The next version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, code-named Jaunty Jackalope, went into its beta phase late on Thursday.
Ubuntu 9.04, as it is more properly known, includes a range of enhancements over its predecessor, Intrepid Ibex, or Ubuntu 8.10. These include a new notifications system, improvements to the start-up process, and the distribution's first foray into cloud computing.
The new version of the operating system also includes updates to the Gnome interface (now version 2.26, which comes with the Brasero all-in-one CD-burning application and offers improved handling of multiple monitors), the Linux kernel (now version 2.6.28) and the X.Org server (now version 1.6). The ext4 file system is now also supported.
Ubuntu is set to make a major move into cloud computing with its next version but one, Karmic Koala, but the server version of Jackalope takes a step towards this with its technology preview of the Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems (Eucalyptus).
Eucalyptus is an open-source software infrastructure for the deployment of applications into the cloud. Its interface is compatible with the application programming interface (API) for Amazon's EC2 cloud-computing service, and its inclusion in Jackalope means users of the distribution can deploy and test their own private clouds that match the EC2 API.
According to the feature webpage for Jackalope's beta, users will be able to "dynamically create virtual machines, configure multiple clusters into a single cloud and even provide an EBS (elastic block storage) equivalent and an [Amazon] S3 compatible storage manager".
There are several known issues with the beta — these are listed on the Jackalope page — and Canonical, the company behind the distribution, is inviting users to test the release ahead of 23 April, when the final incarnation of Jaunty Jackalope is due.