The next version of Canonical's Ubuntu Server, version 11.04, due out 28 April, will set the stage for the open-source operating system's greater usage in the enterprise cloud, company officials said.
"People running private clouds will start really scaling those over the next several years. So what we care about is the ability to expand as customers deploy more and more servers into the cloud," said Steve George, Canonical's vice-president of business development.
"On the server side, a lot of our focus has been on getting [into the OS] as many of the new cloud features and capabilities as we can, which then we'll stabilise and polish on our way to the next LTS release," George added.
Canonical develops LTS [long-term support] server releases for organisations that need ultra-stable and highly supported versions of the OS. The company supports these versions for five years, in contrast to the typical two-year support cycle of most server releases, including this one. The next LTS release, 12.04, is due in April 2012.
The version to be released next week, which was code-named Natty Narwhal during development, updates a number of packages essential for cloud deployments, George said.
This release includes version 2.0.2 of the Eucalyptus cloud software, upgraded from version 1.7 that was used with the last release. The release also includes expanded support for libvirt - a collection of software for managing virtual machines - and KVM (Kernel-based Virtualisation), which is Canonical's default virtualisation platform.
Canonical also plans to post a version of this server software on Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Cloud Compute) that has been customised for HPC (high-performance computing) duties, which tend to be used by scientific researchers. "We have a lot of Ubuntu users doing this kind of work, so this should be a better starting point," George said.
The new Ubuntu Server software, formerly named Ubuntu Server Edition, will come with version 2.6.28 of the Linux kernel, released in March. Other updated packages include Python 2.7, version 4.5 of the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) and version 0.9 of the Upstart automated task launcher. This version will also be the first to include Cobbler, new network installation software for the OS.
In addition to the server version, Canonical will also release the desktop version of Ubuntu on 28 April as well. This release will be first to feature the controversial Unity desktop. Unlike the desktop edition of Ubuntu, the Ubuntu Server contains no graphical user interface in the default installation.
For existing users of the server edition, the OS can be upgraded from the command line, using the identical steps required to install the beta version of the software now available.