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Canonical Offers Up LTS Release With Ubuntu 16.04

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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Businesses running open source Ubuntu offered new long term support (LTS) release 16.04

Canonical has updated its popular open-source operating system with the delivery of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

The LTS part is significant as it stands for long-term support. This means that businesses can purchase a support agreement that will see Canonical offer five years of updates and technical support for the open source OS.

New Features

The last time Canonical released a LTS version of its operating system was version 14.04, way back in April 2014. Since that time it has pushed out non LTS releases, and 16.04 marks only the sixth such LTS release for Canonical.

So what does Ubuntu 16.04 offer?

Well it includes the new Mitaka version of the OpenStack cloud framework, an updated LXD container hypervisor for ultra-fast and ultra-dense cloud computing, as well as ZFS and CephFS for large-scale cloud storage.

Mark-Shuttleworth-lead“The leading cloud-based operations and the most advanced robotics run largely on Ubuntu, and this new release is the basis for the next wave of their innovation” said Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Canonical. “We are proud to serve the needs of the enterprise, and research, and millions of personal and non-profit users, with one single shared free software platform”.

But Canonical is also touting the ‘snap’ feature with Ubuntu 16.04, to enable faster and simpler software delivery and operations. The new ‘snaps’ application format can be installed alongside traditional Debian packages.

Developers will appreciate the fact that the snap format is easier to secure and easier to produce, thanks to a new tool called “snapcraft”, claimed the company. This tool allows developers to build and package applications from source and existing deb packages.

“Snaps enable developers to deliver much newer versions of apps to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS over the life of the platform, solving a long-standing challenge with free platforms and enabling users to stay on a stable base for longer while enjoying newer applications, said Canonical.

It said Snaps mark an important milestone in its efforts to create a converged Ubuntu across IOT, mobile and desktop.

This release also includes an LXD feature, a pure-container hypervisor that delivers 14x the density and substantially greater speed for Linux guests compared to established traditional virtualisation. “Using LXD as a hypervisor for OpenStack enables greater density of workloads and has lower latency than any other cloud infrastructure in the market today,” claimed Canonical.

Also included in this release is support for ZFS-on-Linux, a combination of a volume manager and filesystem which enables efficient snapshots, copy-on-write cloning, continuous integrity checking against data corruption, automatic filesystem repair, and data compression.

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS also includes another storage option with support for CephFS, a distributed filesystem that caters for cluster computing on open technology.

“The Long Term support model Canonical offers with Ubuntu 16.04 and Mitaka really fits in with the needs of Sky as we continue to build out our Ubuntu OpenStack Cloud to deliver the most innovative media services available today,” said Matt Smith, Cloud Platforms Manager, at Sky.

“Thanks to the introduction of snap into Ubuntu, we are able to continually optimize Firefox, providing users the most up-to-date features,” said Nick Nguyen, VP of Product, Firefox at Mozilla.

Expanded Reach

Canonical has been seeking to expand the reach of Ubuntu for some time now. Last October it released Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) with an OpenStack deployer to aid speedy rollout of Ubuntu OpenStack clouds.

Also last year Canonical revealed it was getting into the embedded device market in a bid to secure the Internet of things (IoT). It positioned Ubuntu to be relevant for embedded devices and IoT by taking advantage of the Snappy Ubuntu Core technology.

Canonical had already bundled in smartphone support when it shipped 13.10 (“Saucy Salamander”) back in 2013.

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