Canonical has placed large emphasis on Ubuntu's LVM compatibility, but also is touted to work admirably on Xen, Citrix XenServer and VMware, and is said to be newly optimized for Microsoft's Hyper-V. The optimization for working with hypervisors generally means special, para-virtualized device drivers enabled between a virtualized operating system instance and the hypervisor -- which sits logically between the OS instance and the bare metal that's being virtualized. Tests performed on an HP ProLiant DL580 16-core server showed that Ubuntu performance with SPECjbb was essentially the same, with or without Microsoft's Hyper-V 2.1 hypervisor, so the optimizations were judged very good.
Ubuntu 12.04 features many iterative improvements. Canonical is sticking with Unity as its UI, but we've seen Linux Mint and others "improving" Ubuntu editions for comparative "old school" Ubuntu users. The issue is rapidly becoming moot as Canonical assuages even hardcore Gnome and KDE users. And like Microsoft and Apple, the UI "branding" becomes important across targeted devices.
But we liked the server updates even more, and if you enjoy cloud, Ubuntu is the one to beat. This fact is likely to become even stronger as Ubuntu has made replicating and installing Ubuntu easier still, this allowing rapid "why not?" questions to be easily answered.
Tom Henderson is principal researcher for ExtremeLabs, of Bloomington Ind. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.