The Ubuntu Linux project hopes to release a groundbreaking product later this year, which will potentially include support for virtualisation and some mixed 32- and 64-bit architectures.
The next version of Ubuntu — Dapper Drake — is due for release on June 1, six weeks later than originally planned. The project will recommend this release for people who need "super-solid and super-predictable results", but the subsequent release — Edgy Eft — will be "cutting edge, perhaps bleeding edge" with "brand new code and infrastructure", Ubuntu's founder, Mark Shuttleworth said on Wednesday.
"An Eft is a youthful newt, going through its first exploration of the rocky territory just outside the stream. And that's exactly what we hope the development team will do with Ubuntu during the Edgy cycle — explore slightly unfamiliar and uncharted territory that is perhaps a little out of the mainstream," said Shuttleworth in an email to the project.
Edgy Eft is scheduled for release around October 2006 and may include features such as the Smart Package Manager, which claims to make it easier to install and upgrade software, and support for XGL graphics software.
"So dream a little about Xen for virtualisation, Xgl/AIGLX and other wonderful wobbly window bits, the goodness of Network Manager, a first flirt with multiarch [multiple architecture] support for true mixed 32-bit and 64-bit computing on AMD64, the interesting possibilities of the SMART package manager... and other pieces of infrastructure which have appeared tantalisingly on the horizon," said Shuttleworth in the email.
But Shuttleworth said he will not be deciding what features will be in the release — instead it is up to the community to decide.
"I'm promising to impose (almost ;-) ) zero from-the-top requirements for Edgy, this release is entirely up to the development team to envision and implement," he said. "Almost everything that lands in Edgy will be driven from the development team, who get to play with whatever new technologies they fancy along the way. So that should give us a nice big bump in infrastructure and bling."
Although the Ubuntu distribution is less than two years old, it has risen in popularity among the Linux community and has won a number of awards from technology magazines and conferences, including a ZDNet Editor's choice award, and an accolade as the best Linux distribution for small business.