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Ubuntu Linux leader proposes six-week delay

Mark Shuttleworth wants more testing for "Dapper Drake" version, which will come with five-year support.

New versions of Ubuntu Linux have been released at a steady six-month cadence, but project founder Mark Shuttleworth is considering a six-week delay to improve the reliability of an important new version.

The next version, called Dapper Drake, is due in April. It's the first version that will have longer-term support commitments--three years for the desktop computer version and five years for servers, compared to 18 months for the current 5.10 "Breezy Badger" version.

Getting those features right is important, Shuttleworth said in an e-mail on Friday. "We will live with Dapper for five years--so let's give it a few extra weeks now so that it can be a real asset to the Ubuntu project for the full duration of its lifespan," Shuttleworth said.

and has made some strides--for example, IBM certified it to work with its DB2 database software in December. But work remains: On Sunday, a major security risk in Breezy Badger was discovered and patched: An installation log stored the administrator's root password in a plain text file readable by anyone on the system.

Ubuntu members can discuss the ups and downs of a delay during two Internet chat meetings Tuesday, he said.

Shuttleworth doesn't want to damage the Ubuntu reputation for timely releases, but a delay would permit better testing, more hardware and software certification, better support for Asian languages, and a more polished interface. Shuttleworth's Ubuntu-focused start-up, Canonical, hopes to offer round-the-clock support for the new version.

"In some senses Dapper is a first for us, in that it is the first 'enterprise-quality' release of Ubuntu, for which we plan to offer support for a very long time," Shuttleworth said. "I, and others, would very much like Dapper to stand proud amongst the traditional enterprise Linux releases from Red Hat, Debian and SUSE as an equal match on quality, support and presentation."

One Ubuntu competitor, Red Hat's Fedora, is due for a major update: Fedora Core 5 is scheduled to arrive on March 20.