Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic Beaver) – Some notable changes for sysadmin and Java dev

If you administer a Ubuntu server or if you are a power user, you might have a look at these particular changes in Ubuntu before and after upgrading. They can impact your installation and the way you use it.

  • NTP is no longer supported (part of Universe), you should use now Chrony. My opinion is that Chrony is not a bad choice either, it’s perhaps smoother in handling leap seconds (via smearing) but obviously less accurate than NTP in the case.
  • The local DNS resolver is no longer dnsmasq but systemd-resolvd. For most user this should be transparent. Note that if systemd-resolvd does not receive a DNS configuration, it will fallback to using Google Public DNS.
  • Network will be now managed by systemd-networkd (or still by NetworkManager on the desktop) for new installation. If you upgrade, you will still have the old `/etc/network/interfaces` file (and al) and the ifup and ifdown scripts. But this is no longer installed on new installation. Instead you have systemd-networkd and netplan. For people upgrading there is (not yet) clear path to switch to the new tools if wished.

Ubuntu 18.04 offers many more changes and I’m looking forward to upgrade my desktop and server. There are other changes not mentioned above which should be evaluated before upgrading. But I consider the above ones as core element which everybody needs whatever the purpose of the server is.

For developers, I would take care with Java and the OpenJDK. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS came with OpenJDK 8 which is the current LTS version of Java. The next LTS version of Java is 11 which is not yet published. Ubuntu 18.04 will come with OpenJDK 10 (a short-term support edition) by default and will switch the default to OpenJDK 11 when it will be released (hopefully only for new installation). Ubuntu will still provide OpenJDK 8 in universe for 18.04 with security support provided until EOL of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (so until April 2021) to offer developer a transition time (while waiting for Java 11 to be published, matured and application migrated/validated on this new platform).

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