Canonical, sponsors of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, issued the release candidate for the Karmic Koala version on Thursday.
Karmic Koala, or Ubuntu 9.10, is the first version of the operating system to have cloud-computing functionality for both enterprises and consumers built in. It also uses the new Linux kernel, a new filesystem and a new desktop environment.
The release comes only a week before the scheduled arrival of the final version of Ubuntu 9.10 on 29 October. Its predecessor, Jaunty Jackalope (Ubuntu 9.04), was released in April.
Karmic Koala's cloud-centricity was annouced by Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth in February. While Ubuntu 9.04 already lets enterprise users build their own on-premise clouds that could connect to Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) public clouds using Amazon's application programming interfaces (APIs), 9.10 lets them deploy applications into those clouds and dynamically manage resource allocation.
Karmic Koala also ships by default with Ubuntu One, a 2GB personal cloud — more space is available on subscription — that lets the user back up, store, synchronise and share data with other users.
The new version of Ubuntu uses version 2.6.31 of the Linux kernel. According to Canonical, new Intel video driver architecture in the kernel solves performance problems that were evident in Jaunty Jackalope.
Ubunto 9.10 moves to the Gnome 2.28 desktop environment. One of the major changes that comes with this shift is the replacement of the familiar Pidgin instant messaging client with Empathy — based on the Telepathy communications framework — which supports text, voice and video chat, as well as file transfers over a variety of protocols.
The ext3 filesystem has been replaced by ext4, which supports larger volume sizes and more subdirectories than its predecessor. The Grub boot loader has also been superseded by Grub 2.
The next version of Ubuntu Linux, Lucid Lynx (Ubuntu 10.04), is scheduled for release in April 2010 and will be the first long-term support (LTS) version of Ubuntu since Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04) in April 2008.