Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

Summary: As Ubuntu 11.10's release date approaches, it becomes ever clearer that Canonical plans on taking this popular Linux distribution to the cloud.


The first Ubuntu circle of friends logo.

The first Ubuntu circle of friends logo.

Last week, Ubuntu Linux's parent company Canonical CEO Jane Silber announced at the OpenStack cloud software conference that HP has chosen Ubuntu as the lead host and guest operating system for its Public Cloud. That's impressive. It's Canonical's biggest enterprise win to date, but that's only a hint of what Canonical is up to with the cloud.

Canonical started its move to OpenStack from Eucalyptus in February. While Canonical has promised its not going to leave its Eucalyptus users without support, the company is clearly pinning all its cloud plans going forward around OpenStack.

To be exact, according the company, "Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure now includes OpenStack as the core infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) element of Ubuntu Cloud. Canonical's investment in lightweight container technology LXC alongside the well-known KVM and Xen virtualization technologies, has resulted in a tightly integrated cloud infrastructure solution that works across all hardware platforms. That means any business can deploy Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure on their preferred server platform today."

HP and Canonical are now working together in HP's private cloud beta to make certain that it will work well. Since Ubuntu is the reference OS for OpenStack and this is a major play by HP a lot depends on Canonical getting this right.

This isn't just about some business cloud play though. I talked with Mark Baker, Canonical's server product manager, and he kept telling me about how Ubuntu plans on making it easy for companies to deploy to Ubuntu-based clouds with Juju.

Juju you ask? Juju, formerly Ensemble, lets you easily start-up and manage application services on the cloud. According to Canonical, "Juju is a next generation service deployment and orchestration framework. It has been likened to APT for the cloud. With juju, different authors are able to create service charms independently, and make those services coordinate their communication through a simple protocol. Users can then take the product of different authors and very comfortably deploy those services in an environment. The result is multiple machines and components transparently collaborating towards providing the requested service."

So say you want to launch a blogging site on the Web. With Juju you invoke the charms for say WordPress, MySQL and a Web server and, ta-da, you have a blogging site. Need more DBMS power or more Web servers just add as required with Juju. Don't need them anymore, take them down. No fuss. No muss.

Juju was a technology preview in Ubuntu 11.04, but it's real in Ubuntu 11.10. The cloud behind it though isn't just for servers. No, in Ubuntu's new world view, the desktop is part of the cloud.

Gerry Carr, Canonical's marketing manager, told me that the Ubuntu 11.10 desktop is a step from a PC being simply a piece of hardware on your desk. Eventually, it will equally be a gateway to the power of the cloud. "We're moving away form concept of local PC to one where the local PC and cloud will be equally important."

Canonical is already working on this. For example, Ubuntu One, Canonical's combination cloud storage and music streaming service, is now available not just for Ubuntu users on Ubuntu but on Android, iOS and, get ready for it, Windows as well.

So, what's a nice Linux desktop feature doing on Windows? According to Carr, it's because Canonical "doesn't want to restrict you to the Ubuntu desktop. We're moving away from the concept of the local PC to the cloud. On the cloud, content is king and we must liberate content across multiple devices."

In short, sure Canonical wants you to run an Ubuntu desktop, but they also know you can't always do that, and what's more important is that you have access to your data, your music, whatever, no matter what you're running locally. And, the best way to do that, according to Canonical, will be from Ubuntu-powered clouds.

Related Stories:

Ubuntu: The desktop Linux with the cloud inside

Ubuntu Linux gets serious about business partners

Mainframe Ubuntu Linux?

HP launches cloud services private beta

Canonical switches to OpenStack for Ubuntu Linux cloud

Topics: Linux, Cloud, Hardware, Open Source, Operating Systems, Servers, Software

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  • Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: +1

    Go Ubuntu (waves Flag)
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

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    • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz I'm really excited about 11.10 ^^ It'll breathe new life into my old laptop. Do you like Unity?
      • Unity is a regression

        I use Xubuntu 11.10 and it weighs in at 150MB when I reach the Desktop.

