Ubuntu Summit Plans To Polish The Precise Pangolin

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With Oneiric Ocelot just released, Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth wants to get next year’s release right

With the current version of Ubuntu Linux taking the cloud by storm, the developer community will look to the next version, Precise Pangolin, at its developer summit in Florida next week, according to Mark Shuttleworth, head of Canonical, the services company which leads the Ubuntu project.

Precise Pangolin (Ubuntu 12.04,) is due in April 2012, will include support for ARM processors and consolidate recent changes such as a change in user interface. As the next Long Term Support (LTS) version of the OS, it comes three years after the LTS version, Lucid Lynx, and will have three years’ support.  Precise Pangolin will replace the Oneiric Ocelot (11.04) interim release, which emerged on 13 October.

Ubuntu number one for cloud

Shuttleworth said the focus will be on consolidation rather than on new major infrastructure: “While there are some remaining areas where we’d like to tweak the user experience, they will probably be put on hold so we can focus on polish, performance and predictability.”

“This is our fourth LTS release and it needs to carry on, and entrench, the reputation of the LTS as a carrier-grade platform for mission-critical server deployments and large scale desktop deployments,” said Shuttleworth on his blog.

The main areas of work will be maintaining Ubuntu’s strong positioning in the cloud, refining interface aesthetics and working with the ARM architecture on system-on-a-chip (SoC) parts, said Shuttleworth. The 12.04 numbering might sound like an interim release, but Ubuntu releases are numbered according to their delivery date  and the Pangolin will arrive in April 2012.

“In a world where computational density is increasingly prioritised over single-thread performance,” wrote Shuttleworth, “the entry of ARM to the server market is a very interesting shift. Ubuntu has established a very strong competence in ARM and I think the 12.04 LTS release will power a new generation of power-focused hardware for the data centre.”

He added that despite the calibre of collaboration between Ubuntu and OpenStack, and the focused efforts of Canonical to make Ubuntu useful in the cloud, the 12.04 LTS must deliver “the world’s best cloud infrastructure powered by OpenStack’s corresponding major release,  perfect support for cloud-oriented hardware from Canonical’s partner IHV’s, a great hybrid-cloud story, for those using a mixture of private and public clouds, and the world’s best guest OS on AWS, Rackspace and other public cloud infrastructures.”

Another key focus will be making it easy to bootstrap and manage services across public, private and hybrid clouds “Juju charms are the magic by which we’re flattening all those cloud substrates and bringing devops practices into the Ubuntu administrator toolbox.  Those who attended the recent OpenStack Summit will have caught the buzz around Juju, which brings APT-like semantics to cloud service deployments.”

Juju charms can currently be deployed on bare-metal farms of hardware with no virtualisation, such as Hadoop or Condor compute clusters, Amazon’s public cloud infrastructure, Ubuntu’s OpenStack-based cloud infrastructure, and on the developer workstation using LXC containers so developers can use charms locally which are then re-used by administrators deploying to the cloud.

User interface change

Meanwhile on the desktop, Ubuntu is now over a traumatic change in user interface, said Shuttleworth. when the GNOME interface went to GNOME Shell, Ubuntu diverged to its own Unity interface.  The differences between the two have caused some debate.

“The nail-biting transitions to Unity and GNOME 3 are behind us, so this cycle is an opportunity to put perfection front and center,” Shuttleworth wrote, saying there is now an opportunity to work through the whole desktop interface, ensuring that the desktop is manageable at scale, can be locked down in the ways institutions need, and that it can be upgraded from 10.04 LTS smoothly as promised.

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