Moving to the Next Ubuntu Release
So your system is up to date and current, but Ubuntu doesn't like to let the grass grow. One of the original goals for Ubuntu was to have frequent releases, and with only one notable exception (the 6.06 LTS release, which was delayed by two months), there have been six months between each release since 4.10. This book has been revised for the latest version—11.04—but another release will be along soon. Release 10.04, like the earlier 8.04 and 6.06, was a Long Term Support (LTS) version of Ubuntu, supported for three years on the desktop and five on the server. All other versions, such as 11.04, are supported for eighteen months and at the same time are superseded by a new version every six months. Essentially, if you are running the LTS version, you might not be too interested in moving to the latest and greatest until the next LTS version comes out, but if you are running a regular release version, you might be the sort of person who is more interested in the latest and greatest software updates. In either case, this is how you perform the upgrade.
Doing the Actual Upgrade
A graphical tool called Update Manager, found in the Applications menu, tells you when a new version of Ubuntu is available and walks you through the upgrade process. Note that if you already know or want to learn the manual method, that is fine too. Both means will achieve the same result.
When a new release is available, Update Manager will alert you, as in Figure 3-23. All you need to do is click on the Upgrade button to start the process. You will first be shown the release notes, which mention new features or any outstanding bugs. After you click on the Upgrade button on this screen, the necessary changes to your software repositories are made, and then the program downloads and installs the new distribution. You may be prompted if you have changed any configuration files. After the actual installation is complete, you will be told which, if any, packages are no longer officially supported by Ubuntu (have moved to the universe repository). Last, all you need to do is restart your computer when prompted, and you will begin enjoying the new release.
Figure 3-23 Upgrading from Ubuntu 10.10 using Update Manager and an Internet connection
You can also initiate an upgrade simply by inserting a CD that contains a newer version of Ubuntu than the one you are currently running, as shown in Figure 3-24. Follow the prompts for an upgrade experience similar to using the update manager.
Figure 3-24 Upgrading from Ubuntu 10.10 using a 11.04 CD