DEC
23
2007

A Nice Christmas Gift by Canonical?

The week saw this Kubuntu announcement being posted which mixes two news, reasons the one with the other and left some users imo rather confused as shown by this user comment: "IMHO this is a nice present by the Kubuntu Community and Canonical to the KDE Community". So what was announced?

Kubuntu 8.04 will ship KDE 4.0 as option/on an alternative CD (read KDE 3.5 will exist in Kubuntu 8.04 too). I guess this "news" does not surprise anyone. Also that the Kubuntu community developers want to focus on doing cool new stuff.

The real news is that Kubuntu 8.04 will be, unlike Ubuntu 8.04, no LTS release. LTS stands for "Long Term Support", meaning 3 years support on the desktop, and is a label given to certain releases by the commercial company behind Ubuntu called Canonical.

This is real bummer! So the next Kubuntu LTS we will see, if ever at all, will not appear before 2010. This leaves users/customers who eg planned to update from previous Kubuntu LTS release with a rather big gap by surprise. Ubuntu 8.04 LTS will happen as expected, just the KDE packages on it will have only 18 months support. This means also the KDE 3.5 packages! Would Canonical have the burden to maintain KDE 3.5 alone for further 3 years? No, as eg the KDE 3.5 as contained in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 will be supported by Novell until 2011 (extended support even until 2013).

How the decision to support KDE 4.0 shall relate to not giving support (which basically is about critical/security bug fixes) for KDE 3.5 is a mystery to me. One is done by the community, while LTS is said to be a Canonical only thing. My guess is that from the community nobody will work on support at latest starting month 7 (when the next release is out) anyway.

Am I the only one who sees a growing discrepancy between Mark Shuttleworth, Patron of KDE as individual and who promised last year at LinuxTag to not treat KDE second class to GNOME, and what his company Canonical is actually doing?

Comments

you're right, something is wrong. Of course, we can go into a conspiracy theory ("Gnomes in Ubuntu got afraid of KDE 4 and ensured Kubuntu got even less support"), but as far as I can tell - this isn't special. Despite what Mark said, Canonical hasn't given any more support to Kubuntu lately, and Jonathan seems rather overworked. They introduce new features in the underlying infrastructure in Ubuntu, and do that at such a timepoint it's impossible to support those features in Kubuntu - so it'll be left behind. Seems almost on purpose.

Apparently, the (few) KDE developers at Canonical aren't as good at political stuff as the Gnome developers. Rather typical, and I think the same happens at Suse where the majority of resources (ppl, money) goes into KDE technology - yet the whole world seems to think Novell is squarely behind Gnome. Gnomes often just get their message out a lot better. And of course management is most impressed by what they hear and see, not by what is actually done.

But this is FOSS, not dependend on company politics, and I still believe the best technology will prevail. Besides, despite all the talk and impressed managers, the majority of OpenSuse users is behind KDE - and KDE is getting better and better support in Fedora as well. Mandriva does great, etcetera - it's mostly Kubuntu which lately gets its ass kicked. Unfortunately.


By superstoned at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 11:36

While I agree on some of your points I have some problems with this statement;

    So the next Kubuntu LTS we will see, if ever at all, will not appear before 2010

I'm not sure how you conclude this. I mean; can you predict what canonical will do? What the market will request that company to do?

The short story is that canonical is not making any promises right now; which is a sane thing to do. Burning them for it seems silly. Instead; lets work on making KDE4 a success and show that canonical has a good business proposition in creating a Kubuntu LTS next year or so.

Being constructive tends to have much better results then kicking people :)


By Thomas Zander at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 11:37

The one of the design principles of Ubuntu (which I have recently read) is that there should be only one recommended way to do something. Shipping Kubuntu with 3.5 and 4.0 breaks that principle, and here's my take on that:

Canonical wants to deliver the best support possible. This means that when a customer says "I just installed the latest version of Kubuntu", we shouldn't need to ask them questions about which desktop they are using. Some user may very well not even know. Canonical clearly believes in 4.0, and wants to make the KDE community happy by giving us 4.0 as soon as possible, and doesn't want to commit to supporting the 3.5 version 3 years down the road when it's likely to disappear as an option in less than a year.

Does this mean Kubuntu won't get LTS until 2010? Not necessarily. In fact, when I heard the news, I heard it as "LTS for Kubuntu got pushed back to Hardy+1"... Although I'm not sure that was any kind of official announcement, and I've forgotten the source of that. Official or not, it makes sense. If Hardy+1 is going to drop KDE3 entirely, Canonical could make that the LTS for Kubuntu and then just sync Ubuntu and Kubuntu back up on the next Ubuntu LTS release.

