back to article Ubuntu 15.10: Wily Werewolf – not too hairy, not too scary

Ubuntu 15.10, Wily Werewolf, continues Canonical’s recent Ubuntu tradition of delivering, well, nothing earth shattering. There’s new scrollbars, borrowed from GNOME, a minor update for Unity, which is now at version 7.3.2, and an updated kernel with some new hardware support. What you won't find in this release are any major …

  1. Khaptain Silver badge

    Not an upgrade

    "minor updates, bug fixes, speed improvements and application updates "

    This appears to be, at most, just a couple of patches thrown out to the penguinistas under the guise of an update...

    Unless of course someone was actually waiting with baited breath for the new scrollbars...

    Scott did you draw the short straw by any chance when it came to who was to do the write up on Unbuntu 15.10...

    1. thames

      Re: Not an upgrade

      Well, "minor updates, bug fixes, speed improvements and application updates ", that's pretty much the definition of a typical upgrade. I use Ubuntu every day, and I really don't want them to change much. It lets me get my work done quickly, easily, and reliably. I don't want them fiddling around with the UI for no good reason. I think the improvements that Unity has over Gnome 2 (better workspace and window handling, better launcher, better keyboard short cuts, etc.) made that change worth while for me, and until someone comes up with some genuinely better idea, that's what I would want to stick with. I hope that when they eventually switch to Mir, I don't notice the change.

      Ubuntu follows a timed release schedule. Twice a year a new release comes out, and every year and a half or two years an LTS (long term support) release comes out. If a feature is ready, it goes in the release, If it's not ready, it has another chance in six months. There's no push to have some feature put in "ready or not" just to make the "new features" list longer in order to hype the version and drive sales (since the software is free anyway).

      I'd say Ubuntu have pretty much nailed the right balance of features for the desktop for now. Most new stuff at present seems to be going into the server versions (server, cloud, container, etc.) and mobile (Ubuntu Phone).

      If you want to try something "edgy" and experimental, there's other distros out there that do that sort of thing. Most people though are happy to just get things done and that's the market Ubuntu desktop serves.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Not an upgrade

        Obviously we have different opinions of the definition of upgrade. Moving between minor versions, especially with such few changes is not what I would classify as an "upgrade"... This was more of a 15.9 to 15.92 move....

        If you moved from 14 to 15, then yes there is not doubt about that classifying itself as an upgrade..

        But honestly, new scrollbars and a couple of application updates.... in my book that's just a patch release.

        1. thames

          Re: Not an upgrade

          @Khaptain - Well, that's the nature of timed release. The non-LTS release goes out every six months. If there's nothing radically new that's in shape for release, the release goes out without it.

          You'll get the newest version of whatever applications are available, and that's what most people will care about anyway. It's a new kernel, so you'll also get new hardware support.

          In terms of applications, they now have:

          - UbuntuMake, which makes installing developer tools and frameworks easier.

          - Steam Controller support, if you happen to be the type who likes games.

          The updated language tools include Python 3.5, and a newer GCC.

          For some people, the above would be a very worth while upgrade.

        2. bailey86

          Re: Not an upgrade

          BTW.

          The Ubuntu numbering is based on the release date.

        3. Salts

          Re: Not an upgrade

          @khaptain

          Not being condescending, just making sure, you do know Ubuntu upgrades twice per year regardless these upgrades are in April & October 4th & 10th month so this year we have 15.04 & 15.10 next year is 16.04 & 16.10 no point upgrades just every 6 months and every two(even) years an April Long Term Support(LTS) release, works for me.

          1. Ian 55

            Re: Not an upgrade... especially if you have AMD graphics

            It's been known for at least six weeks that the AMD binary drivers - widely used, because they have much better 3D performance than the open source ones - don't work and will lead to blackscreening.

            Incredibly, this has not stopped the release. Or some of the Ubuntu flavours actually documenting this side-effect of "upgrading".

            Even though someone discovered a fix: compile the installer with a specific version of gcc.

