February 23, 2009, 12:20 PM — Support for cloud computing will be a major feature of the October release of Ubuntu, the Linux distribution maintained by Canonical, company CEO Mark Shuttleworth announced in an e-mail to the Ubuntu developers mailing list on Friday.
The server version of Ubuntu 9.10, nicknamed "Karmic Koala," will include support for EC2, the cloud computing service run by Amazon Web Services, and a portfolio of standard Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) to make it easier for applications running in the cloud to collaborate with one another by using similar configurations, Shuttleworth wrote.
Amazon's EC2 also supports Windows Server 2003, OpenSolaris and a number of other Linux distributions, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Oracle Enterprise Linux.
Microsoft plans its own hosted cloud computing service, Azure, set to open for business later this year. Ubuntu, though, could make the market much tougher for Microsoft by helping other competitors to spring up, or letting businesses do it themselves.
Beyond support for Amazon's EC2, Kosmic Koala will incorporate Eucalyptus, an open-source tool allowing enterprises to create EC2-style computing clouds in their own data centers. It will also offer better management of data center energy consumption, allowing server instances to sleep when there is no work to be done, and to quickly resume when workload increases, dynamically changing resource installations according to need, Shuttleworth wrote.
Canonical releases two updates to Ubuntu each year, in April and October, each with alliterative animal nicknames. Version 8.10, "Intrepid Ibex," released in October 2008, focused on simplifying the configuration of Internet connections and improving the user interface, especially for netbooks. The goal for "Jaunty Jackalope," scheduled for release in April as Ubuntu 9.04, is to shorten boot times, to 25 seconds on a netbook, and blur the line between desktop and web-hosted applications.
Koala will also feature desktop innovations: Shuttleworth wants to make it boot even faster than Jaunty on a netbook, and to make the boot and log-in screens more attractive. There will also be a new Netbook Edition of Ubuntu, designed to install on a greater variety of hardware and with the graphical user interface tuned for small screens, he said.
Before the coding begins in earnest, developers will be able to contribute to the software's design at the next Ubuntu Developer Summit, in Barcelona, May 25 to May 29.