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Ubuntu 10.04: Where Ubuntu goes from here


The new Ubuntu release is almost here and I like the Ubuntu 10.04 desktop a lot. As a Linux expert, it’s a little too simple for my personal tastes, but it’s the best beginner Linux out of the box I’ve ever seen. That’s all well and good, but where Canonical, Ubuntu’s parent company really hopes to make money is from this latest LTS (Long Term Support) Ubuntu Linux for the server and the cloud.

Canonical CEO Jane Silber and Founder and VP of Product Design Mark Shuttleworth were candid about this at a noon Eastern Time press conference announcing the arrival of the 10.04 Server and Desktop. That said, Silber was also pleased to report that other companies are now shipping Ubuntu desktop on laptops from Lenovo in China and Sharp in Japan.

Shuttleworth also noted that Ubuntu’s basic design philosophy is going to center on making it ‘light.’ By this he meant both light as a distribution and light and fast to deploy both on desktops and servers.

The real breakthroughs for Ubuntu though, according to Shuttleworth, is in cloud computing. He said that Ubuntu 10.04 has two major themes. The first is that it will be exceptional in its speed of deployment and configuration. The second is its ability to scale. As far as Shuttleworth is concerned, for enterprise customers, “Ubuntu is the right platform for speed and scalability on Amazon EC2 and Rackspace.”

Shuttleworth added that he is committed to “making Canonical profitable in the enterprise market.” He knows it won’t be easy but he’ll “see it through” and Ubuntu is already “showing good growth” in the business market.

Part of this will come from Ubuntu 10.04 LTS server’s growing number of open-source and proprietary application providers certifying their applications on Ubuntu Server Edition. According to Canonical, “Almost 100 organizations have signaled their intent to certify applications on the platform, including Alfresco, Ingres, IBM, VMware, Zimbra, Yahoo! and many others with more expected to follow post-launch.”

“The range of industry, analyst and user support we are seeing for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on server has the makings of a breakout release for this technology,” said Silber in a statement. “We can consolidate the significant technical advances we’ve made since the last LTS release onto a stable, secure and long-term supported platform that the industry is gathering around. This is exciting for us, for our partners and most of all for our users and I expect to see Ubuntu adoption accelerate as a core infrastructure layer for volume services and cloud computing in the world’s data centers.”

Canonical also announced that it has advanced several new hardware and software partnerships. The biggest news on the hardware side is that Dell will support the Ubuntu server and Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud as an option on its cloud-server PowerEdge-C line.

As for software, Adobe is also working with Canonical. Anup Murarka, director for Technology Strategy and Partner Development, Flash Platform, Adobe, explained in a statement that, “We are working with Ubuntu and other partners to enable certification of Flash Player 10.1 for Linux on the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release, an exciting release for Linux-based desktops and devices.” This Adobe and Canonical partnership could lead to much bigger things if Adobe and Apple continue to fight.

Likewise, which makes a CIFS (Common Internet File System) server and supports AD (Active Directory) integration on Linux is also working with Ubuntu. In a statement, Barry Crist, Likewise’s CEO said. “By enabling Ubuntu 10.04 LTS users to quickly and easily integrate with networks on both desktops and servers, we support Ubuntu adoption in the enterprise.”

Put it all together and you don’t have just a new Ubuntu release, but the announcement of a major effort by Canonical and its partners to make Ubuntu a worthy competitor to Red Hat and Novell in the enterprise space.

A version of this story first appeared in ComputerWorld.