Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, will on Thursday begin making commercial applications available to Ubuntu users directly through the desktop, in a step designed to simplify software installation.
The company is making Parallels Workstation for Linux available to users via the operating system's built-in software update tool, using a feature called the Ubuntu Partner Repository. Parallels Workstation allows users to run multiple copies of Windows and Linux simultaneously on a single system.
The deal marks the first time Canonical has distributed commercial software through the repository, which has in the past only distributed free and open-source software.
Because of the inherent diversity in Linux distributions, software installation can be a serious stumbling block for inexperienced desktop users of the sort that Ubuntu is designed for.
Free and open-source software can be tailored for a particular distribution and made available for automatic installation from online repositories, such as Linspire's CNR.com, but commercial software is often left out of the loop.
To install Parallels Workstation, for instance, users previously needed to go through a command line-based installation process. Under the new arrangement, installation is a matter of selecting the software from a list, and takes under a minute, according to Canonical.
"This is the first piece of software we have made available this way, which may make it look a bit odd," a Canonical spokesman told ZDNet.co.uk. "But, very quickly, we will make more commercial software available in that repository, and make buying through the store an option for users that want commercial software running on Ubuntu."
The version of the software available through the Ubuntu Partner Repository is a trial version, a Canonical spokesman said; users can buy a permanent key via the online Canonical Store.
The deal also gives Parallels direct access to users of the most widely used desktop Linux distribution.
Parallels, formerly SWsoft, first became widely known for Parallels Desktop for Mac, which allows users to run Windows, Linux and OS X side by side on Intel-powered Macs. The company recently renamed itself after its best-known product.
Last month OpenVZ and Ubuntu developers released pre-built Ubuntu virtual machines designed to allow system administrators to deploy a specialised Ubuntu system in about a minute.
OpenVZ is an open-source project sponsored by Parallels, and forms the basis for the commercial virtualisation software Virtuozzo. Parallels and Canonical worked together on the virtualised templates, which are based on Ubuntu 7.10.