The 7.04 server and desktop edition includes a Java boost from Sun Microsystems and a vote of confidence from PC magnate Michael Dell.

Michael Singer, Contributor

April 19, 2007

3 Min Read

Ubuntu Linux vendor Canonical on Thursday released the latest version of its Linux product to the accolades of both Sun Microsystems and Michael Dell, albeit for different reasons.

Version 7.04 -- a.ka. Feisty Fawn -- comes in two flavors: desktop and server. Both include a Microsoft Windows migration assistant, wireless networking support, and improved multimedia support. Canonical executives called the release the "most user-friendly version to date and ideally suited to anyone who wants to make the switch to Linux."

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said the company was overwhelmed by the public's response to the Feisty Fawn release. Excessive server downloads caused a backup on the Canonical Web site and its 160 mirrored sites, he said. Approximately 65% of the download requests came from North America, while 25% came from Europe and 10% from other areas around the globe. "Very typical," Shuttleworth commented.

"This will be our sixth release, marking the third anniversary of the project's inception, and will be a return to our standard six-month release schedule following the shortened catch-up cycle used for 6.10," Shuttleworth said on his blog this week.

In addition to its own improvements, Canonical said Feisty Fawn has the added benefit of including a free-of-charge Java stack. The stack is comprised of the open source Java Platform, Enterprise Edition 5 implementation known as GlassFish; the Java Platform, Standard Edition (JDK 6); the Java database version 10.2 product (built from Apache Derby) and Sun's preferred software development tool NetBeans version 5.5.

While the components have been available for IT managers and consumers to install by themselves, Sun Microsystems was quick to point out this was the first time the components could install easily over a network.

Since its launch in October 2004, Ubuntu has become the darling of Debian/GNU Linux supporters who seem adverse to either Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise products. Sun, which continues to license more of its Java components under a GNU General Public License, continues to build its relationship with Canonical. The two companies most notable partnership came in 2006, when Sun validated Ubuntu for its Niagara servers.

Shuttleworth added that the expanded relationship with Sun was by no means a knee-jerk reaction to other Linux-Java enterprise pairings. "We don't eat our way up the stack," Shuttleworth said, referring to Red Hat's purchase of JBoss last year. On a side note, an unusual vote of confidence for Feisty Fawn seems to have come from PC magnate Michael Dell. Dell's corporate Web site that details the founder's several home and work computers includes a Dell Precision M90 laptop running Feisty Fawn. Dell as a company has offered servers with pre-loaded Linux for several years, but has yet to pick out an official distribution to support.

"It is a fun story for sure. The development guys here thought it was great. But I wouldn't put too much into it," Shuttleworth said during a conference call with the press, adding that Dell's use of Ubuntu was not an indication that Canonical is -- or is not -- in discussions with the PC maker. "The only time I ever met Michael Dell was at a Microsoft Summit at their headquarters and I didn't think it appropriate to bring up Linux there."

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