Pulse 20 - Ubuntu desktop engineering roundup


It’s release week, and as we approach the final hours, we’re already seeing some excellent write-ups and videos out there. For those keen on the nitty-gritty, you might find the release notes worth a read.

For Pulse 20, the desktop team zeroed in on polish, housekeeping and bug squashing so there are no big changes to share with you this writeup. With that in mind, let’s dive into some other topics I’ve chosen to spotlight. Enjoy!

Let’s start with 24.04

I joined Canonical just before the 23.04 release, which meant I didn’t have as much planning time for this cycle as I’d have liked. So, as this cycle nears conclusion, my focus is increasingly shifting towards 24.04, particularly in terms of balancing the team’s capacity with our strategic priorities. Given that the next release is an LTS, we need to be thoughtful about what is included and what is excluded from our roadmap.

As our plans take shape, I’ll update you here, but I encourage you to reach out if you think we’ve missed something important or have a priority you feel should be considered. While I can’t guarantee that every suggestion will be incorporated, each will be given thoughtful consideration.

App Center

I’ll resist detailing what didn’t make it into the MVP :slightly_smiling_face:, and instead, I’ll focus on the App Center’s snap channels to explain the current state of affairs.

Under the hood, the App Center’s binary is named snap-store. We considered renaming it to app-center, but given that most users launch it via the dock or overview—remaining unaware of the binary name—we felt it wasn’t worth the risk of under-the-hood changes.

If you’re running the new App Center, you can check the channel you’re tracking by running snap info snap-store. You’ll see something like this:

You should see output like mine above, and at (2), you’ll see which channel you’re tracking. If you haven’t modified this, then on 23.10, your machine should be tracking latest/stable/ubuntu-23.10. As an aside, snap channels comprise three elements: <track>/<risk>/<branch> (docs); the branch is omitted in the channels table.

LTSs ship Ubuntu Software tracking latest/stable. In practice this means they follow the mainline branch of gnome-software, however, the new App Center is hosted on GitHub and does not share code with gnome-software. If we had published the App Center without specifying a branch, then every LTS would have received the new version. This wouldn’t be ideal, as the App Center and Ubuntu Software aren’t interchangeable. We’ve configured it so that the App Center’s mainline is automatically built and published to edge which you can track by running sudo snap refresh --channel=edge snap-store. Just be warned these are beta builds and so mileage may vary.

For the keen-eyed among you, you might have noticed a preview track in the channels table above. This is where the community Flutter store is published. Currently, this build is not maintained, and so we’re considering shutting down those channels. I’d welcome your thoughts on this.

App Ratings

One exciting feature activated this pulse was ratings :+1:. As you can see from the screenshot above, Firefox is the first snap with a computed rating: “Very Good”. All other snaps are listed as having “Insufficient Votes”. The system will compute a snap’s rating band—ranging from “Very Poor” to “Very Good”—once it receives 25 votes. We’re using the lower bound of the Wilson Score Confidence Interval for these calculations. You can read more about that method here or here.

To cast your vote, simply navigate to the details page of a snap you’ve installed. You’ll see options for :+1: or :-1:. Poke one and you’re done! Feel free to change your vote at any time by clicking the opposite thumb. Given that this system is new, it would be immensely helpful if everyone took a few moments to vote for the snaps they appreciate.

GNOME + :crab:

Lastly, for the Rust enthusiasts among us, the 23.10 GNOME Rust libraries have been updated. You can read more about that from @jbicha here.


That’s all for today. See you again in two weeks.

Kind regards,