            I don't know whether this means that the installer code is making crap assumptions about the behaviour of the compiler or if the default version of gcc has a bug, but I do know that this is appalling behaviour. Releasing such system-breaking software because 'deadline', should be what Microsoft and Apple do to please their shareholders, not one of the flagships of open source.

            1. John Sanders
              Linux

              Re: Not an upgrade... especially if you have AMD graphics

              AMD's not being timely with porting their drivers to the latest kernels, nothing to do with Ubuntu, the open source maintained Radeon driver works perfectly out of the box.

              Shall the FOSS world stop releasing software because AMD is late to the party?

              This affects me as my main work PC has an ATI card and I occasionally need to run(game cough!) some 3D software, so 15.10 will not land on my main box, however my laptop runs on intel graphics.

              I'm sure that by the time the new LTS 16.04 comes this is a solved problem. This is not the first time something like this happens and it is not that important, This is not an MS based OS dear, it is not that your PC is going to upgrade on its own without your consent.

              Regarding AMD's they are converging on a common driver interface with the Radeon FOSS driver, so in the future the Radeon driver targets the kernel bits and the AMD driver uses the FOSS driver from user-space to gain access to the hardware, so this issue of not being fast enough tracking changes in the kernel to produce compatible binary drivers will end in a year or two.

      2. John Sanders
        Linux

        Re: Not an upgrade

        The fact that Ubuntu is mature enough to have boring releases is very, very good news.

        A Linux desktop is in essence a fine mess of hundreds of components from different developers. carefully tweaked to work together.

        This may look like a bad thing to the untrained eye, but in reality it is a bless as you can mix & match parts to your liking without destroying the entire thing or without being forced to upgrade unless you decide it is time.

        The only time where this "fine mess" becomes a problem is when distros decide to update stuff for the sake of look cool, modern, or innovative.

        Time to test this 15.10 on my laptop :-)

    2. DanceMan

      Re: baited breath

      That would be bated breath.

      Old Double Exposure (CBC) joke on former PM Jean Chretien, in his accented English, "I yam waiting wit bait on my breat....."

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Not an upgrade

      "someone was actually waiting with baited breath"

      Hoping to catch a penguin?

  2. ysth

    No reason to skip 15.10 and every reason not to.

    With ubuntu's switch to 9 month support for non LTS releases, you either have to stick to LTS releases, or update to every single new release (though you get a 3 month window in which to do so before you start not getting security updates).

    1. thames

      Yes, with longer support for the non-LTS they were trying to support too many versions simultaneously. If you just want to use Ubuntu without upgrading all the time, just use the LTS . You will have up to five years of support. If you upgrade from LTS to LTS, your desktop OS and applications won't be more than two years old at most.

      If you go on the non-LTS schedule, then you upgrade every six months. This track is for people who want the very latest stuff ASAP, but still want a desktop that doesn't fall down the stairs too often.

      I think it's a good compromise between something like Arch, where every day is upgrade day, and Red Hat / CentOS, who upgrade at a rate that seems like once a century.

      1. Steven Raith

        "If you go on the non-LTS schedule, then you upgrade every six months. This track is for people who want the very latest stuff ASAP, but still want a desktop that doesn't fall down the stairs too often."

        I was going to refute that, as every update since the initial Kernel 4.x update has caused me to have a black screen on boot. I thought it was some shitty compatability between kernel and mobo (as I have an AMD A8, which is pretty long in the teeth)...

        ...then I went through a full radeon driver uninstall, put Mesa back in, booted into Kernel 3.19 whatever, then booted into the latest and greatest kernel and...er...bosh, working fine.

        Note to self - don't forget the basics :-$ :-)

        Steven R

        1. thames

          @Steven Raith - "as I have an AMD A8"

          I've got one as well! AMD A8-5600K APU with Radeon(tm) HD Graphics × 4 (that's cut and paste from the "Details" GUI app). It's a great CPU plus GPU and very good value for money. I just use the default non-proprietary drivers and I've never have any problems with it. I highly recommend it.

