Canonical Refreshes With ‘Snappy’ Ubuntu Core And Easy Updates

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

New version of Ubuntu Core comes with transactional updates to mimic a mobile phone update

Canonical has unveiled a new version of Ubuntu designed for the cloud, which aims to update cloud  instances with the same certainty and precision as a mobile phone.

Canonical announced that its new “Ubuntu Core” is a new rendition of Ubuntu for the cloud with transactional updates, which are now being used instead of its traditional apt-get system.

Bullet Proof

Ubuntu Core is of course designed for the cloud, as it offers a minimal server image with the same libraries as today’s Ubuntu. However applications are provided through a simpler mechanism, which according to Canonical is a snappy approach that is faster, more reliable, and lets it provide stronger security guarantees for apps and users. It is, therefore, calling them “snappy” applications.

These “snappy apps” and Ubuntu Core can be upgraded atomically and rolled back if needed. Canonical says this is a bulletproof approach to systems management, which is called “transactional” or “image-based” systems management, and is perfect for container deployments.

Ubuntu Core is in beta currently on Microsoft Azure and as a KVM image on any Linux machine.

Mark Shuttleworth“Ubuntu Core builds on the world’s favourite container platform and provides transactional updates with rigorous application isolation,” said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical. “This is the smallest, safest platform for Docker deployment ever, and with snappy packages, it’s completely extensible to all forms of container or service.”

Shuttleworth then used a blog posting to describe how the snappy transactional updates are part of an effort to make updating a cloud instance, as easy as updating a mobile phone.

“This is in a sense the biggest break with tradition in 10 years of Ubuntu, because Ubuntu Core doesn’t use debs or apt-get,” wrote Shuttleworth. “We call it ‘snappy’ because that’s the new bullet-proof mechanism for app delivery and system updates; it’s completely different to the traditional package-based Ubuntu server and desktop.”

“The snappy system keeps each part of Ubuntu in a separate, read-only file, and does the same for each application. That way, developers can deliver everything they need to be confident their app will work exactly as they intend, and we can take steps to keep the various apps isolated from one another, and ensure that updates are always perfect,” he wrote.

Mobile Updates

“This is the biggest new thing in Ubuntu since we committed to deliver a mobile phone platform, and it’s very delicious that it’s borne of exactly the same amazing technology that we’ve been perfecting for these last three years,” wrote Shuttleworth. “I love it when two completely different efforts find underlying commonalities, and it’s wonderful to me that the work we’ve done for the phone, where carriers and consumers are the audience, might turn out to be so useful in the cloud, which is all about back-end infrastructure.”

Shuttleworth explained more about Snappy Ubuntu, Ubuntu on mobile devices, and transactional updates in this Youtube video.

It has been a busy time for the company. In October Canonical released Ubuntu 14.10 for cloud and servers, and added support for the latest cloud, hypervisor and container technology in a bid to make it easier for businesses to deploy and manage complex deployments.

At the same time, it also unveiled Ubuntu 14.10 for the desktop. That version came complete with improved graphics, CPU and audio support as well as new developer tools, as Canonical aimed to capitalise on a “stabilising” PC market.

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