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Canonical's Vision For Ubuntu Getting 'Cloudy'

CEO Mark Shuttleworth shines a spotlight on Ubuntu's road map and promises open source cloud management features and tools in an energy-smart package.

In an email to developers over the weekend, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth baptized the next version of Ubuntu, which will have features to help IT shops to build their own clouds.

Given the lyrical name of Karmic Koala, Ubuntu 9.10 is due in October. Shuttleworth wrote that it's his hope that the upcoming release can keep free software at the forefront of cloud computing by "embracing the APIs of Amazon EC2 and making it easy for anybody to set up their own cloud using entirely open tools."

Canonical has released Karmic Koala to beta testers with Ubuntu base AMIs intended for use on Amazon EC2. AMI, or Amazon Machine Image, is a version of an operating system and software stack that can be used on top of the Xen hypervisor used by Amazon for the EC2 cloud.

Shuttleworth said he wanted to make the beta easy to deploy applications into the cloud, and have it be prepared for use with ready-to-run appliances. He made it clear that cloud computing features were going to the new release. "A good Koala knows how to see the wood for the trees, even when her head is in the clouds," he wrote.

Canonical will also make use of open source cloud management tools, called Eucalyptus, being developed at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

"During the Karmic cycle we expect to make those clouds dance, with dynamically growing and shrinking resource allocations depending on your needs," Shuttleworth explained.

Sounding more like a short story writer than a blogger, Shuttleworth wrote that a "savvy Koala knows the best way to conserve energy is to go to sleep, and these days even servers can suspend and resume, so imagine if we could make it possible to build a cloud computing facility that drops its energy use virtually to zero by napping in the midday heat, and waking up when there's work to be done. No need to drink at the energy fountain when there's nothing going on. If we get all of this right, our Koala will help take the edge off the bear market."

Turning to his company's desktop plans, Shuttleworth said it's trying to get his operating system to boot faster and will continue those efforts with Karmic Koala, which is expected to be called Ubuntu 9.10 when it is released. He added that the goal is to get Jaunty Jackalope, the code name for Ubuntu 9.04 due in late April, to boot up on a netbook in 25 seconds, and then to beat that time with the desktop version of Karmic Koala.

Shuttleworth added that the desktop version would contain the latest enhancements from the Moblin project, an Intel-project that has created a variant of Linux optimized for netbooks and a number of other mobile Internet devices based on Intel's own Atom processors.

InformationWeek has published an independent analysis of Ubuntu in the enterprise. Download the report here (registration required).

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