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Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server Edition promises broad vendor support
When Ubuntu 10.04 Long Term Support Server Edition hits next week it will include"fully baked" versions of recently released features along with a cloud computing edition and the promise of broader ecosystem support.

With this release Ubuntu can boast of more third-party ISV support for the operating system — with 20 major packages added or updated since the Ubuntu 8.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release in 2008, and more providers will certify their applications on Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition than ever before.

Canonical releases updates every six months, and the LTS every two years, which includes free security and maintenance for five years. The new LTS version will be available for free download on April 29. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Desktop Edition will also be available on that date.

Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition also includes Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), an open source cloud computing environment based on software from Eucalyptus Systems, which was first introduced in version 9.10 in October. UEC provides an infrastructure for on-premise (private) or public cloud computing environments using the same application programming interfaces (APIs) as Amazon EC2.

Frank Basanta, an IT director for the systems integration firm Systems Solutions in New York, said he has a number of customers interested in cloud computing, so his firm has played around with UEC."Ubuntu is headed in the right direction with this," he said.

According to Canonical, there are about 12,000 Ubuntu Server OS deployments in the cloud and about 200 are added every day. These users range from businesses and developers to "a couple of college students tinkering around in their garage," a Canonical rep said.

Linux is the favored OS in most cloud deployments, so Ubuntu has a shot in this market, especially since many Linux proponents say it is easier to use than other open source OSes and it is free. (Ubuntu support costs $750 to $1,200 per server, depending on the level of coverage.)

Ubuntu – and other major Linux-based operating systems – have gained popularity for cloud environments and in general because of the cost savings and stability these OSes provide, Basanta said.

"If I'm in IT, and I have a specific budget and a small staff, I don't have time for a lot of hand holding. Linux [distributions are] good in those situations," Basanta said. "I have a number of customers with mixed environments – Windows, Linux, and Unix – and they use Linux because it just runs."

IDC analyst Al Gillen said Ubuntu Server is one of the Linux distributions that is actually gaining market share. In 2009, Ubuntu Server had 4.5 % of paid subscriptions, and counting unpaid use, about 5% market share. It is a small number compared to the market leader, Red Hat, which has about 48% of the global Linux market.

"The market has been Red Hat, Novell and everyone else, and Canonical is in that 'everybody else' bucket, but it is moving in such a way in that they are differentiating themselves as a third major Linux distribution," Gillen said.

Basanta said Ubuntu has helped its cause by gaining certifications from more hardware and application vendors.

Ubuntu 10.04 ecosystem support includes Alfresco, Ingres, IBM, VMware, Zimbra, and Yahoo. Dell will also support Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server Edition and will offer Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud as an option on their PowerEdge-C products.

"Ubuntu has to get those certifications on a range of servers – from 1U and blades to big iron - to be a real player, and we are seeing them be aggressive about that now," Basanta said. "They still don't have the level of certifications that Red Hat or SUSE have, but they are getting there."

Improvements to Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition
This LTS includes security and stability improvements including AppArmor security by default on certain packages, kernel hardening (memory protection, module loading blocking, address space layout randomization); Firewalls extended to all common services and encrypted home and private directories.

Ubuntu developers also improved virtualization with KVM for simple deployment and management. KVM now supports KSM memory aggregation, live migration of virtual machines, and automated and fast image creations with VMBuilder. Ubuntu as Virtual Machine is supported for VMWare, Xen, KVM, Virtualbox, EC2 and UEC.

Packages updated or added since 8.04 LTS include CouchDB; Puppet; Django 1.1; MySQL 5.1; Samba 3.4; KVM 1.8; Python 2.6; Nagios 3 and more.

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server Edition and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud will be available for free download from Canonical's website on April 29. Users can upgrade from versions 8.04 LTS version and the 9.10 release from October 2009.

In other Linux news, Linux leader Red Hat released Red Hat Enterprise Linux Beta 6 on April 21.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 was released in 2007, and that version received its fifth update with new features and hardware support last month. RHEL 5 will continue to be supported by Red Hat, ISVs and OEM partners until 2014.

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