          1. Steven Raith

            A8-3870 and Radeon 280 here; now that I've made it work, natch.

            I'll stick FireGL back on it (apparently Kernel 3 & 4 compile their modules in different ways, minor updates don't affect it) and it'll do me fine for Metro 2033.

            No really, that runs fine on the above at 1080p on Ultra. On linux. Natively. If you'd have said that two years ago I'd have told you to go fuck your hat, but it's perfectly fine!

            Ah, progress. Gotta love it. Bring on Vulkan, I say.

            Steven R

          2. Ian 55

            AMD graphics issues

            See bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/fglrx-installer/+bug/1493888 - they knew about this before releasing it. Only some versions of Ubuntu documented it in the release notes...

            1. Steven Raith

              Re: AMD graphics issues

              Ian 55, I only read issue/bug reports on work stuff. My own stuff at home, like to experience the excitement of how stuff fails to work as it happens :-)

      2. starskeptic

        Non-LTS support was actually shortened from 18 months.

      3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Arch user here, rolling releases can be a bit dodgy at times with weird things breaking sometimes. This is life on the bleeding edge. I would not recommend a rolling release OS to the average user.

        Back to 15.10; Ubuntu seems to reaching a level of maturity that major changes are behind the scenes for the user. Also, regular release schedule of Ubuntu seems to be a good compromise - often enough the be near the bleeding edge but not on it. Users have the choice of LTS releases with 5 years of support or being with hailing distance of the bleeding edge.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    to be that guy

    Yawn. Anybody else more interested in FreeBSD 10.3 and 11 going stable? Heck even OpenBSD latest 6 month dropping soon is more noteworthy. Might be because I tend to prefer POSIX OSs.

    1. Grifter

      Re: to be that guy

      You're such a rebel; Here, have a medal made out of aluminum foil lids from discarded yoghurt containers.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Re: to be that guy

      Linux is not a POSIX OS?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: to be that guy

        Not strictly, but close enough for most peoples' purposes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: to be that guy

          >You're such a rebel

          Nope just an neck beard with a tear in my eye for what is to become of UNIX.

          >Not strictly, but close enough for most peoples' purposes.

          If you mean most people don't know what POSIX is and in 10 years will just think of UNIX as that thing that became Linux then yes. Sadly even Windows is close enough for most peoples' purposes which is where Linux is heading.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: to be that guy

            Well if you're going to be pedantic, BSD isn't POSIX certified either.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: to be that guy

              Actually the BSD user land is through Mac OS but POSIX the actual certification process was always corporate/organizational bullshit like FIPS. Its following the standard and spirit of POSIX and UNIX that matters. Most of Linux land (especially Red Hat who is driving everything) is now openly hostile to POSIX. They have had their we are bigger than Jesus Christ moment and know they can now dictate long term the standard due to their resources are hell bent on going down the Windows road. The public will standardize on whatever (look at Windows and Android) once the herd starts moving.

  4. P.B. Lecavalier

    Click bait!

    Subtitle of the story mentioned mir, which is a very interesting topic, but had nothing about this in it. As I don't use Ubuntu, I am very enthusiastic whenever they throw in new and rather experimental stuff (until it pisses of people sufficiently to revert back to Micros~1).

    As much as I praise the move to a "fresh" X framework (Wayland, mir, whatever, bring em on), I am afraid that it will take forever. First, it has to be stable. That's the easy part, and we are not there yet. Then everything has to be ported, from what I understand, as it's not quite a drop-in replacement. What about the stuff that has gone unmaintained for a long time? Will be left behind. And so many will just stick to old X because... the new thing removes more than it adds.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Click bait!

      Valid points all.

      Although a replacement for X is long overdue, it's been around for so long it's pretty hardened, both Wayland and Mir have a long way to go in terms of replacing it outright.

