Ubuntu Linux Gets Feisty

Release spells incremental upgrades to open source software components

Three years after it burst onto the operating system scene, the Debian-based Ubuntu Linux has entered its sixth generation with the release of 7.04 dubbed "Feisty Fawn" globally today.

Feisty Fawn is distributed as both a desktop and server edition.

On the desktop, Ubuntu Feisty has a migration tool for personal Windows settings like Internet Explorer bookmarks and IM contacts, a wizard for installing third-party multimedia codecs, and plug-and-play network sharing.

The server release has native virtualization, improved SMP support, and better scheduling.

Feisty also now has support for remote network installations using an SSH terminal.

Other improvements include better UltraSPARC support, an updated LAMP stack and improved clustering software.

Local Ubuntu Linux users include fashion company UnderCoverWear, Thrifty car rentals, and the WIN television network.

Both the desktop and server releases of Ubuntu 7.04 will be supported for 18 months.

Sydney-based IT consulting firm Solutions First senior engineer Matt Palmer said a new release of Ubuntu is good as it will have more software and new hardware support, but he can't imagine massive numbers of businesses will upgrade to it immediately.

"Different people have different needs and at the moment we're not pushing Feisty hard, but that's because Dapper was such a good release and we know it will be supported," Palmer said.

Palmer said he is surprised at how quickly Ubuntu has become popular, and it is "surprising" how much mindshare it has gained with corporate IT people.

"Ubuntu gives us something we can hang our hat on," he said. "I'm a Debian developer but Ubuntu gives us a bit more reliability and you can talk about it with more corporate people."

Palmer claims over 90 percent of Solutions First's clients have some Linux in their organization.

One client switched from "mostly Debian" to Ubuntu for support reasons and has some 50 production, including virtual, servers and about 15 developer workstations running the open source operating system.

On Feisty's improved support for virtualization technologies from VMWare, Xen and the Linux-native KVM, Palmer said that is good because "the number of people asking about Xen is massive".

"If you can get virtualization out of the box that's useful," he said. "That's why VMWare worked so hard to get its product out for free. Most machines are doing nothing and virtualization reduces heat in the data centre and everyone wants that."

The Ubuntu Linux distribution is online at www.ubuntu.com.

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Rodney Gedda

Computerworld
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