The Ubuntu project has detailed plans for the April 2009 version of its Linux distribution, continuing its habit of naming its software after animals by dubbing Ubuntu 9.04 "The Jaunty Jackalope."
The news comes as the project last week made available an advance testing version of its Linux distribution, Ubuntu 8.10, the "Intrepid Ibex," which is scheduled for release in late October.
"As we approach the launch of Ubuntu 8.10, it's time to create space for future plans... [Jaunty] will be the focus of our efforts from November through to April next year," wrote the project's founder and patron Mark Shuttleworth in an email to developers this morning.
Shuttleworth said Ubuntu 9.04 would focus on improving boot time and blurring the line between desktop applications and the incoming wave of web-based software.
"The Jackalope is known for being so fast that it's extremely hard to catch, and breeds only when lightning flashes," wrote Shuttleworth. "Let's see if we can make booting or resuming Ubuntu blindingly quick." Operating system rival Microsoft has also recently stated it wanted to make boot times one of its priorities for its incoming Windows 7 operating system, which has not yet been formally named.
On web application integration, Shuttleworth wrote: "Is it a deer? Is it a bunny? Or is it a weblication: a desktop application that seamlessly integrates the web? This hare has legs, and horns, and we'll be exploring it in much more detail for Jaunty."
The 9.04 release will also see Ubuntu's entire code repository moved into the project's Bazaar version control system, to make it easier for developers to work with the software. "For the first time, any developer will be able to branch any Ubuntu package with a single bzr command, publish their changes, and perhaps even publish builds of that package in their own package archive," wrote Shuttleworth.
Shuttleworth said the project would be planning the 9.04 release in much more detail at its Ubuntu Developer Summit, to be held in Google's Mountain View campus from 8-12 December this year.
Shuttleworth said 2009 would see Ubuntu compete strongly with its commercial rivals. "The warrior rabbit is our talisman as we move into a year where we can reasonably expect Ubuntu to ship on several million devices, to consumers who can reasonably expect the software experience to be comparable to those of the traditional big [software vendors]: Microsoft and Apple," he wrote.
"The bar is set very high, and we have been given the opportunity to leap over it. It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance to shine, and we want to make sure that the very best thinking across the whole open-source ecosystem is reflected in Ubuntu, because many people will judge free software as a whole by what we do."