Ubuntu Desktop’s 24.10 Dev Cycle - The Roadmap

Hi folks, Oliver here. After over two and half years Product Managing Ubuntu here at Canonical I’m excited to be taking on the role of Interim Engineering Director for the Ubuntu Desktop team. I’ve worked closely with this group since the beginning, helping craft the roadmaps and priorities for all of our releases since Ubuntu 22.04 LTS and sharing behind the scenes stories highlighting our work on the Firefox snap, Ubuntu Core Desktop, the Steam snap and WSL along the way. Whilst the effort involved in shipping each new release of Ubuntu Desktop is well known to me, it’ll be a fresh experience to be able to continue to drive our shared vision from within the engineering team itself and work even more closely with this dedicated and passionate team.

But enough about me, you’re here to get the scoop on our roadmap for Ubuntu 24.10 - Oracular Oriole.*

*disclaimer: roadmaps are, as always, subject to change.

The three P’s; polish, polish, polish

With the enablement of framepointers by default, 64-bit time_t on armhf and the need to react swiftly to the xz-utils vulnerability, Ubuntu 24.04 LTS became quite the rebuild-athon heading into release. This reduced our timeline for changes going into Beta and the team shifted focus to stabilising and landing our most critical features, setting aside some of our wishlist items. As a result this next cycle is as much about taking the time to polish what we’ve already landed as it is about re-introducing some of those deferred priorities.

Provisioning, provisioning never changes

Thought we were done with the Ubuntu Desktop installer? Think again. There’s always more we can do to improve that first time user experience and make Ubuntu the most welcoming distro for newcomers and veterans alike.

This cycle our plan is to prepare the ground for expanded hardware support for TPM-backed Full Disk Encryption. First by re-enabling more detailed feedback on device configuration issues that are preventing users from enabling the feature, after which we’ll be supporting the snapd, kernel and foundations teams in landing NVIDIA driver support.

After installation our next step is to deliver a more fully-featured first boot experience. This will allow us to redesign the welcome wizard to be more consistent with the installer and surface user account creation previously handled by GNOME Initial Setup on pre-installed images.

In Ubuntu 24.04 LTS we’re ensuring support for an OEM-config or equivalent experience compatible with the new installer based on our work with our internal hardware certification and OEM teams.

All things apps and snaps

The App Centre (or should that be Center?) will continue to improve. After some experimentation with top chart layouts and app bundles in the gaming section of the application, we want to bring a richer discovery experience to other categories and a more robust back end to our app rating service. Support for third party deb installation will also land soon.

Next we’ll be looking at improved messaging about updating running snaps both inside and outside the App Center and surfacing more detailed information about snap publishers.

Finally, with the upcoming release of Ubuntu Core 24, we’ll be rebasing all of the snaps maintained by the Desktop Team to the latest release.

Fluttering the future

Flutter continues to be our platform of choice for new apps on Ubuntu Desktop and we’ve been collaborating closely with the upstream Flutter team on Linux specific features like desktop notifications, network manager interfaces, gsettings, bluetooth and more. We’ve also partnered with Invertase on bringing FlutterFire to Desktop and Dart. Our aim is not just to deliver great Ubuntu applications in Flutter but to make the desktop a first class citizen for multi-platform app creators and we’ll be investing even more in this area going forward.

Migrating Flutter from GTK3 to GTK4 is another priority that is needed to enhance both performance and accessibility support. This work takes place alongside continued improvements to our localisation pipelines.

GNOME 47 will <3 Wayland

It goes without saying that Ubuntu Desktop will continue to target the latest and greatest GNOME release, supported by the addition of our tiling and performance enhancements. In Ubuntu 24.10 we’re also planning to take the plunge and switch to Wayland by default for those with NVIDIA graphics cards. There are still a few known issues with this combination and due to the heavy use of Ubuntu Desktop in AI/ML, VFX and other industries we concluded that it was too early to make that switch in Ubuntu 24.04 LTS. That list has now shrunk to a number that makes us feel confident in enabling it in the upcoming interim release and give us the time to discover and resolve any additional “unknown unknowns” ahead of Ubuntu 26.04 LTS.

Crafting the Ubuntu Core Desktop

Behind the scenes Ubuntu Core Desktop continues to make progress. This is an exciting new way of delivering composable immutability in the desktop space and it’s important to ensure that the architecture of our fundamental building blocks are sound before putting it out into the wild. Once we have a suitable stable channel for all of the component snaps and have integrated the latest installer work from the classic experience we will make a development preview ISO available for the community to get their hands on.

(Much) more to come.

