Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'engineering'

Mark Baker

It is pretty well known that most of the OpenStack clouds running in production today are based on Ubuntu. Companies like Comcast, NTT, Deutsche Telekom, Bloomberg and HP all trust Ubuntu Server as the right platform to run OpenStack. A fair proportion of the Ubuntu OpenStack users out there also engage Canonical to provide them with technical support, not only for Ubuntu Server but OpenStack itself. Canonical provides full Enterprise class support for both Ubuntu and OpenStack and has been supporting some of the largest, most demanding customers and their OpenStack clouds since early 2011. This gives us a unique insight into what it takes to support a production OpenStack environment.

For example, in the period January 1st 2014 to end of March, Canonical processed hundreds of OpenStack support tickets averaging over 100 per month. During that time we closed 92 bugs whilst customers opened 99 new ones. These are bugs found by real customers running real clouds and we are pleased that they are brought to our attention, especially the hard ones as it helps makes OpenStack better for everyone.

The type of support tickets we see is interesting as core OpenStack itself only represents about 12% of the support traffic. The majority of problems arise between the interaction of OpenStack, the operating system and other infrastructure components – fibre channel drivers used by nova volume, or, QEMU/libvirt issues during upgrades for example. Fixing these problems requires deep expertise Ubuntu as well as OpenStack which is why customers choose Canonical to support them.

In my next post I’ll dig a little deeper into supporting OpenStack and how this contributes to the OpenStack ecosystem.

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David Duffey

Today we announced a collaborative support and engineering agreement with Dell.  As part of this agreement Canonical will add Dell 11G & 12G PowerEdge models to the Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS Certification List and Dell will add Ubuntu Server to its Linux OS Support Matrix.

In May 2012, Dell launched the OpenStack Cloud Reference Architecture using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on select PowerEdge-C series servers. Today’s announcement expands upon that offering by combining the benefits of Ubuntu Server Certification, Ubuntu Advantage enterprise support, and Dell Hardware ProSupport across the PowerEdge line.

Dell customers can now deploy with confidence when purchasing Dell PowerEdge servers with Dell Hardware ProSupport and Ubuntu Advantage.  When these customers call into Dell, their service tag numbers will be entitled with ProSupport and Ubuntu Advantage, which will create a seamless support experience via the collaborative Dell and Canonical support and engineering relationship.

In preparation for this announcement, Canonical engineers worked with Dell to enable and validate Ubuntu Server running on Dell PowerEdge Servers.  This work resulted in improved Ubuntu Server on Dell PowerEdge support for PCIe SSD (solid state drives), 4K-block drives, EFI booting, Web Services Management, consistent network device naming, and PERC (PowerEdge RAID Controllers).

Dell hardware systems management can be done out-of-band via ipmi, iDRAC, and the Lifecycle Controller.  Dell OMSA Ubuntu packages are also available but it is recommended to use the supported out-of-band systems management tools.  Dell TechCenter is a good resource for additional technical information about running Ubuntu Server on Dell PowerEdge servers.

If you are interested in purchasing Ubuntu Advantage for your Dell PowerEdge servers, please contact the Dell Solutions team at Canonical.  If your business is already using or thinking about using a supported Ubuntu Server infrastructure in your data-center then be sure to fill out the annual Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey to provide additional feedback.

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Victor Tuson Palau

ARM Server Explained

You have probably started to notice a continuous buzz around ARM Servers for the last few months:

  • Calxeda (an System on  a Chip maker) presented their solution at UDS-Q.
  • HP announced their moonshot program, which Canonical is playing a key role in
  • Dell also unveiled their ARM Server strategy
  • and the list goes on ..

But, do you know what it is all about? why are all these top companies interested on putting phone technology into servers? Will it work? Trying to answer these questions and more, I created an on-line presentation around ARM Servers for your viewing pleasure:

The presentation is done using Prezi.  Prezi is a new way to generate more dynamic presentations. I will give you a few tips:

  • When viewing a Prezi, make sure you click on the “Full Screen” for maximum effect (under More..)
  • You can also click on auto-run if you would like the animation to happen on its own
  • You can also use the right and left arrows to move around the animation at your leisure
  • If you want to zoom into something, just double click on it!

Enjoy! direct url:  http://prezi.com/_zwqpnowk8cv/arm-server/

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Victor Tuson Palau

Have you been wondering if your Web application will work with the new generation of Hyperdense ARM Servers? Now you can easily find out by using Ubuntu and Amazon Web Services.

For over 4 years, Canonical has been supporting Linux on ARM. Ubuntu Server 12.04 is our first Long Term Support on ARM.

As a confirmation of Ubuntu’s leadership position on hyperdense servers, Calxeda unveiled earlier this month their ARM Server platform at UDS-Q Oakland.

