This is an alpha release. Do not install it on production machines. The final stable version will be released on October 29th, 2009.
New features in Karmic
Development for Karmic just recently opened and many of the new features have not yet started to appear. Currently the changes include the sync of packages from Debian Unstable or Sid has begun, a new kernel based on 2.6.30 and the latest development release of GNOME, 2.27.1.
Please test and report any bugs you find:
As with every new release, packages--applications and software of all kinds--are being updated at a rapid pace. Many of these packages come from an automatic sync from Debian's Unstable branch. For a list of all packages being accepted for 9.10 Karmic Koala, please subscribe to karmic-changes:
Ubuntu Karmic Alpha 2 includes the latest GNOME 2.27.1 development release.
Linux kernel 2.6.30
Alpha 2 includes the 2.6.30-5.6 kernel based on 2.6.30-rc5. The kernel will ship with Kernel Mode Setting enabled for Intel graphics (see below). LRM is deprecated in favour of DKMS packages.
hal deprecation started
Karmic Alpha 2's underlying technology for power management and laptop Fn key maps was moved from "hal" (which is going to be deprecated soon) to "DeviceKit-power" and "udev-extras". When testing Alpha 2, please pay particular attention to regressions in those two areas and report bugs.
New Intel video driver architecture available for testing
In later Karmic milestones the Intel video driver will most probably switch from the current "EXA" acceleration method to the new "UXA". This will solve major performance problems of Ubuntu 9.04, but is still not as stable as EXA, which is why it is not yet enabled by default. We invite you to help testing UXA, please see the instructions and feedback page.
Feedback about the new "kernel mode setting" feature is also heavily appreciated. This will reduce video mode switching flicker at booting, and dramatically speed up suspend/resume. Please see the instructions and feedback page for details.
New default compiler
Karmic uses GCC-4.4 as the default compiler, which in some parts is more strict than GCC-4.3, see list of changes. Please make sure to test packages on karmic or in a karmic chroot before upload.
ext4 by default
The new "ext4″ filesystem is used by default for new installations of Karmic; of course, other filesystems are still available via the manual partitioner. Existing filesystems will not be upgraded.
If you have full backups and are confident, you can upgrade an existing ext3 filesystem to ext4 by following directions in the Ext4 Howto (note that the comments on that page at the time of writing about Ubuntu's use of vol_id vs. blkid are out of date and are not applicable to Karmic). Maximum performance will typically only be achieved on new filesystems, not on filesystems that have been upgraded from ext3.
GRUB 2 by default
GRUB 2 is the default boot loader for new installations of Karmic, replacing the previous GRUB "Legacy" boot loader. Existing systems will not be upgraded to GRUB 2 at this time, as automatically reinstalling the boot loader is an inherently risky operation.
If you wish to upgrade your system to GRUB 2, then see the GRUB 2 testing page for instructions. See also the upstream draft manual.
Some features are still missing relative to GRUB Legacy. Notable among these are lock/password support, an equivalent of grub-reboot, and Xen handling.
Download Ubuntu 9.10 Alpha 2 from here