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Canonical planning an immutable desktop version of Ubuntu

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This could be very interesting and exciting. Canonical has confirmed they're working towards an immutable version of Ubuntu for desktop users based on all the work they've done with Ubuntu Core.

Mentioned initially in a comment on OMGUbuntu with a target for the next LTS (long term support) release, later a full blog post was put up on the official Ubuntu website going into more detail on their thoughts and plans. Don't worry though, the normal Ubuntu releases aren't going anywhere.

For those who don't follow what an immutable OS even is: in simple terms it keeps the main operating system as read-only, which is supposed to make it more stable, secure and easier to update with all your applications isolated from it with some sort of container system. So think like SteamOS on Steam Deck, Fedora Silverblue or Ubuntu Core and even Google's Chrome OS.

From the blog post:

Behind the scenes, the Canonical team has been actively exploring the benefits of Ubuntu Core beyond the realm of IoT, most notably in the context of developers and daily users.

The properties inherent to Ubuntu Core such as secure boot, recovery states and hardware backed encryption would bring significant improvements to the security posture of a user’s PC.

It also introduces the concept of modularity to the user experience, where users may experiment with alternative desktop environment snaps while remaining on a highly stable, signed and secure LTS base.

The use of snap channels also brings into the play the concept of ‘rolling’ certain elements of the distribution. Gamers, for example, might opt-in to a kernel channel that ships the latest NVIDIA drivers as soon as they are available, in the same way the Ubuntu Desktop team did for Mesa as part of our work on the Steam snap.

However, this level of stability and security comes with trade-offs for developers and tinkerers, restricting modification of the base OS in favour of a ‘just works’ experience. For developers who see their device as a platform for open source development, the solution is container-based environments similar to the LXD based Crostini. For tinkerers, the classic Ubuntu images would remain their preferred route to enable full control of (and responsibility for) their system.

While Ubuntu Core is meant for IoT OS for embedded devices, this is something different to give desktop users a potential taste of things to come. With the rise of more applications coming to the likes of Snap and Flatpak, this does make some sense and I think Jorge Castro's blog on how Linux distributions are changing is also a good read for what's to come.

Canonical has been expanding Snaps now for a while with the likes of the stable Steam snap for Ubuntu 23.04, the upcoming CUPS Snap and naturally plenty more to come.

How do you feel about an immutable version of Ubuntu with lots of Snap packages?

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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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14 Jun 11
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Quoting: redmanP.S: I really really like to try Pipewire and see better Bluetooth, but don't want to mess the packages!! And don't have time to tinker with them, now a day I rather spend my time playing something that tinkering with the OS and packages!
IIRC, if you're on Pulse right now, the only thing you have to do when you install Pipewire and remove Pulse, is to also install the Pipewire-pulse package (I don't know exact package names in Mint) to read in your Pulse config files. You don't have to make any changes to the config files.

You still have to remove a package and add two more, which risks things not going well, but it was smoother than I expected.
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