Downloading ISO images before they’re officially announced can be risky. What if the images are changed and the distribution ends up releasing an ISO which isn’t the same as the one you downloaded?
Ubuntu ISO images are hidden to make sure people don’t download them before they’re “officially” released. Of course if you really want them you can download them all the same, but at least they’re harder to find.
Linux Mint ISO images are not hidden at all. Once they pass QA they start getting synced all over the World and downloading them is as easy as browsing the mirrors… that doesn’t mean you should go ahead and get them early without waiting for the official release though. In fact, you should be patient and NOT download them, for the following reasons:
- The ISO you’re downloading might change before the release, which means you’ve downloaded the wrong ISO.
- The release notes are usually written just before a release, which means you’ve no documentation to look at to know what the new features are, what is important to know and which workarounds you can use in case you run into an issue we’ve already identified.
In other words.. when you download an ISO prior to its official release… you’re on your own :)
Surprisingly, the reason we don’t hide them, is because leaking them helps us as well. Our QA testing is strict but like everything it’s empirical… we keep getting better by making mistakes. The reason we have an RC prior to every single stable release is because people ALWAYS find bugs we don’t find during QA. You can’t beat public testing. Now and then though, one of these bugs is deemed to be a critical one… and when we’re lucky enough to hear about it from people who downloaded the ISO before it was released, we still have time to delay the release and include the bug fix within an updated ISO image.
This is what happened today.
Although they didn’t use it, both 64-bit ISOs (MATE and Cinnamon) contained a kernel signed by Canonical. Other than the practical issues associated with signed Free Software (i.e. calling something Free implies you can modify it… modifying something that needs to be signed isn’t much use when you can’t resign it…) the signed kernel simply doesn’t work with Linux Mint. The Update Manager treats it as a level 5 upgrade, but if you perform an “apt-get dist-upgrade”, the new signed kernel updates your grub configuration and at the next reboot you’re looking at a kernel panic :)
So for this reason, we removed the signed kernels and updated both ISOs.
If you already downloaded them, do a “dpkg -l | grep linux-signed” and “apt remove –purge” anything that comes up :)
This of course will likely delay the RC release by another day, but heh, quality comes first, even for an RC.
Many thanks to Ilan, who made the mistake to download too early but without whom this critical issue would have made it into a public release.
The current MD5 signatures for the 64-bit ISOs are respectively 48ecdc03eaa6c497fa8bab3f937c4364 and 634f6476a6a62bdbc2d997bb196ea78a for the Cinnamon and MATE editions. Don’t be in a hurry to download them though, if we find another critical issue prior to the RC announcements we’ll consider delaying and updating them again.