Now that the feature freeze for Ubuntu 8.10 is on, planning has begun for the next version: Ubuntu 9.04 “Jaunty Jackalope”.

The Warrior Rabbit is our talisman as we move into a year where we can reasonably expect Ubuntu to ship on several million devices, to consumers who can reasonably expect the software experience to be comparable to those of the traditional big OSV’s – Microsoft and Apple. The bar is set very high, and we have been given the opportunity to leap over it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shine, and we want to make sure that the very best thinking across the whole open source ecosystem is reflected in Ubuntu, because many people will judge free software as a whole by what we do.

The announcement goes on to lay out some goals for this release:

There are some specific goals that we need to meet in Jaunty. One of them is boot time. We want Ubuntu to boot as fast as possible – both in the standard case, and especially when it is being tailored to a specific device. The Jackalope is known for being so fast that it’s extremely hard to catch, and breeds only when lightning flashes. Let’s see if we can make booting or resuming Ubuntu blindingly quick.

One of the features under development for Fedora 10, 30SecondStartup, will also work to decrease boot time.

Another goal is the the blurring of web services and desktop applications. “Is it a deer? Is it a bunny? Or is it a weblication – a desktop application that seamlessly integrates the web!” This hare has legs – and horns – and we’ll be exploring it in much more detail for Jaunty. We have already laid some foundations for weblications in the online services discussions that took place in Prague, but since we fully expect those services to ship in 9.04 the discussion will be that much more intense in Mountain View.

Mozilla Prism blurs the line between web and desktop applications, and packages are already available which bring common web apps to the desktop with Prism. Will we see apps like Google Docs in the application menu via Prism in Ubuntu 9.04?

Those bizarre-but-fearsome antlers might well remind one of the intricate pattern of collaboration between developers in a distributed version control system. So it’s fitting that Jaunty will see us move all of Ubuntu into Bazaar. For the first time, any developer will be able to branch any Ubuntu package with a single bzr command, publish their changes, and perhaps even publish builds of that package in their own Package Archive. We will also make the developer community structure of Ubuntu much richer – in addition to MOTU and core-dev, we are introducing ways for developers to participate in specific applications, either at the package-upload level or at the version-control level. Whatever your level and specialisation of interest, we’ll make sure that you can participate accordingly.

I’m not too familiar with version control systems, but Bazaar should make it easier for developers to get involved.

Ubuntu 8.10 also had some goals when it was announced. Will Ubuntu meet them when 8.10 is released? Here are the two from the first announcement: “re-engineer the user interaction model so that Ubuntu works as well on a high-end workstation as it does on a feisty little subnotebook” (Yes! 8.10 will better support new netbook laptops, such as the Eee PC), “pervasive internet access, the ability to tap into bandwidth whenever and wherever you happen to be” (Yes! 8.10 includes an updated version of NetworkManager with support for 3G networking).

Wondering what a jackalope is? Wikipedia says it’s a fictional animal: a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope.


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