      From what I've seen Xwayland does a fair job of running Xapps in Wayland (and xMir should do also, but I've only seen vids of it in action), so there is no need to port apps unless they perform a specific function related to X and need to run native to do the same for Wayland/Mir.

      It'll be around for some time to come, even just as a backup option for those of use who switch between a number of desktops and Window managers on whim or workflow. Having Wayland or Mir does not mean you can't also have X installed.

    2. John Sanders

      Re: Click bait!

      I share your concerns, and I'm glad to tell you that the reason for Wayland/Mir to take forever to be adopted/deployed is precisely that it is being done right.

      Also for anyone scared that X functionality may disappear, fear not, one of the components of Wayland is a complete X.org server XWayland that is a first class member of Wayland to provide support for apps still relying on X. Mir has a similar component me thinks.

      To understand why Wayland is required/what effect does it has over the display on a Linux computer check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux-WCpNvRFM

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Click bait!

        There's no doubt that X.org is a creaking dinosaur… it is older than I am. It was the first graphical system to be hardware/vendor independent.

        The other graphical systems at the time were married to the hardware: HP's Alto and Star, Apple's Lisa and Macintosh, the AT&T/Teletype Blit and the W windowing system (DEC VS100).

        A lot has changed, one big sore point of X right now is dealing with multi-monitors with differing pixel densities. One of my colleagues has a Lenovo ultrabook that has a very high resolution LCD panel, and when moving windows between his laptop screen and desktop monitor, he frequently has to zoom in or out to make the text readable.

        It otherwise handles multi-monitor, hot-plug, hardware acceleration and a lot of other features that would have been unheard-of back in the early days of X.

        The fact that they are not rushing Wayland to my way of thinking is a good thing. The source code is out there, so it isn't vapour-ware, you can try it today if you want. By the looks of things, it'll start replacing X when it is ready, and not before.

        This should avoid a Ballmer-balls-up of Vista proportions.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A viable Windows 10 competitor?

    Seems quite good. It just needs the few hundred different Linux distribution groups to all agree this is "THE ONE" and stop promoting any other Linux desktop distributions. After that it should be comparatively easy to get OEM's to offer it on new PC's.

    Before you know it it could be as popular as Windows.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: A viable Windows 10 competitor?

      If you are going to troll, be a 'man*' about it, post as yourself and take your downvotes.

      (*or at least as close as you can get without trimming your hooves).

      'One God, One Church, One People, One Fuhrer'... - Yeah, sure, like that's worked well in the past...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A viable Windows 10 competitor?

      Yes, like that policy has worked really well for Microsoft…

    3. nijam

      Re: A viable Windows 10 competitor?

      > Before you know it it could be as popular as Windows.

      It's already as *popular* as Windows. Just not as widely used.

  6. David Pearce

    If you bother to read the release notes, AMD fglrx proprietary driver does not work with 15.10 yet.

    Using the opensource radeon driver is suggested

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a shame AMD don't just put their payrolled developers on maintaining the open-source Radeon driver instead.

      Surely that is better than duplicating efforts with the open-source driver and fglrx? The current system is only good for making the end customer ultimately jump through hoops, it makes neither Ubuntu nor AMD look good.

      1. John Sanders
        Linux

        That is precisely being worked out.

        Both the Radeon FOSS and AMD drivers are converging on a single kernel interface shared across both.

        The proprietary bits will run in user space and will be swappable at runtime.

        Both FOSS and AMD will share work on the low level parts of the driver which is what really matters to avoid situations like the one you complain about.

        If only NVIDIA were working on something like that... but well at least NVIDIA is finally working on producing a KMS compatible driver at last.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Well, that should be a good move then. That said, I do wonder why even bother with the split in the higher layer parts, but then again, that's going to change less frequently.

          Interesting aside: we have a Dell workstation here with a ATI Radeon HD 5700 video card, driving four identical monitors: two on DVI, one HDMI (to DVI adapter) and one DisplayPort (to DVI adapter).

