But when I look at Mark Shuttleworth's own memo announcing the feature freeze, another word jumps out at me. (This cute little guy lives at Aditya Kavoor's blog. Hope he got through the fires OK.)
That word is alliances.
In terms of cloud computing the new Ubuntu koala is cuddly with Amazon's cloud, as Mark Asay notes. Whether that makes things more open or closed, the fact is Amazon's EC2 cloud is currently dominating the space.
It's open for business, it's ready for your apps, today. It's not like Google's cloud, devoted solely to Google applications, and it's not like Microsoft's cloud, devoted to Windows, and it's not like IBM's clouds, custom-built like a new global subdivision.
Amazon's cloud is a service businesses use to host serious applications, many of which make money. Standing at the side of such a cloud vendor is good business.
As to the desktop, Shuttleworth specifically cites one Netbook vendor, Dell, in his note. This is mainly for the sake of a pun, but the fact remains that Dell has a full line of Ubuntu Netbooks and laptops.
While HP supports a wide variety of distros, and its true support for desktop Linux is open to question, Dell's support for Ubuntu seems solid. It appears Dell has become a reliable Ubuntu ally.
This is important. Few Linux vendors want to dance the corporate dance. Yet corporations insist on it, and such technology alliances give buyers comfort.
Ubuntu has managed alliances with two companies which make money doing what they do. Amazon makes money in cloud computing, Dell is still profitable.
At the bottom of a recession those are the kinds of friends you want to have, and Ubuntu has them. Now if it can extract money from those relationships it's set.