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Canonical Unveils Plans for Immutable Ubuntu Desktop Empowered by Snap

An immutable Ubuntu desktop Linux may arrive in 2024 as part of the next LTS release.

Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu operating system, is charting a new course for its upcoming release, Ubuntu 24.04 LTS. In a bid to provide users with enhanced reliability, security, and manageability, Canonical is planning to introduce an alternative to the traditional Ubuntu Desktop image- an “Ubuntu Core”-based immutable desktop OS flavour. This move signifies a shift in focus for Ubuntu Core, which has traditionally catered to the IoT market and specialized areas.

The concept of an immutable OS, built on the foundation of Ubuntu Core and powered by Snaps, has long been at the core of Canonical’s strategy. Now, the company is exploring the potential of this approach for the Linux desktop, as highlighted in a recent blog post on Ubuntu.com. By leveraging the inherent properties of Ubuntu Core – secure boot, recovery states, and hardware-backed encryption, users can expect significant improvements in the security posture of their PCs.

Furthermore, introducing Ubuntu Core to the desktop environment introduces a new level of modularity to the user experience. Users will be free to experiment with alternative desktop environment snaps while enjoying the stability, reliability, and security of a highly stable, signed, and secure LTS base. This opens up exciting possibilities for customization without compromising on the core foundation of the operating system.

Ubuntu 22.04.2 LTS
Ubuntu 22.04.2 LTS

Another notable advantage of embracing Ubuntu Core for the Linux desktop is the utilization of snap channels. These channels enable the “rolling” of specific distribution elements, giving users the opportunity to opt-in to the latest updates.

However, it is important to acknowledge that while stability and security are paramount, developers and tinkerers may face some limitations. The immutability of the base OS restricts modification in favour of a seamless, “just works” experience. Canonical recognizes this and offers alternative solutions.

Developers seeking an open-source development platform can leverage container-based environments like LXD-based Crostini. On the other hand, tinkerers who value full control and responsibility over their system can continue to rely on the classic Ubuntu images.

Canonical’s plans for an immutable Ubuntu Desktop powered by Snap and Core mark an exciting milestone in the evolution of this popular Linux distribution. It’s worth pointing out that the traditional deb-based desktop ISO image also will be available alongside the snap-immutable version.

That said, it might be a good option for developers and enterprises who wants a core development platform. But on the contrary, it won’t be that much impactful for casual desktop users as long as the legacy installer is available. Also, I don’t think this move will be adopted by the official flavours.

Interesting time ahead.

Via Ubuntu blog

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