and its siblings are preparing
for the next Long Term Support (LTS) release, v8.04 (April 2008) - the
Hardy Heron. Ubuntu's first release was announced
in September 2004, with a (then)
brand new GNOME 2.8 desktop. Since then Ubuntu releases have been tied
pretty closely to GNOME releases.
Now, of course, we have Kubuntu for
KDE fans, and Xubuntu for Xfce fans. That's great, but Ubuntu
releases aren't timed for new versions of those desktops. And that's why
it seems that Kubuntu 8.04 will not be a LTS release after all.
The final release of KDE 4.0 will be out in January and a Kubuntu 7.10
live CD with KDE 4 RC2 is getting plenty of downloads. Interest in KDE 4.0
is high. Jonathan Riddell, Kubuntu project lead, writes: "Since KDE 4 is a major change
to the platform, it is not currently at one of these natural rest points so
would not be suitable for long term support. Instead, due to the very high
interest, development efforts will be directed towards KDE 4 and releasing
Kubuntu 8.04 with the option of using either KDE 3.5 or KDE 4."
Basically, it seems that Canonical,
Kubuntu's parent company, thinks that KDE 3.5 is stable enough for a LTS
release, but upstream support will be dropping off before the full three-year
period promised for a LTS release. KDE 4.0 is currently popular, and will
be supported upstream, but its not quite stable enough for a LTS release.
Richard A. Johnson presents
his viewpoint. "Kubuntu 8.04 will not be LTS, unless after all
of this hoopla something changes. Honestly, I do not see why the KDE 3.5
release can't be LTS, but as Jonathan said, that is Canonical's
calling." He continues, "If we were to continue to redirect
100% of our efforts to KDE 3.5, come this time next year, we will be so far
behind the rest of the distributions pushing KDE 4. We, Kubuntu Development
Team, do not have the resources to do both a KDE 3.5 LTS release as well as
a KDE 4 release at the same time. We cannot afford to neglect KDE 4 as a
distribution. If we were to neglect it now, we could never catch up to
distributions such as Fedora, openSUSE, and others who are just swarming
Kubuntu is sometimes seen a "second class citizen" compared to Ubuntu and
if Kubuntu does not release a LTS version that perception will only be
strengthened. But the developer pool is small and Canonical must decide
what they can realistically support for a 3 year time period, as opposed to
the usual 18 month period for most releases.
In another post,
Richard A. Johnson writes: "Don't get me wrong, I am torn between
LTS and non-LTS for a multitude of reasons. I know people want LTS and just
as many, if not more, want KDE 4. I am afraid that if we do the LTS way, we
will miss out on KDE 4 and the hype behind it. At the same time I worry
about those who were looking forward to an LTS release. At the same time, I
also realize we do 6 month releases, and majority of our users follow our
releases and typically upgrade on release day, the amount of noise created
in the past about dist-upgrade breakage supports this."
Krzysztof Lichota comments:
I think KDE 3.5 is not high-maintainance thing as it has been in Kubuntu
for many years and there are no changes after 3.5.8. It is just keeping
the state as it is...
I think putting much effort on KDE 4 i shooting yourself in the foot. It
is very new code (it isn't released even yet!) and it will contain lots
of bugs and cause a lot of problems. It also misses some features from
KDE 3. IMO 8.04 should be LTS release with mainly 3.5 support and with
option to try out KDE 4.
Others agree that focusing on KDE 3.5 for a LTS release is the way to go.
Unsupported live CDs with KDE 4 could be made available. And six months
after the Hardy release comes Kubuntu 8.10, which will certainly feature
Scott James Remnant notes:
"The community's input was actually sought on several points, and
many members of the Kubuntu community provided answers and insight that
contributed to the decision. It is difficult for this decision to be
made by the community because the community's stake in Kubuntu is one of
personal achievement and pride, whereas Canonical's is financial and of
commercial commitments. Had Canonical simply asked the community
"should Kubuntu 8.04 be an LTS?", the answer would not be based on the
same terms: instead more direct questions were asked such as "how long
will upstream work on KDE 3.5?""
Version 8.04 is only the second LTS release (the first being 6.06, aka
Dapper Drake), so this situation really hasn't come up before. It is bound
to come up again though. There may be other times in the future when
not all the Ubuntu siblings will have the same support cycle. It doesn't
necessarily make them second class, it just makes them more supportable.
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