Trick or treat? Treat. Canonical's latest desktop and server editions of its popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, formerly code named Intrepid Ibex, will be available on October 30.
The key new feature on the Ubuntu 8.10 desktop -- 3G network support - enables pervasive connectivity. And the enhanced virtualization, systems management, and new Java support in the updated 8.10 server edition address the needs of the dynamic data center and cloud computing scenarios, company executives say. It is based on the Linux 2.6.27 Linux kernel.
In a telephone interview last week, Canonical director of corporate services Steve George said the Intrepid Ibex release hits it on all cylinders. "Increasingly organizations need their IT to be dynamic and flexible and we see changing requirements in the tech world. People need to be working around the clock on Internet time and they need their general purpose OS to be as flexible as possible and performing well, said George.
Adding 3G support to the network manager gives users another option for connecting to the Internet in places where public WiFi may be lacking, such as on a bus or train. Users, for instance, can connect to a 3G network using their inbuilt 3G modem, using a dongle, through a mobile phone or Bluetooth," he said.
The desktop also allows end users to write the Linux OS to and install it on a remote Windows desktop from a USB drive, thus enabling users to bring their desktop anywhere and plug it to any PC terminal. As an additional flexibility option, Ubuntu 8.10 now permits "guest sessions" while ensuring secure protection for the owner's data.
The Ubuntu 8.10 server edition, the third edition of the Linux server, incorporates the company's Just Enough Operating System and a Virtual Machine builder to allow developers and IT pros to script custom virtual images and enable dynamic provisioning for virtual environments. Ubuntu features updated KVM support for better memory management and due to support for the Linux 2.6.27 kernel Ubuntu can now also be run as a para-virualized guest on Xen.
"At the OS level, we're focusing on finding and developing flexible deployment methods, such as virtualization and cloud computing," he added. "We need to make sure we meet all developer and deployment methods."
He noted that Ubuntu is not going to compete against VMware or XenSource. Rather, the Linux distributor will continue to enhance its native KVM support and open up support for Xen and VMware hypervisors to give customers choice.
Developers may also like the new lightweight Java stack in Ubuntu 8.10, which includes Apache Tomcat 6.0 and OpenJDK. The current release supports the LAMP stack only, executives noted. "We did not have Java support before. There was no capability to do Java application serving before," George said.
Ubuntu 8.10 also features support for the GNOME 2.24 desktop, which offers a new IM client, a time tracker, enhanced Ekkiga video and audio conferencing tool and better support for multiple monitors. The recently released OpenOffice 3 did not make the cut for this Ubuntu release but will be included in the next Ubuntu release, known as 9.04, in six months, George said.
On the server side, Ubuntu 8.10 also features enhanced secure mail server capabilities via support for ClamAV and SpamAssassin. The server also features improved RAID support, a new Landscape client for basic system information and support for encrypted file directories.
The Long Term Support version of Ubuntu, Ubuntu 8.04, was released in April. Server version 8.10 will be supported for 18 months.
The client and server are free.