuration for both desktops and servers (by Steve Langasek). Packages providing PAM modules will be configured automatically, and users can adjust their authentication preferences by running sudo pam-auth-update.

More information can be found in the Ubuntu wiki.

Totem BBC plugin

Ubuntu 8.10 RC features a new plugin for the Totem movie player that fetches free digital content from the BBC. To enable it, start Totem (Applications -> Sound & Video -> Movie Player), enable the plugin (Edit -> Plugins -> BBC content viewer) and select “BBC” from the drop-down labelled “Playlist”.

Thanks to the BBC and Collabora for their work developing this feature.

Server Virtualization

python-vm-builder

This is a complete rewrite of ubuntu-vm-builder featuring a better template system, a plugin architecture allowing support for other distributions, front-ends and additional functionalities such as post install task (–exec, –copy) or first boot (–first-boot, –first-login). It provides a compatibility mode with the previous command-line syntax and adds better reporting.

Python-vm-builder allows you to create a new virtual machine in a few minutes without going through the interactive installation process. It can be very useful for developers, software vendors or system administrators. A tutorial is available at https://help.ubuntu.com/community/JeOSVMBuilder

Ubuntu as a Xen guest

Using Ubuntu as a Xen guest is now a supported option included in the standard server kernel and is a choice when building virtual machines with python-vm-builder.

JeOS is now an option in the server installer

In an effort to simplify our build process and avoid confusion when trying to install JeOS on real hardware, JeOS is no longer provided as a separate ISO. Instead, it is an option that is activated on the server installer by pressing F4 on the first screen and selecting the “Install a minimal virtual machine” option.

Notable inclusion in the main repository

The following packages have been included in the main repository and are now supported options that can be of particular interest for server administrators:

  • Sun’s Java OpenJDK 1.6 – an open source implementation of the Java development kit
  • Apache’s Tomcat 6 – A Java servlet container
  • ClamAV – a virus detection engine that can be coupled to mail servers
  • SpamAssassin – A spam detection engine that can be coupled to mail servers

Boot degraded raid setting

Traditionally, booting an Ubuntu installation with the root filesystem on a degraded RAID drops the system into a busybox prompt in the initramfs. This is the safest choice as it will prevent any further possible harm to data and let administrator pick what to do, but was causing issues with server hosted in remote locations. A system administrator can now statically configure their machines to continue on booting even if a disk is bad in the array by issuing the following command:

echo "BOOT_DEGRADED=true" | sudo tee -a /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/mdadm

Additionally, this can be specified on the kernel boot line with the bootdegraded=[true|false] parameter.

Service command now supported

Fedora or Red-Hat administrators will now feel a bit more comfortable using Ubuntu as the service command they had been using to manage daemons is now standard on Ubuntu. In addition to the traditional sudo /etc/init.d/<service> [start|stop|restart] way of managing a process, it is now also possible to use sudo service <service> [start|stop|restart].

In addition, numerous standard services now support the status option so that, e.g., sudo service postfix status will now report if the service is running or not.

OpenLDAP using ”cn=config”

The default installation of the OpenLDAP server now uses the cn=config extension, which allows automatic synchronization between LDAP replicas of configuration changes made.

Service-aware Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw)

Common services now inform ufw of the ports that are recommended for their proper enabling, so the administrator can open them in a single simple command ufw allow <service>.

Multiple Desktop Wallpapers in Ubuntu 8.10

screenshot-compizconfig-settings-manager

The title of this article, well just the Ubuntu part, is a bit too specific, but I decided to use that to try to grab the Ubuntu communities attention and the fact that I’ll be showing this in Ubuntu. Also, I’m not writing this for anything other than Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 at the moment. If you are using anything else and want to try to follow this then please keep that in mind.

This guide actually came about because I recieved an email from a curious reader asking for tips or steps to do this. Since I didn’t have any idea myself, I turned to my trusty friend Google and did quite a bit of searching before I finally came across a solution that was spread over several pages. Now I’ve put it all together here.

The steps to get this working in Ubuntu are surprisingly simple. However, to achieve this effect you must be willing to sacrifice your Desktop icons. ;)

Basically, you obviously still have a background, but the icons will not appear there anymore. To view your desktop and icons you can always still use the Nautilus file browser and just navigate to your Desktop folder. You also lose the right click menu on the desktop, but the only time I ever use that is to change the background. After following these steps you won’t be changing your wallpaper that way anymore, but instead using the CompizConfig Settings Manager.

While Gnome is currently working towards fixing this bug that requires you to disable, they have clearly missed their projected goal of working the fix into Gnome 2.24 (as I’m using 2.24.1 in Ubuntu currently). A fix may still come in an updated 2.24.x build, but only time will tell. Coincidentally, the duplicate bug that it was matched to is marked as “Resolved.”

Please realize that I am in no way responsible for what you decide to do to your own installation after reading the following information. ;)

The basic steps consist of the following:

  1. Make sure that you have “CompizConfig Settings Manager” installed. If you don’t already have it installed then you can install it through the terminal using the following command:
    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
  2. Now that you have “CompizConfig Settings Manager” installed. Open it:
    System -> Preferences -> CompizConfig Settings Manager
  3. Now you can either scroll down towards the bottom of the list and find an option labeled “Wallpaper” or just search for it in the filter/search box at the top left. Enable this option and click on the title “Wallpaper” to open the preferences for this plugin.
    Wallpaper = enabled
  4. Now just click “New” and browse for the image files that you want to use (one by one). The order that you have them in the list will correspond to the order they are in the cube or in your Workspace Switcher panel applet.
    Add new images one by one.
  5. Back to your terminal window, launch the “Configuration Editor” by entering the following command and press enter:
    gconf-editor
  6. You’ll notice a tree list on the left. Navigate through the following levels.
    apps -> nautilus -> preferences
  7. After selecting “preferences,” look through the list on the right a little more than half way through until you find an option labeled “show_desktop” and disable it.
    show_desktop = disabled

Now you should be finished with all of the whole setup process. The only thing left to do is to log out and log back in or simply restart X by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Backspace once.

After logging back in, you should notice something like the following (depending on the artwork that you chose).

Hopefully these help, but if I were you I would wait until this feature is implemented correctly. Also, I will update this page when this feature is indeed implemented correctly and isn’t really just a hack anymore.

Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 RC

Today, Ubuntu 8.10 Release Candidate will be released to the public. Today’s release candidate will most likely be what you will see in the final release which is scheduled to be released a week from today (October 30th).

The only time anything is ever changed in a Release Candidate is when there is a show-stopper (crash, data lose, etc.). It will of course be updated from time to time after final release, but only for security fixes and other serious bugs.

It won’t be long before I run an upgrade and start testing Ubuntu 9.04, but I can give you my word that Ubuntu 8.10 is ready to be released! I just hope you’re ready for it!

UPDATE (2008-10-23 @ 4:55 PM):
If you want to try out Ubuntu 8.10, you can find upgrade instructions here.

After upgrading, you may want to take a look at a list of software to install after each Ubuntu setup for Ubuntu 8.04 or Ubuntu 8.10. I’ve even included a terminal commands for a copy and paste install that will install everything at once (simplifying your life ;) ).