Now, Canonical makes available in Amazon Web Services an AMI image for developers wishing to experiment with Ubuntu ARM Server. Dann Frazier is the engineer behind this initiative. I took some of his time today to asking a few questions:

How did this came about?
We were wanting to do some internal functional testing of the 12.04 release across our global team without shipping hardware around. We had a QEMU model with us and using cloud systems to host it seemed like an excellent way to grow our (emulated) machine count.

Can you give me some examples of what could I do with it?
Basically, anything you can do with Ubuntu Server. You can install packages, deploy Juju charms, test your web applications, etc. However, I would strongly suggest not using it for any production work or performance testing – being an emulated environment, you will notice some overhead.

Who do you expect will use this new AMI?
Developers looking to test their applications on ARM, people wanting to test Juju charm deployments in a multi-architecture environment, and anyone just looking to kick the tires.

This is all great, How do I get my hands on it?
Canonical has published an AMI on Amazon EC2. You will need an Amazon Web Services account, then just go into your Management Console for EC2 and launch a new instance.  Select “Community AMIs” and look for AMI ID ‘ami-aef328c7′. (We’ll keep the latest AMI ID posted at http://wiki.ubuntu.com/ARM/Server). Or click here.

Are there any limations compared to a real hardware box?
The AMI provides an Ubuntu 12.04 (‘armhf’) system running on an emulated hardware system. Performance is limited due to the emulation overhead. This AMI requires the use of an m1.large instance type due to memory requirements.

Once again, thanks to Dann and the Canonical team for sharing this neat tool with the community. It sounds great and easy to set up. So, What are you waiting for?

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Jane Silber

The Ubuntu Developer Summit  last week was an incredible event. The energy, excitement and passion around Ubuntu was palpable in the sessions, hallways and the neighbouring streets and restaurants. (The riot police were there for the Occupy protest, not UDS!) Over 650 attendees came from all over the world, the local environs, and we even had a few Ubuntu fans who were simply staying in the same hotel who were thrilled to see the community behind their favourite technology product in action.

I’d like to thank once again the sponsors of the event: HP, Google, Intel, Linaro, Qt, Oracle and Rackspace. Their support is critical to health of Ubuntu and the Ubuntu community, and also demonstrates the importance of Ubuntu to their businesses.

An incredible amount of work gets done at each UDS. To see the breadth and depth of the topics addressed at this one, take a look at the schedule or the list of 272 blueprints registered for UDS. If you just want an overview of some of the outcomes of UDS, here is a video of the track leads summarising the highlights each track. And as usual we will publicly track the development progress throughout the cycle, allowing you to see how key features are progressing or to find areas in which you can contribute to the goals. You can see that Ubuntu 12.10 is starting to take shape already!

Several times throughout the event I was asked what stood out about this UDS. The most striking thing for me in this UDS is the involvement of companies who are building their business and products around Ubuntu. Ubuntu and UDS have long had strong industry support, with OEMs and corporate customers hosting, sponsoring and speaking at previous UDS’s. But in addition to the sponsors mentioned above, at the UDS we saw:

- the worldwide debut of a Calxeda cluster using their EnergyCore ARM-based server chip. Later in the week Calxeda also demonstrated a scaling website deployment on this hardware using Juju and OpenStack
- the first  Ubuntu Cloud Day, with an impressive line up of speakers from HP, Cloudscaling, Rackspace, VMWare, Scality, 10gen, EngineYard, Iron IO, Scalr, enStratus, RedMonk and Canonical. Presentations and discussions focused on the importance of the open cloud and lessons from real cloud deployments, and it was clear how central Ubuntu is to majority of real world cloud use.
- an insightful talk from Thomas Bushnell from Google about their Ubuntu use

This has also inspired a number of other companies to blog about their use – e.g., iAcquire recently blogged about their use of Ubuntu and associated cost-savings. If you have a similar post, leave a link in the comments.

I am also often asked about the history of UDS, how many we’ve had, where they were, etc. So for the history buffs, here’s a list of the events that have now become the Ubuntu Developer Summit (it took a couple years to settle into the current name and rhythm). I feel privileged to have been at all of them, and to have seen how they have matured into a best practice which projects from OpenStack to Linaro now adopt and help improve. I also have treasured memories from each – what do you remember most about each of them?

