Ubuntu 8.0.4 Desktop packages are no longer supported by Canonical. The LTS release has finished its three year support cycle.
What does this mean for Crystalbuntu users?
At the moment, nothing. The latest version of XBMC 10.1 Dharma, as well as the new nightly builds can run on Hardy just fine (although XBMC devs no longer officially support this platform). 8.0.4 LTS is still the best compromise between freshness, stability, performance and driver support.
What about the lack of security updates?
Ubuntu 8.0.4 is still a secure system, behind a router which is using NAT. This is because ports are not by default exposed to the world, unless a DMZ is set. Therefore, your system will be behind a firewall, and so security updates are not the necessity they would be if you were running a web server in a production environment. Those concerned about security: have you changed the default username and password and generated a new SSH key? No? Then your system would never have been secure.
What next when 8.0.4 won’t run XBMC anymore? Why is there no 11.04 image?
8.0.4 will probably run XBMC for a while. There is no later version of Ubuntu used because the driver support in these later systems would cause a loss of functionality. The NVIDIA 7300 GO will not utilise HDMI audio out on driver versions that are compatible with later versions of Ubuntu, so this results in a loss of passthrough and downmixing over HDMI, requiring RCA or optical. Worst of all, newer versions of Ubuntu have a larger footprint, and will use more resources doing the same thing, so while XBMC can run fine on 8.0.4 using typically 90MB of RAM (that’s ~ 35%) or less at load, it will be the primary image. The difference between Ubuntu 8.0.4 and Arch 10.5 in performance is negligible.
So if HDMI sound doesn’t work, performance is worse on later versions of Ubuntu, will we ever be running it on our aTVs?
Probably. The Nouveau driver is an open-source driver for NVIDIA cards and is maintained well. It will become more mature over time (it is currently rather buggy right now), but that should improve. This would allow HDMI sound output. Performance can probably be increased by minimising the image’s packages.
I don’t care about HDMI sound, give me a more up to date image?
Sorry but at this stage in time — there’s no need to do so. HDMI sound is valuable to many users, and this image is intended for the masses. Therefore, I would recommend you setup Ubuntu on aTV yourself if you are so inclined to go for an up to date distribution.
Most likely the next image will be based on the 12.04 LTS release.