Ubuntu is making a server version of its Linux distribution. Up until now, the company has been best known for its easy-to-use desktop OS.

In a recent interview, Ubuntu server maintainer Fabio Massimo Di Nitto said that there was little reason not to make a server distro, simply because so many of the components would be common between it and the established desktop version.

"The first thing of note is that all Ubuntu-offered software comes from one repository. There are no desktop and server-specific repositories," he said. "For example, the desktop and server version share the installer. A point worthy of note is that all packages present on the Ubuntu server CD were already supported by us in previous Ubuntu versions (or almost all, if I remember correctly)."

Di Nitto said that users could make their own server from the desktop CD but the server version would concentrate on "adding features that we thing can be more useful for an administrator". He said that the technical goals for the system were are and optimised kernel that installs automatically while also being available for network installation, better selection of packages, and, probably most crucially, five years' support compared to three years for the desktop version.

Specifically, included will be monitoring tools from a number of hardware vendors such as HP, IBM, Sun and Dell, security features, uprated recovery tools, plus a number of specialised scripts for monitoring and performing tasks such as backup.

For the future, the Ubuntu site contains a wishlist that includes support for the Xen open source virtualisation tool, a centralised user management system, high availability features, network-wide system update management and log analysis tools.

Di Nitto said that he expected the server distro to be ready before the end of April, adding that the group's plans are open. He said that Ubuntu's strategy of releasing a new version every six months would be the same for the server version - which might be rather too often for many IT admins.

Ubuntu recently hit the headlines for its unwillingness to join Debian's DCC Alliance initiative - a plan to bring several Linux distributions together under a common core - because of the lack of flexibility that would ensue.