The latest version of Ubuntu, the free Linux distribution based on Debian, includes a fully customisable Live CD and an automated installation tool.
Although the first public release of Ubuntu was only six months ago, it's already seen by some as a good alternative to Debian on the desktop. Debian developer Michael Meskes said at CeBIT last month that regular releases are important to allow support for the latest desktop technologies.
"Due to Debian's slow release cycle it can be harder to use on the desktop as it may not offer support for technologies such as new graphic cards," said Meskes."Ubuntu has the newest software, is managed by a professional team and has agreed that it will always be completely free software."
New versions of Ubuntu are released every six months, while Debian's last release was almost three years ago.
Ubuntu 5.04, which was released last week, includes a Live CD with a new infrastructure that makes it easier to customise. Live CD's can be useful as they allow people to try Linux and make sure it is compatible with their hardware without needing to install the operating system.
The latest release allows custom versions of the Ubuntu Live CD to be created without needing to build a CD from scratch. This will allow developers to create native language Live CDs, or add extra applications that are not available as default. Instructions on how to customise the Live CD are available on the Ubuntu Web site.
Another important feature in the 5.04 release is the addition of an automated installation tool, similar to Red Hat Kickstart. This allows a system administrator to install the same set-up of Ubuntu on multiple machines.
Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, told ZDNet UK on Monday that the next release will include a version tailored for the thin client environment. This will allow the Linux distribution to be used on low specification PCs that don't have a hard drive.