Nothing to see here. Move along.


By wolfger at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 12:00

> "there should be only one recommended way to do something".

Sounds like the GNOME desktop is it then.

> Shipping Kubuntu with 3.5 and 4.0 breaks that principle

I think you're mistaken seeing the state of KDE 4 as the single reason for this decision, that's only used as a pretextual argument.

> I heard it as "LTS for Kubuntu got pushed back to Hardy+1"... Although I'm not sure that was any kind of official announcement, and I've forgotten the source of that.

I will be happy when someone can point me to some official announcement telling that. Though I doubt it will ever exist, also because of seeing the obscurity behind this decision. It's the usual Shuttleworth strategy to keep everyone in hope as long as possible.


By at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 14:41

I think this is where I got the idea that Hardy+1 would be LTS:
"Why is Ubuntu 8.04 LTS and Kubuntu 8.04 not LTS? Why is Ubuntu 8.10 not LTS and Kubuntu 8.10 is LTS?"

Nothing to see here. Move along.


By wolfger at Thu, 12/27/2007 - 04:16

So the next Kubuntu LTS we will see, if ever at all, will not appear before 2010.

I don't think it will be that late.
The latest possible option is 9.04 since the old LTS runs out then, but as it is usually better to have an overlapping period, they are more likely using 8.10 as the Kubuntu LTS

Think about it: doing the next LTS in 10.04 would mean guaranteeing an upgrade path over four years, skipping tons of intermediate releases.

Am I the only one who sees a growing discrepancy between Mark Shuttleworth, Patron of KDE as individual and who promised last year at LinuxTag to not treat KDE second class to GNOME, and what his company Canonical is actually doing?

From my point of view I rather interpret this as Kubuntu being treated as first class, being allowed to decide on its own timetable for LTS, allowing it to adjust better to KDE's release cycle.


By krake at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 12:43

> they are more likely using 8.10 as the Kubuntu LTS

Stop dreaming. If there will be no Ubuntu 8.10 LTS then there will be no Kubuntu 8.10 LTS. Canonical doesn't have the resources to label something LTS more than every second year (and there will be no customers demanding that either). Doing a Kubuntu 8.10 LTS would mean that all packages below KDE in that 8.10 specific versions would have to be supported for 3 years. That's a lot more effort than supporting the "few" KDE packages of 8.10 which Canonical is now denying to do.

> From my point of view I rather interpret this as Kubuntu being treated as first class, being allowed to decide on its own timetable for LTS, allowing it to adjust better to KDE's release cycle.

You're so mistaken. :-( Kubuntu community doesn't decide about LTS but Canonical. The release timetable isn't changed at all - it's still release every 6 month at same date as Ubuntu. But go and inquire Canonical when next Ubuntu LTS will happen if you're still confident in Canonical's LTS planning.


By at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 14:30

If there will be no Ubuntu 8.10 LTS then there will be no Kubuntu 8.10 LTS.

Hmm, they could probably release two versions in October, one with Ubuntu LTS core and updated KDE packages and one with recent Ubuntu core and exactly the same KDE packages.
Only one set of KDE packages, the rest is maintained by the core team.

Otherwise their their only option left would be to extend the LTS period of the current Kubuntu LTS version by at least another year so it reaches the 2010 LTS release.

This would IMHO be even more challenging for the Kubuntu developers, as doing a smooth upgrade without the intermediate step doesn't sound quite easy to me.


By krake at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 19:09

Did you consider that they do likely nothing of that because they simply don't care about Kubuntu?


By at Sun, 12/23/2007 - 19:46

Yes, I did.
I am a software engineer, I always consider the worst case.

I also always assume that being the worst case is enough motivation to work on better solutions.

Additionally it is a very limited worst case, since it only affects people using Kubuntu as a distribution to rely on.

Doesn't affect any of the continually upgrading people, which is quite likely the majority of *buntu users, and especially doesn't affect people like you and me who use something completely different (pun intended)

Might even be a bonus for distributions built upon Kubuntu, since they can now offer added value by giving an additional LTS guarantee for their KDE on top of the Canonical guarantee for the core.

I agree that it looks weird in the light of certain statements but only time will tell if Kubuntu LTS users are really abandoned or if they'll get their update later but still in time, i.e. 2009 Q2 release.


By krake at Mon, 12/24/2007 - 14:27

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