          Windows 7, fully up-to-date, downloaded latest beta ATI video driver this morning, I can choose any two monitors. If I try to enable three (or four), it tells me that it cannot save video settings, and the Catalyst control centre won't let me set that up either.

          Allegedly there's a work-around: use DVI-I→VGA adapters on the two DVI ports to make two of the displays analogue. I have not tried this.

          Reboot, hit F12 on boot, go to PXE network boot option and boot our copy of the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS LiveCD over the network: I am greeted with four Ubuntu logos, one on each screen. When it boots, I find I have independent control of each monitor, the only configuration needed is to tell Ubuntu how to arrange the monitors.

          No stuff-around with drivers. It. Just. Worked. I haven't checked, but pretty sure it was doing that with the open-source drivers too.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            >" I am greeted with four Ubuntu logos, one on each screen. When it boots, I find I have independent control of each monitor"

            What does it do if you also have four keyboards and mice (USB) connected?

            I'm only slightly joking, as I would be interested in knowing to what extent Ubuntu (or other Linux) distribution out of the box supports concurrent multi-user operation - something that currently needs additional software...

    2. Ian 55

      Reading the release notes

      Well, that would work if they actually mentioned it in the release notes.

      It's in the Ubuntu ones. It's not in, for example, the Ubuntu-MATE ones.

  7. Supa

    The public and upgrades.

    When Windows users upgrade: "WTF where is my start menu? WTF is this EULA and why is the NSA in my box?! F#%k you Cortana piece of...#! >:("

    When Linux users upgrade: "Oh! Look at that an upgrade. *Click*... Well my shit still works, so that's all good. Wait... what kind of upgrade was that!? Everything looks the same. :/"

    *looks at Windows user wishing he/she could complain like a pro upgrader.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All Linux lovers, please switch over to Mageia

    A solid distro that's not been infected by corporate dogmatism.

    It is the (spiritual?) successor of Madrake Linux (later Mandriva Linux).

    It'll even better if you can help out with the bug testing and localization.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All Linux lovers, please switch over to Mageia

      I'm happy with Gentoo thanks.

      I remember Mandrake when it was a dead ringer for Red Hat 7.2… and I wasn't impressed with it then.

  9. x 7

    All this confusion over updates, compatibility, drivers, dates......

    thats why I prefer Windows. Updates regular as clockwork. No need to differentiate between LTS and normal releases: everyone gets the same support. And a driver model that works as MS insist on signing the drivers

    Its all so simple, functional and reliable. What is wrong with that?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: All this confusion over updates, compatibility, drivers, dates......

      >thats why I prefer Windows. Updates regular as clockwork.

      Windows update worked well when MS behaved themselves and differentiated updates into patches and functionality enhancements. With W10 and recent 'updates' for W7/8/8.1 distributed via WUP, it would seem MS have decided to throw away this clarity.

      With the release stability necessary for enterprise, it would seem that MS are about to enter into the complexity of maintaining LTS and normal releases; expect minor version and build numbers to take on a greater significance, there again they could keep things simple and simply release Windows 11 in a couple of years...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ahh, x 7 I wish I could be as naïve as you.

      Windows has effectively been "LTS" from day one. They are now moving to a rolling release model in Windows 10. (i.e. you might as well call it Windows 10.YYYYMMDD where YYYYMMDD is the date of the last time Windows Update ran.) Everything Microsoft has promised seems to suggest it will be quite a jarring ride too.

      As for drivers, I can tell you things are not rosy in Windows land. You're reliant on the manufacturer shipping a new driver for your device that then is code-signed. If they've decided they've lost interest in supporting that device, you have no choice but to abandon updating or abandon the device.

      So in the Windows case, things are as bad, if not, worse than Linux.

      I did an install of Ubuntu 15.10 last night. Nothing needed configuring. Absolutely nothing. I went to configure the printer, turned the printer itself on (Canon multi-function), the printer set-up had the printer there already. Went to test the scanner… opened up the scanning tool, it JustWorked™.

