April 11, 2007 5:19 PM PDT

Ubuntu's new Linux sports debugging tool

With its upcoming "Feisty Fawn" version of Ubuntu Linux due April 19, Canonical hopes to shed light on what happens when things go wrong.

Feisty Fawn, also known as version 7.04, comes with software that can send debugging information to help programmers track down the problems that cause applications to crash, Canonical Chief Executive Mark Shuttleworth said in an interview.

"There are potentially millions of users of an application on Ubuntu, but they don't have a relationship with us or upstream developers," Shuttleworth said. "If we can connect those two groups more effectively, it's good for both of them."

Automated, Internet-enabled debugging provides a useful way for programmers to hear about problems encountered by users who might not otherwise take the time to report them. Microsoft Windows has software for doing so, and the software giant is expanding it.

Automated crash reports also can help by supplying more technical detail than most people can provide. For example, "stack traces" show exactly what was on the computer's mind when the crash occurred.

"We've built infrastructure which allows us to detect whenever an application crashes...gather detailed information like a stack trace and ask the user if he's willing to give it back to us," Shuttleworth said.

Ubuntu has risen to popularity alongside better-established versions of Linux such as Red Hat, Suse Linux, Mandriva and Debian. Canonical, which began its Ubuntu push with an emphasis on desktop computers, is the latest in a long line of contenders that have attracted only a small fraction of users away from dominant Microsoft. But Canonical hopes to profit from Ubuntu's use on servers, a proven area of interest for the open-source operating system.

Some versions of Ubuntu come with long-term, five-year support--the first and most recent being 6.04, called Dapper Drake. Feisty Fawn won't be such a version, Shuttleworth said, and nor in all likelihood will its sequel. But another long-term support version is likely to emerge in April 2008, after two of Ubuntu's six-month release cycles go by, he said.

"I'd be betting on Feisty +2. That's about the right time frame," Shuttleworth said.

Ubuntu programmers had hoped to endow Feisty Fawn with a fancy 3D-graphics interface, but chose to make it optional after concluding the software wasn't mature enough.

"I don't always get what I want. That's good and healthy," Shuttleworth said.

But he's still excited by the possibilities of a glam interface, believing it could potentially spawn new programming projects in the way Firefox's plug-in interface has done.

"This desktop bling stuff, while easy to trivialize, is an area where people can come up with fundamentally exciting new ideas," Shuttleworth said. "If we can turn that on for free software users, we can unleash that creative flood."

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12 comments

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Errata: Ubuntu 6.06 is Long-Term-Support
The article states Ubuntu 6.04 is long term support. Such version does not exist, is 6.06 instead (codename: Dapper Drake).

Usually Ubuntu version scheme follows a x.04 (April release) and x.10 (October release), where xx is the year. However this rule was broken in 2006 for the release of Dapper Drake 6.06. The developers delayed the release to June (so the moniker 06..), to be able to polish that release further, so that it could sport the "long-time-support" label.
Posted by feranick (212 comments )
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Correct
Dapper Drake (which I am running) is version 6.06

And for people that have not figured out the versioning from your post already, the first number (6) is the year and the second number (04) is the month of the release.

The next version (Feisty Fawn) will be released in April of 2007, so it will be 7.04
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
Need to report on Ubuntu install crashes
I've tried 5 times to install Ubuntu on my standard dell desktop and the install has crashed every time (and always at different places) so hopefully this reporting tool tells someone what the heck is going on. It's too bad because I'd really like to try out Ubuntu.
Posted by xcgeek (14 comments )
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Install
The current install will boot you to a live CD and give you a chance to use it from CD before commiting to an install.

This is nice because you can still use the live CD while the distro installs in the backround.

If your system is failing to get that far I would check the md5sum of the .iso image you burned against one of the mirrors to make sure it isn't corrupt or something.

After that there is always the support forrums, but the good news is that if it is a bug in 6.10 then 7.04 is only a week away anyway.

Ignoring the 7.04 release, you could probably install 6.04, make /etc/apt/sources.list look like the following:

deb <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy main restricted
deb-src <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy main restricted

deb <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy-updates main restricted
deb-src <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy-updates main restricted

deb <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy universe
deb-src <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy universe

deb <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy-security main restricted
deb-src <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy-security main restricted

deb <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy-security universe
deb-src <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu" target="_newWindow">http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu</a> breezy-security universe

and then:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade


6.10 users should be able to upgrade to 7.04 with basicially the same method without needing to install from CD again. (this will be posted to ubuntuguide.org some time after 7.04 is released)
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Link Flag
Unbuntu
I have Unbutu and Fedora Core 6 running on my dell XPS laptop inside a VM (virtual Machine) and it runs fine. Maybe you should to try running this in a vm. You can get the Microsoft version for free, just google for it. I believe it cimes free with Vista. Good luck.
Posted by wzellars (1 comment )
Link Flag
Have you verified your memory?
I've encountered problems before installing Linux on systems that were able to run MS Windows, only to discover that some of the memory was bad. The Memtest option on the Ubuntu install CD is quite good for detecting such problems. That is the next thing I would check after verifying that the CD is correct.
Posted by acrider (14 comments )
Link Flag
Should be
Really, for the interaction of different factors, I should think that the date 07/04 will become historic, since it would be the beginning of the end of MS's dominance of the desktop.
Posted by m7sang7 (8 comments )
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Admire your spirit...
But I think the release of Apple's Leopard OS around June will be a more serious threat. My sense of Ubuntu as a Win/Ubuntu double-booter is that Ubuntu is about 2 years away from being stable and easy enough for the general public to take to. Being able to easily configure their favorite Windows softwares to work virtually in Ubuntu and effortless wireless connectivity will be the nuts to be cracked before the masses will jump on it.

It will be interesting to see how much market share Microsoft would have to lose to make investing analysts take notice. I think doubling Apple's numbers to about 10% of the market would be a stunning success over the next 12 months, but might not sound like a lot in the great scheme of things. Doubling Ubuntu's usership might be more of a problem than a help if the users are all end-users with no programming skills.

In any event I sense people are ready for change and open to anything that will take them out of our depressing Bush/Microsoft world...
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
Link Flag
Linus
wonder what he'd have to say about this
Posted by swhit3 (1 comment )
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Been using Ubuntu for a couple of years ...
... because it is free, most of it works out-of-the-box, and it found and activated my wireless card without my having to download (the wrong) drivers. Feisty Fawn will already install via a version 6 update. One caveat, Ubuntu does not seem to install on the newer laptops using the new Intel video chips, apparently because Intel has not provided free Linux drivers.
Posted by Ngallendou (27 comments )
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Ubuntu's new Linux sports debugging tool
Gotta' luv Ubuntu, I do.

Adler
Phoenix, Arizona
www.jjmacey.net
Posted by JJMacey (4 comments )
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