The alternate installer, required when users want to configure cryptsetup, Logical Volume Manager (LVM) or software-based RAID arrays during installation, may disappear from Ubuntu as early as version 12.10. The idea is mooted in a proposal put forward by Steve Langasek, Engineering Manager at Canonical’s Ubuntu Foundation.
According to Langasek, dropping the alternate installer image would represent a step towards reducing the number of Ubuntu installation images. The guided partitioner in ubiquity – the installer from the desktop live images – now contains extensions to set up cryptsetup for encrypting whole disks and to manage disks using logical volume manager. Both functions should, according to Langasek, also be available with manual partitioning soon. The changes are planned for Ubuntu 12.10, which is currently under development and due to be released in October.
The ability to set up software-based RAID arrays using mdadm will not, however, be finished in time and ubiquity is unlikely to support this before Ubuntu 13.04. Langasek nevertheless proposes dropping the alternate installer in 12.10. Users who want to use RAID can continue to use Ubuntu 12.04 or, alternatively, install 12.10 as normal, set up a software-based RAID array manually and migrate their data to it. The decision will only affect Ubuntu proper – Ubuntu variants such as Kubuntu will continue to offer the option of creating images using the alternate installer, which will continue to use a Debian installer-based installation program.