The Ubuntu Linux 10.4 release codenamed the Lucid Lynx is set for general availability today, providing users with new desktop, server and cloud capabilities. Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu, is also highlighting the broad ISV support for the release.
The Lucid release is particularly important for Ubuntu as it is the project's first enterprise Long-Term Support (LTS) release since the 8.04 Hardy Heron release in 2008. Ubuntu LTS releases come out every two years and offer three years of support on the desktop and five years on the server, while regular Ubuntu releases only come with support for 18 months.
Canonical executives see the LTS as being a key milestone for Ubuntu support by ISVs and OEMs.
"What's really exciting is the ecosystem support that we've seen around this release," Canonical CEO Jane Silber said on a conference call announcing the release. "With over 80 vendors announcing support for about 100 applications, that's significant and a recognition of the long term support nature of this particular release."
Among the ISV supporting the Ubuntu Lucid release are vendors like Alfresco, Cloudera, EnterpriseDB, GroundWork Open Source, Pentaho, SugarCRM and Zend. Names missing from the list of ISVs include enterprise software giants Oracle and SAP, however. That's not especially surprising: Lack of certification support from Oracle and SAP is an issue that has faced Ubuntu for years.
Despite the holdouts, Silber noted that the number of ISVs certifying with the new Lucid release is greater than the number that certified for Ubuntu's previous LTS release, though she was unable to cite specific numbers about the previous edition's ISV support.
"It really is a significant increase, and we plan to continue to push on that," Silber said.
Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth noted during the call that for smaller ISVs, the intersection of their user bases with Ubuntu's own user base is demonstrable. When it comes to larger enterprise software vendors, meanwhile, Shuttleworth expects that the conversations and relationships will change as Ubuntu usage volumes increase.
Ubuntu Opportunity in the Cloud
For Ubuntu server deployments, Shuttleworth noted that he sees a breakthrough opportunity in cloud computing with the Lucid release. In the new release, Ubuntu is building on the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) work that has been present since the Jaunty Jackalope release that came out in April 2009.
The key to growing Ubuntu's cloud deployments, according to Shuttleworth, is the OS's competitive speed of deployment and configuration along with its ability to scale. To date, Ubuntu has stated that it has over 12,000 installations of its cloud technology.
"We do believe that cloud computing is a fantastic catalyst for the adoption of Ubuntu," Shuttleworth said.
Desktop Ubuntu and future enterprise releases
For desktop users of Ubuntu, Shuttleworth noted that the Lucid release includes a number of items that show some differentiation against other operating systems. Among them is the integration of the Ubuntu One Music store and the social networking integration with the desktop user interface.
The other improved desktop item is the Ubuntu Software Center, which is intended to be an easier way for users to acquire and install software. Moving forward, Shuttleworth noted that the Ubuntu Software Center will continue to be expanded for the 10.10 release later this year. Among the plans under consideration for Ubuntu 10.10 is a commercial framework which will allow proprietary software vendors to sell their applications to Ubuntu users.
Looking even further out onto the Ubuntu roadmap, Shuttleworth said he's confident that the company he founded will be able to continue on its path of LTS releases in the future.
"Today, we're in the very privileged position as a software platform vendor of being able to say with both confidence and some credibility that we intend to deliver our next LTS in April 2012," Shuttleworth said.