As part of work on the upcoming Ubuntu 24.04 release Canonical’s engineers have been working on improving the Ubuntu installer — with “provisioning” the key aim.


More Noble newness

Ubuntu’s New Desktop Security App

Yes, now that the Ubuntu desktop installer uses the same backend tech as the one in Ubuntu Server, Canonical wants to bring features mainly used in server deployments to desktop.

It says talking to OEMs made it realise its “focus was too much” on installing, so it will begin “evolving from installation to provisioning” in Ubuntu desktop.

Doing so streamlines their development process and make life easier those who need to install Ubuntu in managed environments.

While home users (hi) needs aren’t as complex (says who) as OEMs the idea is to focus on deliver a single dynamic install… er provisioner (?) that caters to everyone.

— Am I meant to look at my laptop and say “I’m going to provision Ubuntu on that” now? ?

Anyway, most of the interesting “provisioning” features, like setting up a user account after installing, won’t make it in to Ubuntu 24.04 LTS release, but we will see a visual revamp, a brand new options, and a rejig to the order some steps appear in.

Let’s take a look at what’s landed so far!

Ubuntu 24.04 Installer Refresh

Note: the following screenshots are heavily compressed (so any fuzzy icons or pixelated text are on me). Also, the installer designs below do not reflect the final, finished product so are subject to change.

As in the existing installer, the first page of gets to straight to business: pick a language:

Language selection remains first

The second side is brand new, giving up-front access to accessibility options. As per the new “provisioning” ethos, this slide allows users to setup accessibility options before they install Ubuntu and have those settings carry over.

Each of the 5 sections can be unfurled to reveal the options within. This all happens on the same page, so there are no pop-ups, modals, or dialogs to wrestle with. This conscientious improvement (looks to) greatly improve Ubuntu’s approach to out-of-the-box accessibility:

New accessibility options page

Keyboard layout section is now the third slide, and while there are no new options the page (as most others) adheres to the new design architecture. The image for this slide shows a grey laptop and compass because, er compass = travel = language, I guess?

Keyboard layout slide mixes metaphors

The ‘Connect to a network’ slide picks up a couple of (much needed buffs) that mean this page no longer looks quite as lost/empty as it did.

It now shows a header, “Connect to the internet?” to better explain the pain of the page to users, and illustrates the concept with a speech bubble housing a wi-fi icon and an arrow pointing to it:

This slide no longer looks like an afterthought

Another slide that’s markedly improved through this revamp is the install options page. Making the line “what apps would you like to install to start with with?” a header rather than regular text drives home the fact this is a pretty important page.

The options remain as they were: default install (minimal) and full installation, with “other options” listing auto-fetching of third-party drivers and media codecs:

Same options, but more engaging presentation

While the “type of installation” slide — which I still feel is a slightly understated explanation of this rather vital step — doesn’t get an eye-catching glyph but it does make better used of available space by being centred.

Similarly, the (dynamic) text explaining the current install situation and posing the question is more prominent and eye-catching and, for novices, is likely to be noticed far more readily than the tiny paragraph text the incumbent design opted for:

Do you want to erase everything without realising?

The rest of the slides that follow pretty much look like they do in the 23.10 installer, but the “set up your account” slide now appears before the timezone selection screen:

This page has been moved earlier

Beyond that, it’s as it was — for the moment at least.

But is there…

More to come?

Designs for more updated steps

As mentioned at the start, the plan is to bring new features to the Ubuntu installer front-end (leveraging ones already available in the backend). This will mean moving (where relevant) options currently configured before installation to the stage during the first boot after installation.

But those sort of changes (sadly) are not going to land in time this cycle.

So Ubuntu 24.04 LTS will retain the existing flow (though the personalisation slide has been removed and an accessibility one added). In 24.10 user creation will happen after the first-boot when what is effectively the second-half of the installer kicks.

Apparently user-creation will happen post-first-boot in Ubuntu 24.04 LTS OEM images, but as I don’t write a blog for OEMs… *flaps hands in whatever motion*.

Anyway, it’s early days for this effort but Canonical’s developers are bullish on the benefits their provisional new provisioning approach will offer. Anything that improve the installation experience is sure to be welcomed.

I just hope it results in seeing fewer of these… ?



Ubuntu 24.04 LTS