      We wanted to see that the camera was compatible too. At first it wouldn't work, but then realised the SD card was empty. Took a photo, plugged it in. Shotwell popped up and immediately asked if we wanted to import the photo.

      So no confusion over drivers. Compatibility woes were no worse than what you'd expect even going between different releases of Windows, and the only people who worry about LTS versions are the ones who want a long-term stable release, you know, like the Enterprise hold-outs still running Windows XP and Windows 7.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        @Stuart L. Rolling release distros are a bit of a rough ride occasionally. I am an Arch user so I am familiar with an occasional problem requiring a bit of research. But I am also in IT so I should have some comfort with researching computer issues. And to be fair to Arch I chose to install it with fair warning.

        For the average user, I am very nervous because the first widespread problem will be a nightmare. They do not have the skills to research and fix the problem and will be relying on their cousin, child, etc. to fix the problem. They are expecting the same behavior with W10 and they have seen with previous releases which is a big mistake. But the mistake is not really their fault because MS has not been honest about how a rolling release works.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          a_yank_lurker: Yep, I run Gentoo personally, and yes, I've had my share of breakages.

          Debian Sid is another example of where you can expect something to work one day, be broken the next. It's named after the unstable character "Sid" from next door in the movie Toy Story. Its more formal name is Debian Unstable.

          The closest Microsoft equivalent would be the Windows Insiders program.

          Debian Testing is more like what the home user can expect from Windows 10. Things have had some testing, but they're not yet ready to be foisted on the unsuspecting enterprise users.

          Debian Stable with the backports repository is more like what the professional users can hope for and the enterprise are effectively on "old stable".

          The difference is… this is Microsoft's first attempt at something like this. Debian have been doing this for nearly 20 years.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Microsoft in one word. Driver support is an issue with Windows but with older hardware not newer. LTS is long turn support analogous to the support for each major Window release

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    7 years on - still ****ed !

    I gave up with Ubuntu after a niggling bug crept in around 8.04 which was confirmed by a few other users. Basically *something* choked the mouseclicks. You could see the mouse., Hovering over buttons triggered a mouse_over event, but clicking went nowhere.

    Initially it looked like a wireless problem. But a few other users confirmed the same issue with wired mice.

    Bugs were raised, posts made, and I was amused (but not surprised) to get an email recently from an Ubuntu forum because a desperate user had resurrected a post of mine asking if I ever found a solution. Not sure if they agree with my solution, which was to dump Ubuntu. (Debian has been 100% rock solid).

    What did amuse me was digging into the bug reports, it seems that every so often someone closes the bug report with the reason "this is over a year old, so must have been fixed".

    I am not, nor do I wish to be a linux developer. My contribution to the effort was to detail the bug as accurately as possible, along with my observations. I got as far as restarting the X-Server "fixed" it (for a while) along with a suspicion that something in the tray was popping up, stealing mouse focus, and never returning it.

    Given this bug effectively rendered a remote installation unusable (which is how I found it) it's hardly trivial. It happened in GNOME, XFCE and KDE, so is quite primitive.

    I don't expect to hear how this is the year of the Linux desktop anytime soon.

    For reference

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xorg-server/+bug/41301

    Notice the bug has never been "fixed". And that 2015-2006 = *9* years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 7 years on - still ****ed !

      So it's a bug in Ubuntu's xorg-server package and not Debian's? Anyone done a diff between the two versions?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 7 years on - still ****ed !

        So it's a bug in Ubuntu's xorg-server package and not Debian's? Anyone done a diff between the two versions?

        Not in 9 years, if the reports are anything to go by.

        .

  11. teknopaul Bronze badge

    grrr 15.10 killed both my laptops

    Not much features in it, but plenty problems. Spent all weekend recovering from 15.10. Four failed installs, xen borked, lxc borked, graphics driver problems in both laptops.

    I usually click upgrade as soon as it's offered. With remarkably few issues in years. 15.10 is going to make me more cautious.

    I think Canonical are guerrilla advertising snappy core.

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