  • Aug 2004 Oxford, England – aka Warthogs Conference. Working on 4.10 (Warty)
  • Dec 2004 Mataro, Spain – aka The Mataro Sessions. Working on 5.04 (Hoary)
  • Apr 2005 Sydney, Australia – aka Ubuntu Down Under. Planning for 5.10 (Breezy), co-located with an Ubuntu Love Day.
  • Oct 2005 Montreal, Canada – aka Ubuntu Below Zero. Planning for 6.06 LTS (Dapper), co-located with an Ubuntu Love Day.
  • June 2006 Paris, France – first event called Ubuntu Developer Summit. Planning for 6.10 (Edgy)
  • Nov 2006 Mountain View, California. Planning for 7.04 (Feisty)
  • May 2007 Sevilla, Spain. Planning for 7.10 (Gutsy)
  • Nov 2007 Cambridge, Massachusetts. Planning for 8.04 LTS (Hardy)
  • May 2008 Prague, Czech Republic. Planning for 8.10 (Intrepid)
  • Oct 2008 Mountain View, California. Planning for 9.04 (Jaunty), co-located with a FOSSCamp
  • May 2009 Barcelona, Spain. Planning for 9.10 (Karmic)
  • Nov 2009 Dallas, Texas. Planning for 10.04 LTS (Lucid)
  • May 2010 La Hulpe, Belgium. Planning for 10.10 (Maverick)
  • Oct 2010 Orlando, Florida. Planning for 11.04 (Natty). Co-located with LinaroConnect.
  • May 2011 Budapest, Hungary. Planning for 11.10 (Oneiric). Co-located with LinaroConnect.
  • Nov 2011 Orlando, Florida. Planning for 12.04 LTS (Precise). Co-located with LinaroConnect.
  • May 2012 Oakland, California. Planning for 12.10 (Quantal). Co-located with the Ubuntu Cloud Summit
  • And coming up on 29 Oct – 2 Nov 2012 …  mark your calendar now and stay tuned for details about location, sponsorship and participation!

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Victor Tuson Palau

Improving Hardware Support in Ubuntu

Anthony Wong, Project Technical Lead at Canonical, presented our process for improving hardware support in Ubuntu at our 2011 Hardware Summit.  He did such a good job that I asked him to distill the essence of his presentation into a blog post. This is what he had to say:

Ubuntu has always been dedicated to providing a great user experience to support a wide variety of hardware on the desktop, by installing the necessary drivers seamlessly during the system installation. Having said that, there are lots of things happening behind the scene to deliver this level of hardware support that is among the best in Linux distributions.

Canonical has been working closely with many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for several years in shipping Ubuntu on laptops, desktops and servers. Lots of hardware issues have been found and fixed so that all the major hardware in the machines can be operated correctly.

One of the missions of the Canonical Hardware Enablement (HWE) Team is to track and drive code changes from OEM enablement projects into future Ubuntu releases and upstream. We have a concept of n+1 fixes which we do our best to make sure that those bugs are corrected in our next (that is, n+1) release.

The following two diagrams illustrate how HWE collaborate with upstream maintainers and our kernel team in order to have code fixes flow from OEM projects to Ubuntu distribution and upstream (click on the images to enlarge).

The first scenario depicts the case that a hardware bug is found in an OEM enablement project and no known fix has yet existed.There are generally two ways we can proceed from here, one is to have our engineers develop a fix and submit to upstream, the other one is to report the issue to upstream and work with them until a fix is done, which can then be merged into our kernel. In the former case, once our fix is acknowledged by the upstream maintainers and committed to their git tree, we can then merge it into our n+1 kernel and update the current release via the Stable Release Update (SRU) process.

It’s not unusual to find that issues found in OEM projects have already been resolved in the latest code branches. We will usually verify if they have already been fixed in mainline or the n+1 kernel, and if they have, we will identify the related patches and provide them to the OEM team, and also backport them as SRU’s to the current release. The diagram below shows two cases of such scenario.

We aim to certify any OEM project (e.g. based on 11.10) with the next release of standard Ubuntu (e.g 12.04). 

For more information on how we engage with OEM/ODMs please visit odm.ubuntu.com

 

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Gerry Carr

The Ubuntu Server Survey is finally ready to be published it makes for a fascinating read. It is the third survey of its kind and again it has been an overwhelming response with over 6,000 completed surveys throughout 2011 and a heartfelt thanks to all who took the time to complete the comprehensive survey.

The overwhelming impression is the widespread use of Ubuntu both geographically as you might expect with respondents from across the globe. but also in the broad range of workloads in which Ubuntu Server finds itself used. Every category from web and data servers to cloud shows up strongly albeit with a strong bias towards traditional workloads.

As we approach an LTS, again we see evidence of the popularity of the extended support releases. Given we have run this survey three times now over the past three years now we begin to see strong evidence of the switching from one LTS to the next, particularly as the deployment platform, so our user base is certainly staying with us as as we introduce new features and support them in the long term.

