Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has announced plans for Karmic Koala, version 9.10 of the Ubuntu Linux distribution. It will include improved support for cloud computing, better netbook compatibility, and faster boot time.
By Ryan Paul | Last updated February 20, 2009 3:31 PM
Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth revealed plans Friday for Ubuntu 9.10, which will be codenamed Karmic Koala. The developers plan to bring cloud capabilities to Ubuntu's server edition, boost startup performance on the desktop, and continue work on the distro's netbook flavor.
Ubuntu adheres to a time-based six-month release cycle. The next major release—version 9.04, codenamed Jaunty Jackalope—is moving towards feature freeze and is scheduled for launch in April. Ubuntu 9.10, which will be the next release after Jaunty, is planned for October.
The Ubuntu server edition, which was initially launched in 2005, has been steadily gaining ground in the enterprise, but still lags in adoption behind competing offerings from Red Hat and Novell. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has been investing considerable effort into making Ubuntu a first-class server distro. During the development cycle for Karmic, Canonical aims to strengthen the server edition by introducing enhanced support for cloud computing.
One plan is to create a set of standard Ubuntu server Amazon Machine Image (AMI) profiles that will provide a starting point for creating specialized images. This will help to simplify deployment of Ubuntu on Amazon's EC2 platform. The developers also intend to integrate support for Eucalyptus, an open source framework for implementing a self-hosted elastic computing cluster. The Eucalyptus project, which is developed by UCSB, will enable organizations to get many of the advantages of elastic computing in their own data centers, including the ability to scale down power consumption when load is low.
"A savvy Koala knows that 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," Shuttleworth wrote in a mailing list post. "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."
Desktop and netbook plans
On the desktop, boot performance and beautification will be an area of focus. The target boot time for Jaunty is 25 seconds, and Shuttleworth believes that this can be improved further for Karmic. He also wants to explore ways to bring a smoother, flicker-free startup animation, potentially by adopting Red Hat's Plymouth framework. We could also finally see the inclusion of Ubuntu's experimental face browser login screen.
Canonical has been investing a lot in design and usability, both upstream and in the distro. Shuttleworth hints that Ubuntu might go beyond brown and get a new look for Karmic, but we are skeptical after hearing this for the past three development cycles.
The netbook remix is another area where the Ubuntu developers intend to continue pushing forward with improvements. They will be integrating features from Intel's Moblin platform in order to improve performance on Atom-based devices.
Planning for the Karmic release will take place at the next Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) which will take place in Barcelona in May. For additional details about the event, check out Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon's blog entry.