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Ubuntu Releasing A Cloudy 'Jaunty Jackalope'

The 9.04 edition of Canonical's Linux distro for desktops and servers dovetails with cloud computing inside the firewall and on Amazon's EC2.

The upcoming edition of Ubuntu Linux is expected to help cement the operating system's status as a real player in enterprise networks for companies looking to connect to cloud computing systems.

The release (announced Monday and available for download on Thursday, April 23) has added little surprises since the final beta test last week. Die-hard Linux fans and even curious looky-loos have been anticipating version 9.04 or "Jaunty Jackalope" for months. Available in desktop and server versions, the software is expected to be a viable alternative to basic Windows XP PCs, especially in the category of compact laptops, called netbooks.

Ubuntu's handlers boast that Jaunty Jackalope's desktop improvements will give users more time between charges along with immediate access after hibernation. Included in the bundle are the OpenOffice.org 3.0 productivity suite and support for Skype. Adobe Flash Improved switching between Wi-Fi and 3G environments also has been broadened to support more wireless devices and 3G cards.

The server version's biggest addition is its connection with Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC). The feature makes Jaunty Jackalope the first commercially supported distribution to let companies build cloud environments on an intranet or connect with an external cloud provider like Amazon. The release is compatible with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said.

"We worked with a team from U.C. Santa Barbara on a reimplementation of a cloud framework," Shuttleworth told InformationWeek. "We were looking for something like this to bring into the open source arena and had seen their 'Eucalyptus Project' and decided it would fit our needs. Sometimes, work on Ubuntu has been initiated by our own developers. Sometimes, it's the other way around. This is one of those times."

The server edition also offers improved virtualization with the latest KVM features, clustering support in Samba file server, and mail server setup with Dovecot-Postfix integration. Jackalope will debut Advanced Message Queue Protocol (AMQP) support to the distribution for high-performance enterprise messaging to Ubuntu users through Rabbit MQ and an easy upgrade to MySQL 5.1.

Canonical also has worked to extend the range of certified servers for Ubuntu 9.04, certifying more than 45 server configurations, including the most popular midrange servers from HP, IBM, and Dell.

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

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