Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, announced on July 22 at the Ubuntu Live conference in Portland, Ore., the availability of Landscape, its Web-based systems management program for Ubuntu servers and desktops.
Landscape will be available to Canonical’s support subscribers. Landscape provides a key tool for the growing number of businesses that want to take advantage of the ease of use of Ubuntu and have previously seen system administration or support as a hurdle. This is Canonical’s first native Ubuntu system deployment and management tool.
The new Landscape program is delivered as an Internet service rather than as a product. It has more in common with Red Hat’s Red Hat Network than Novell’s ZENworks.
With Landscape, users can manage, monitor and maintain all of their Ubuntu machines simply by registering them with the service. Focused on being easy to deploy, Landscape is immediately available with an easy-to-use Web interface to common administration tasks.
Landscape’s features start with package management. With this, administrators can remotely manage a system. It allows managers to quickly find installed packages, view information about them and add or remove them.
The services also include a way to easily deploy system updates to both Ubuntu desktops and servers. This enables network managers to quickly install security and feature updates as they become available.
An administrator can also use Landscape to manage users. The service enables a network manager to add, edit or remove users from individual or multiple computers.
With Landscape, administrators can also manage multiple machines within a group. This can be used with fine control so that a manager can work on either a single system or all of the machines within the group. Groups can be set up quickly and be made up of servers or desktops by either their location or their function.
You don’t have to have 24-hour Internet connectivity to make the most of Landscape. Administrators can safely and securely manage systems that are infrequently connected to the Internet. Landscape queues tasks for disconnected and remote desktops, laptops or servers. When they come on-line, Landscape automatically carries out the queued instructions.
The program will run hardware system inventories: Besides reporting on individual computer’s hardware at the component level, it also reports on some operating system elements such as the version of the currently running kernel.
Landscape will also let administrators log system performance so one can compare past and present performance. It also enables managers to compare the performance of multiple systems on such factors as system load and disk usage.
The program also lets administrators keep notes on each system. In addition, you can assign computers “tags”–all Web servers, all remote desktops, for example–for easier management.
Finally, with Landscape, administrators can audit the actions on their systems improving security. Landscape also provides information on the tasks it’s scheduled to perform in the future. It also keeps historical logs, which show actions it performed and those done locally on a given machine, for maintenance audits.
“For our support customers this is a huge value-add,” said Steve George, Canonical’s director of support and services in a statement. “Landscape is an enterprise-ready systems management tool that is as easy to use as everything else built with the Ubuntu philosophy. Any business deploying Ubuntu on multiple servers or desktops can instantly benefit from increased productivity and reduced costs of management.”
“I’m delighted to see Landscape being made available to Canonical’s customers,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu. “Canonical’s support services are now at a point where anyone with serious deployment intentions on Ubuntu has the reassurance of a center of expertise to help them succeed. Landscape is a vital tool in taking Ubuntu further into the business and enterprise markets.”
Canonical offers two levels of support: 9 to 5 daily and 24-hour support. For each level, there are three types of support: Desktop, Server and Thin-Client/Cluster. The least expensive support contract is $250 for an annual desktop contract. At the high end, 24×7 support for thin-clients and clusters costs $4,000. Subscribers to any level or type of support receive Landscape services free of any additional charges.