Promoting Lucid Testing using KVM

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Sun Nov 8 21:27:56 GMT 2009

(moving to ubuntu-devel@)

On Thu, Nov 05, 2009 at 02:42:46PM -0600, Dustin Kirkland wrote:
> Along the lines of KVM testing, I have another suggestion of how KVM
> might be used to test the Lucid Desktop and Server...
> Update-Manager eventually pops up a message saying "There is a New
> Distribution Available..." etc. and offers to perform the upgrade of
> your entire OS, after we GA.  And then the masses update.  And people
> gripe on the forums about color schemes, and apps that disappeared or
> moved.  And then this gets picked up by "journalists" looking to drive
> website traffic by trashing the latest Ubuntu release...

I believe there is a way to sandbox the upgrade now, so it can be "test
driven" and rolled back if the user is not happy.

> I wonder if it would be useful to offer to install a desktop
> notification (through an opt-in package installation or toggle in
> Update-Manager) that tells Ubuntu users (who have VT capability on their
> CPU) know that there is a new Development Milestone ISO available, and
> offer to download and launch that new milestone ISO in a Virtual
> Machine.

Rick, Marjo and I are actually hoping to take this a step further in Lucid
by making it possible to do this in the cloud, instead of locally in KVM.
We've already done this for Server Edition, where you can start an EC2
instance using any daily build without even downloading anything.

We want to make the same experience possible with Desktop Edition.  No
downloading ISOs, no installation, just the latest development code running
on demand.

> We could "safely" expose non-developer Ubuntu users (still running 9.10)
> to our Lucid Alpha, Beta, and RC ISOs within a Virtual Machine. This
> won't help as much with hardware issues (video, sound, wireless, etc.).
> But could help tremendously with both Desktop and Server application
> space testing, design, user experience, artwork, documentation, etc.  We
> could really broaden our Lucid test base and get more feedback much
> sooner, rather than 2-weeks after GA.

We get a tremendous amount of feedback and testing of Desktop Edition during
development, but we could do with more early user testing of server
milestones.  I think a cloud solution is even more compelling for servers,
since they're command-line operated.  Why download hundreds of megabytes of
OS, and spend time installing it, when you just to see it running for a
little while?

> Using a new feature of KVM, you can actually boot ISOs over HTTP and
> FTP.  So users could actually do this without even downloading the whole
> ISO ahead of time (assuming reasonable download speed).
> If you grab the qemu-kvm currently in karmic-proposed, you can do:
> kvm -m 512 -cdrom
> And stream an Ubuntu ISO, over the Internet, without using a backing
> disk image -- running entirely in RAM.  It would be cool to see Ubuntu
> 9.10 users doing this en masse with the Karmic ISOs as they become
> available.

That's interesting.  I wonder what the performance is like for a typical
broadband user.

 - mdz

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