More on Ubuntu Server
10/10/10 was the cue for plenty of 10-related nonsense last week, much of it scheduled -- somewhat predictably -- for 10:10 am.
Somewhat ironically, perhaps the least contrived event was the release of Ubuntu 10.10 Server Edition, known as "Maverick Meerkat." New versions of Ubuntu are offered every six months, as regularly as clockwork, and since the last version was released in April, this one was always going to be in October. Still, it didn't stop Canonical, Ubuntu's sponsor, from choosing the October 10 as the precise release date for the server OS, just to get in to the decimal groove.
Without getting too carried away with the 10 theme, here are 10 things you should know about Ubuntu 10.10 Server Edition:
1. This release of the open source server OS has a strong cloud emphasis, aiming to make deployments to both public clouds -- like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) -- and private clouds more straightforward. "In terms of the specific features, they're very public-cloud centric. A lot of the work we have done has been about enabling features for use on EC2," is how Neil Levine, Canonical's VP of Corporate Services put it over at ZDNet. There's certainly no mistaking Canonical's intent, and Ubuntu is already one of the most popular server operating systems on Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), according to the company.
2. Ubuntu 10.10 Server Edition extends Canonical's CloudInit configuration tool. This lets you set a default locale, set the hostname, generate and set up SSH private keys, and set up mount points on Ubuntu instances during boot-up when running in the cloud.
3. Amazon has adopted CloudInit for its own use in EC2.
4. Another new feature is the ability to take an Amazon Machine Image -- basically an Ubuntu server that runs on the EC2 service -- and run it off-line using the KVM virtualization system. That means you can develop and test your servers to your heart's content without having to pay Amazon for the privilege.
5. There have been a number of little changes to the Ubuntu kernel in Maverick Meerkat. One result is you can now patch the kernel on running instances on EC2 without having to reboot the AMI -- a first for EC2.
6. The server OS distribution includes Eucalyptus 2.0, which is the latest version of the core cloud technology used in Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), Canonical's private cloud offering. Other improvements to UEC include a new interface and the ability to run it from a USB stick, which could conceivably be useful for testing or demonstration purposes.
7. Maverick Meerkat and UEC both support virtio, an I/O virtualization framework that provides an abstraction for hypervisors and a common set of I/O virtualization drivers.
8. If you want a distribute file system, you're in luck: GlusterFS and Ceph have both been integrated into Maverick Meerkat. GlusterFS is described as a general-purpose distributed file system for scalable storage while Ceph is a completely distributed file system without a single point of failure.
9. This release of Ubuntu Server is the last one that supports Oracle's Sparc and Intel's Itanium processors.
10. Just to push the 10 theme to the limit, Canonical has launched a "Ubuntu Server on Cloud 10" initiative, which means you can try out Maverick Meerkat on Amazon's EC2 free for one hour. But it's hard to avoid the thought that 10 hours might have been more appropriate.
Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.