Goodbye aad_auth, welcome authd

In Ubuntu 23.04 we began working on support for cloud-based identity integration with Ubuntu Desktop. Our first implementation was aad_auth, a broker designed to support Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory (recently renamed to Entra ID) identity service. This implementation was limited, however, as it didn’t support device enrollment or Multi-Factor Authentication. Since then we’ve designed a more elegant authentication service, authd, which will support OpenID Connect in addition to the recently renamed Entra ID with a full device enrollment flow and MFA. This work is still in progress but we aim to land it in the LTS later this year to support organisations moving away from on-premise Active Directory solutions.

Feeling nostalgic

I heard a rumour that it was Ubuntu’s 20th anniversary this year… maybe we can add a few easter eggs to this upcoming release to celebrate. :wink:

Windows management with WSL

From Ubuntu Desktop to Ubuntu on desktops, the Windows Subsystem for Linux team is also hard at work on some new tools to make it easier to secure, manage and standardise Ubuntu instances on WSL. Ubuntu is the most popular distro on WSL, used by millions of developers around the world, often in corporate environments. It’s important to us that WSL users feel like they are truly a part of the Ubuntu journey.

We’re putting together a crew…

So ends the Ubuntu 24.10 roadmap. As the desktop team has grown over the last few years it’s been great to be able to introduce new, future focussed ideas around provisioning, security and accessibility whilst maintaining our capacity to polish and refine the features that make up the essentials of the Ubuntu experience. I hope you have seen the benefits of this growth in the pace of progress between each release but, as always, we want to do even more.

Our plan is to grow the Ubuntu Desktop team by at least another 50% over the next year and we are opening a range of positions across all levels of seniority in the coming weeks. At Canonical we think the future is bright for the Linux desktop and if you have the passion and skills to be at the cutting edge of performance, security, immutability and accessibility then we want to hear from you.

Do you have ideas on how to deliver a performant gaming experience on Ubuntu out of the box? Or are you fascinated by the possibilities of Linux and Windows interoperability? What are the pain points for administrators who want to secure and standardise their Linux desktops? Do you see the potential to unlock a whole new community of users with a stable, immutable OS? How do we make building cross platform applications feel as native and frictionless as possible? And how do we ensure that everyone has the tools to keep control of their data on their secured device?

Let me know. I’m all ears. :slightly_smiling_face:

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This sounds awesome. I currently have a full time gig with my own company and would love to help the cause in any way I can. My background is in Finance and I am a Product Owner - I have had a passion for linux/ubuntu since I learned about it in year one of my Comp Sci degree (which I dropped out to pursue finance). I am not overly technical where I can assist in the engineering side but I am sure I can help out in other ways!

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I’m really interested in what those easter eggs will be… And I’m also eager to find out more about Ubuntu Core Desktop. Current Ubuntu is easy to use, but I would love to see a more foolproof system that completely autoupdates itself, and if something goes wrong you can easily roll back. And it being immutable means the user shouldn’t be able to do potentially dangerous operations to the system. ChromeOS is pretty good in this aspect, but also pretty limited. EndlessOS is a good example of this, I think, but obviously the technology behind it is different. And knowing that snaps can do a lot of things, I am pretty interested in how it could turn out and the implications of it all. I don’t know if it’s something I would use over vanilla Ubuntu, but I think it would be something I would put on other people’s PCs, people that may not be that well versed into the realm of technology.

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Very happy with snaps so far, but am quite excited about making 3rd part .deb packages easier to install. Looks like it’s gonna be a great release!

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Is there any plans for switching CUPS(.deb) to CUPS(Snap), this cycle ?
It was delayed last cycle to ensure more QA Testing etc.

I hope CUPS doesn’t get converted to snap until ubuntu-bug works for snaps

Are there any plans on supporting Flatpak from the App Centre?

Ubuntu will never officially support flatpak. So, no.
https://github.com/ubuntu/app-center/issues/1336

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Not sure if this is the right thread for the question, bit I figured I’d give it a shot.

I know that the Gnome version of 24.10 is supposed to ship with Gnome 47 and Kubuntu with Plasma 6, but I was wondering how the specifics of the version that gets in the release gets determined. I had read (on a 9 to 5 Linux post) that the feature freeze date is supposed to be 15 Aug and the kernel freeze one 26 Sep, so does that mean that whatever versions of Gnome/KDE that are released then are what end up in 24.10? I’m personally interested because there’s a bug in KDE that seems to have been fixed in 6.04 onward (based on my downloading of KDE neon user and testing), and I was wondering whether we’d see that, or even 6.1, which should be out in a few days, or even something later if applicable.

Thanks!

I hope the newer installer can bring back BTRFS support with proper subvolume for root and home directory; it was there in legacy installer.