        You can install the Xubuntu Desktop with:

        $sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

        Then logout and type your user login id, then select from the status line session Xubuntu (which runs Xfce).
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • Unity is....OK I guess

        @Imrhien ...but I kinda like Linux Mint Debian, a continuously updated (bleeding edge) distro. I use the Gnome 3 and XFCE desktops.
  • Proud

    This is the type of innovation that will ensure that Ubuntu continues to be the greatest of the Linux distributions.

    More importantly, though, they're doing something spectacular for open source. It is obvious that Canonical wants more users, but they are making their services capable of being used by almost everyone who can get online.

    I imagine they might even get an OSX version sometime.
    Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

    Go Linux go...
  • Goodbye, Ubuntu.

    It was fun while it lasted. I'm probably going to migrate to Debian after they drop support for 10.04 LTS. I value stability and backwards compatibility more than cosmetic changes and having to frequently re-learn user interfaces.
    Tony R.
    • Ditto

      @Tony R.

      I'm evaluating LMDE now. The "rolling release" feature is not looking as smooth as I'd like, but even the two year cycle of Ubuntu LTS is too fast.

      The promised LTS five year support is bogus as they never upgrade the libraries so you quickly end up with obsolete versions of things like gstreamer.
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

      @Tony R. totally aggreed, Ubuntu was a fun experience, sampling the freshest bugs and screwing up my computer. but i get tired of them very quickly, and moved to Debian. Stability is above all.
      Btw i noticed that Debian users (me included) like to bash Ubuntu.
      • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

        @qjqqyy I like that comment: "savoring the freshest bugs, screwing up the computer" LOL. I can only laugh now, cause of all the tears I have shed in the past!!!
      • Phooey on cute buttons

        @qjqqyy Just gimme a driver for my webcam. Oh, and my TV dongle.
  • Go Ubuntu

    Looking forward to Ubuntu 11.10, very soon.
  • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

    Will be great for business, but for me, (using Ubuntu for 4 years & loved it) I will leave Ubuntu. Unity sucks! Played with win 8 and so far it sucks. Guess I'll try Debian. Sure not going back to Apple!
  • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

    I have been using a Google chromebook since last December, and I remain puzzled by Google's insistence on throwing almost everything except the Linux kernel and re-inventing everything, rather than building on a rich foundation such as that offered by Ubuntu, so I wish Canonical well with their cloud computing effort, and hope that association with HP is not the kiss of death.

    I've been watching Ubuntu post-10.4 , and so far, I 've seen nothing that makes me want to abandon a system that is, for me, stable, lightweight, and fast. Re Dietrich Schmitz' comment on Xubuntu, running default Ubuntu 10.04, 141 mb of RAM is in use when I reach the desktop.

    Like many others, LMDE is my "alternate" Linux distro, just in case Ubuntu moves in a direction that I don't like.
  • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds

    Very surprised about this. Big step away from RHEL for HP!

    I HATE Unity, I HATE Gnome 3. Am using Mint on several clients with Gnome 2, Ubuntu 11.04 with XFCE on a few others, and always have one running KDE.
    • RE: Ubuntu Linux heads to the clouds


      I tend to agree. I think Ubuntu 10.x and Gnome 2.x may have been the golden age of choice and control... that we will be nostalgic about in the future. Especially, now that Microsoft, Apple, and even Ubuntu, all seem to think we should all run smart-phones (locked-down terminals) using pay-as-you-go SaaS, for our IT-needs.

      I however, do not wish, nor plan, to adopt this horrible new "paradigm" ("horrible" in my-own opinion... and frankly in the plainly-stated position of most of the consumers, AND IT-people that I know).

      I like the "personal", stand-alone, computer (desktop)... what it represents... what it gives me... and, what we'll be losing, if we go back to the centralized, externally controlled, dumb-terminal, era of computing's past.