With a lack of any license fees and a focus on cloud features from its primary sponsor, Canonical, Ubuntu has flourished in the cloud, becoming a popular guest operating system on Amazon EC2 and other infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) options, and the reference OS of choice for the OpenStack and Cloud Foundry projects.
Pac ked with cloud tools,but short on documentation
[caption id="attachment_42366" align="alignleft" width="185" caption="Ubuntu is available for servers, PCs and the cloud"][/caption]
Based on my tests of Ubuntu Server 11.10, the project’s cloud-attractiveness shows no sign of abating. The new version, which shipped alongside its desktop-oriented sibling this week, is packed with tools for building, orchestrating and running on clouds, both private and public.
Version 11.10, also known as Oneiric Ocelot, is one of the project’s fast-moving, short-support-term releases, and includes more than a few rough edges in its new features, which I hope to see smoothed out for the next Long Term Support (LTS) edition of Ubuntu, set to arrive in the spring.
In particular, I found lacking the documentation for 11.10’s key new features, such as for deploying OpenStack private clouds. For now, most Ubuntu private-cloud documentation refers to the now-deprecated Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud feature based on Eucalyptus‘ open-source EC2 workalike.
With that said, Ubuntu Server 11.10 has me looking forward to the spring’s LTS version, and I’ve been impressed enough with the current state of its management tools to keep an instance of it running in our lab to help with server and middleware installs for our tests. For production purposes, I recommend sticking with the previous LTS edition of Ubuntu Server, version 10.04.
Ubuntu Server 11.10 is available for free download here, in separate versions tailored for the x86 and x86-64 processor architectures.
Ubuntu Server in the Lab
I tested Ubuntu Server 11.10 on a white-box server powered by AMD Opteron 4000 series processors on Amazon EC2 and on a handful of VirtualBox virtual machines (VMs) running on my desktop. I used that handful of VMs to test Ubuntu Server’s automatable network-installation toolkit, Orchestra, following along with the tutorial here.
Orchestra brings together a few pre-existing open-source projects, chiefly the Cobbler installation and Nagios monitoring servers, to provide an automated way of deploying Ubuntu servers on bare metal or VMs. Ubuntu wraps these components into a single install command; I was able, in short order, to bring up an Orchestra server and install a managed Ubuntu instance via PXE boot.