Ubuntu 10.04 OS has enterprise appeal

Open source operating system Ubuntu 10.04, otherwise known as LucidLynx, slated for availability end of April as a Long Term Support (LTS) release, will be particularly appealing to enterprises dealing with large server deployments, said one analyst.


Enterprises running data centres or managing many servers will welcome the new LTS release because they’ll be “more interested in stability and less interested in updating,” said Jay Lyman, open source analyst with research firm The 451 Group.


Based on Debian GNU/Linux and currently in its second alpha release, Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will mean three years support on Ubuntu desktops and five years support on Ubuntu servers at no extra fee. LucidLynx will be the third Ubuntu LTS release.


Lyman said version 10.04 provides cloud computing capabilities and further integration with Ubuntu One, a storage application service in beta for storing and synchronizing files online and between PCs.


For those enterprises using social network applications like Twitter that are built on Gwibber, an open source microblogging client for Linux, Lyman said integration and support will be another benefit in the new version.


Among Ubuntu 10.04’s other new features are a Linux Kernel 2.6.32 and improved support for Nvidia graphics, which Lyman said provide “incremental yet useful performance gains.” And also the Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) has been removed allowing for a faster system reboot.


Mike Basinger, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based IT manager with the University of Utah Marriott Library and an Ubuntu Forum administrator, said there’s been notable effort in the new release toward allowing enterprises to scale their server environment to the cloud if need be.


“If you don’t have the machine available, you can actually rip space from Amazon and run a server in their cloud,” said Basinger. “That’s really neat.”


It’s much easier now, said Basinger, to activate those servers in the cloud than it was before.


Basinger agreed that the “revved-up” graphics driver will provide a “more crisp” experience for movie players.


But one issue of contention among the Ubuntu community regarding the new design interface in version 10.04 is the dramatic re-positioning of window controls from the right to the left side of the screen. “People are just not used to it. It’s been on the right forever,” said Basinger.


Basinger suspects version 10.10, due for release in October 2010, will use that freed up space on the right side of the window for added controls.


While it only took Basinger one day to get over the user interface change, the shift has proved too much for many in the Ubuntu community.


In his blog, Leftyby wrote “It’s official, Canonical (Ubuntu) has stopped caring about what its community actually wants and instead will go with the bad decision by its design team. Enough has been said about this issue so I’m not going bring up the reasons why this is a bad decision again.”

Similarly, Daviey, another annoyed Ubuntu user, blogged: “I tried to use this for nearly an hour and found that my habit was too strong, and it’s not one that I currently wish to change. I decided to revert it to something I’m used to (the far right), I’m not aware of an easy (graphical) method to do this …”


poll taken by Canonical Ltd., the company behind Ubuntu, showed 775 out of 1021 voters (75.91 per cent) preferred the window controls on the right, whereas only a hundred wanted the button on the left.


Ubuntu 10.04 will also feature the new Gnome (GNU Object Model Environment) desktop, a shift from Ubuntu’s trademark brown brand, and will reflect Ubuntu’s new “light” theme.


Dave Senf, research director for infrastructure solutions with Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd., said the recession has brought about more interest in Linux in the enterprise, where currently, 20 per cent of Canadian organizations have some level of Linux on the desktop. “That’s gone up a little bit over time,” said Senf.


Other factors driving Linux on the enterprise desktop include the Windows 7 refresh cycle, desktop virtualization and cloud computing.


It can be tricky for organizations running Windows-centric apps to migrate to Linux, said Senf, but there are increasingly better desktop infrastructure management tools available from the likes of Novell, Red Hat, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.


As for Linux on servers, Senf said adoption has been relatively flat in recent years compared to that of Windows, but it has “edged up a little bit.”


Ubuntu releases two versions per year, the release date denoted by the version number. Before Ubuntu 10.04, version 9.10 Karmic Koala was released in October 2009.


Follow Kathleen Lau on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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