Shuttleworth: Karmic Koala to make cloud 'dance'

The upcoming version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution will have a new look, along with functionality to let users deploy their own clouds and cloud-based services
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Extensive cloud-computing functionality will be built into Karmic Koala, the next version but one of Ubuntu, sponsor company Canonical has announced.

Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth introduced Karmic Koala on Friday, in a post on the Ubuntu site. That release of the Linux distribution, due in October, will follow the Jaunty Jackalope version that is expected in April.

Cloud computing lets companies set up their web-based services on third-party infrastructure, making those services available anywhere, while taking the processing load off client machines. A recent Evans Data survey suggested that 40 percent of open-source developers intend to write their applications for the cloud, partly due to lower infrastructural requirements and partly due to the greater computational capabilities associated with cloud computing.

The Ubuntu cloud strategy is, for now, based on the use of the application programming interfaces (APIs) for Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) platform.

A tool called 'Ubuntu-vmbuilder' already makes it possible to create a custom Amazon Machine Image (AMI) — the image that is uploaded onto Amazon's platform in order to set up a virtual machine — but, according to Shuttleworth, "a portfolio of standard image profiles will allow easier collaboration between people doing similar things on EC2".

Karmic will also include functionality for building "EC2-style" clouds on companies' own hardware. While Jaunty will include work from a University of California-based project called Eucalyptus, which makes it possible for users to set up their own clouds, Karmic will have added functionality to make it easier to deploy applications into that virtualised infrastructure and, in Shuttleworth's words, "make those clouds dance, with dynamically growing and shrinking resource allocations depending on your needs".

"Imagine if we could make it possible to build a cloud-computing facility that drops its energy use virtually to zero by napping in the midday heat, and waking up when there's work to be done. No need to drink at the energy fountain when there's nothing going on," Shuttleworth wrote. "If that sounds rather open and nebulous, then we've hit the sweet spot for cloud-computing futurology."

The desktop version of Karmic Koala will also see visual and speed improvements in terms of startup, Shuttleworth wrote. Canonical is considering graphical boot options such as Red Hat's Plymouth, and planning a new login procedure that works for small groups as well as large installations.

The overall look of the distribution is also likely to be refreshed. "Brown has served us well but the Koala is considering other options," Shuttleworth noted.

According to Shuttleworth, the startup time for a Jaunty installation on a netbook will be 25 seconds, with Koala hopefully proving faster. The Ubuntu Netbook Remix is also being updated with technology from the Intel-led netbook Linux project Moblin, Shuttleworth said.

Further details on the features and interface of Karmic Koala will be revealed at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Barcelona in May.

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