How to Try Ubuntu New Installer on Your Current Install

Itching to play around with Ubuntu’s new installer on an existing install? With the new Ubuntu Desktop Installer Snap, you can!

ubuntu-new-installer

Of course, it should be obvious to you that doing a fresh install of Ubuntu using the latest canary build is the only real way to “test” the revamped Flutter-built installer (y’know, to see if it actually installs anything). But not everyone wants to download a 4GB .ISO, create a USB, or go through the hassle of that.

How to Try Ubuntu New Installer on Your Current Install

Some folks (hi πŸ‘‹) just want to get a feel for the “experience” the new installer offers. Y’know, gawp at the visual changes between this ubiquity-based creation and the GTK Ubiquity installer most of us are (intimately) familiar with, i.e. click through the steps to see how it compares. And this nifty new (hidden) Snap make it easy. So what’s it like? Very similar to Ubiquity, to be honest — and that’s not a bad thing by any stretch, as these (mixed up, sorry) screenshots of various steps show:

Step: 1

installer-keyboard-layout

Step: 2

ubuntu-install-type

Step: 3

update

Step: 4

ubuntu-installer-connect-to-internet

Step: 5

ubuntu-installer-disk-space
Ubiquity is a simple, straight-forward installer (how I wish Fedora’s installer were as intuitive). The technology we install Ubuntu on may alternate but the actual process of installing Ubuntu hasn’t, not in years. Keeping the same options in the identical is smart and means existing users won’t feel putout of put-off by the new installer. That said, it is a bit buggy, and a bit leggy. I couldn’t get the installer Snap to release under Wayland so I had to log out and select an Or session. The installer took a while to seem after running it, and a little longer to actually ‘load’ anything within the UI. That said, I do find all Flutter apps I try on Ubuntu feel noticeably less responsive than GTK, Qt, and Electron software. This could, I accept, be a “my GPU” element, or it could be wider acceleration issue related to Flutter. My hope is that, if Ubuntu is Going all-in on Flutter for its own software, that this difference is resolved. Still, Ubuntu’s new installer is not “production ready” — the latest daily builds of Kinetic Kudu still use Ubiquity — mine (and anyone else’s) complaints are static, tbh. It’s a work in progress, not ready until it’s ready, and you should keep that in thoughts if trying it. Oh yes, how do you try it? You can install Ubuntu’s new installer by opening a terminal window and running:
sudo snap install ubuntu-desktop-installer --classic
Once installed you’ll find a new shortcut named “Install RELEASE” in the app grid. Click on this to open the installer. As I said earlier, this classic Snap of the installer isn’t an actual installer (as far as I’m aware, lol). I certainly couldn’t get it to install anything, nor see any connected drives, etc. Keep that in mind while probing and you should come away content. In all, a promising start for this GUI Flutter front-end for the ubiquity installer backend.

Why make a new installer?

Duplication of effort is a “meme” in open source, so if you’re sat there mouthing “what about Calibers?” (Or any other well-made alternative to Ubiquity) you’re probably not alone!

Why doesn’t Ubuntu just switch to something else instead of creating its own?

Well, it comes down to consistency and purpose.

Ubuntu desktop lead Martin Impress says his team evaluated the (many) alternative installers and toolkits that are out there but felt a bespoke installer experience is the best solution. Firstly, it will be able to adapt “across the Ubuntu product portfolio”, secondly it can use Ubuntu’s Yarus design language, and thirdly, it’ll be easier to build thanks to Curtin and Ubiquity.

Plus, a start-over gives devs the chance to built-in support for other kinds of features that Ubuntu’s users (who span desktop, enterprise, and server don’t forget) need in 2021, e.g., ZFS support, repair options, GRUB rescue, advanced partitioning, etc.

Available to try in Ubuntu 21.10

Users can expect to try the new installer by the time Ubuntu 21.10 arrives. This should give developers ample time to test the tech “in production” and decide whether it’s robust enough to feature it in the next long-term support (LTS) release.

GitHub repo for the new installer is already live and code present, proving that Ubuntu devs don’t plan to waste any more time in modernizing the Ubuntu install experience.

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