Virtualization and cloud are now key elements of Ubuntu use, and for the first time we see KVM overtake Xen as the preferred virtualization technology for Ubuntu users, significant as the platform was the first to make the switch to supporting KVM as the native technology. With that though, VMWare remains the most cited virtualization technology showing a healthy mixture of open source and other technologies at use in the Ubuntu user base.

The respondents consideration of cloud makes for interesting reading too. There is significant interest but the use of Ubuntu Server on bare metal remains the primary use case for most users today. There is strong recognition though of the emergence of this powerful technology and with the plans for ease of installation and orchestration in 12.04 LTS it will be interesting to see how this moves the dial in regards to uptake in the Ubuntu base. A deeper analysis  shows a bias towards larger companies (i.e. respondents with more servers) using cloud technologies which is to be expected and overwhelmingly there is recognition of the suitability of Ubuntu Cloud as a basis for those efforts.

Enjoy the full report, it would be very interesting to hear your comments.

 

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Victor Tuson Palau

The Ubuntu Certification Website has just got better. We have roll-out improvements to how we list systems and provided a powerful search feature. We want to ensure that you get as quick as possible to the information that you need.

As part of the Certification website, we provide a feedback mechanism through Launchpad Answers. Over the last year, we have seen a trend of questions around:

  • Most models are sold with different graphics cards , processors… so which one is the one listed as certified?
  • Does the system listed as certified works with a version of Ubuntu that I can download from Ubuntu.com? Or only with the one that the manufacturer sales?
  • What release is this model certified for?

To address these questions, we have introduced some changes to the website. We now display what components are included on the certified system in the search results. We’ve also added a icon to indicate if the system is only certified with a vendor image or with the standard Ubuntu image.

The new and simpler search interface eliminates confusion on what data is presented. A small filter box has been added to the website allowing  users to select the device type, Ubuntu release and image type that they are interested in.

If you have any comments on the new website design, I would really like to hear from you!


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Victor Tuson Palau

Introducing odm.ubuntu.com

Coinciding with the 2011 Ubuntu Hardware Summit, we are launching a new portal aimed to help engineers at device manufacturers shipping Ubuntu systems: odm.ubuntu.com

The Ubuntu community is great. It provides users and developers with lots and lots of useful information. This means that sometimes finding the right informationfor you can take a bit longer than expected.

The odm.ubuntu.com portal content is a selection of the best articles in the Ubuntu community sites that are relevant to device manufacturers (OEM and ODMs) engineers. The content has been selected by the Canonical Hardware Enablement team and builds on the good work of the Ubuntu Kernel team.

We will continue to add and improve the content of the portal over the coming months, including news on tools and techniques to help you better integrate Ubuntu with your hardware. Please let us know if there is specific content you would like to see there.

 

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Victor Tuson Palau

Last month Steven Sinofsky from Microsoft announced new requirements for manufacturers wanting to ship Windows 8 systems, including a feature called “Secure Boot”.

Canonical, together with Red Hat, today publishes a white paper highlighting the implications of these requirements for users and manufacturers. The paper also provides recommendations on how to implement “Secure Boot”, to ensure that users remain in control of their PCs.

UEFI is a good step forward
How much do you know about the BIOS running on your laptop today? Sure, you probably have frantically pressed F12 at some point to try the latest Ubuntu from a CD or USB stick. Beyond that, BIOS doesn’t often get much attention.  The thing is: BIOS is evolving, and all thanks to the UEFI Specifications.

The UEFI Forum, of which Canonical is a member, is defining the next generation interface between your system’s firmware and any operating system that runs on it. The new specs will make Ubuntu systems boot quicker, have a better battery life and are easier to configure.

The latest UEFI specification also defines a process called Secure Boot (version 2.3.1 – Chapter 27). Secure Boot is designed to address the potential for malware to insert itself between the firmware and the operating system on your computer. It accomplishes this by enforcing that only “approved” software is able to boot in your computer by way of a key that recognises pre-approved and signed software.

According to Microsoft’s presentation at //BUILD/2011, Secure Boot will be “Required for Windows 8 client”. While the UEFI specification does not recommend a specific implementation, Microsoft has a preferred solution (outlined on this blog post) which does not give the user full control over what software that is approved to run on their PC. This is the real issue for users.

Secure Boot should be available to all users
Canonical successfully partners with computer manufacturers to ship millions of  Ubuntu pre-installed systems every year. While this distribution will continue to thrive, we are concerned for users wanting to install any Linux distribution on a PC sold with Secure Boot “ON”.

Any new Windows 8 PC will have Secure Boot switched “ON” when it leaves the shop and will be able to boot Microsoft approved software only. However, you will most likely find that your new PC has no option for you to add your own list of approved software. So to install Linux (or any other operating system), you will need to turn Secure Boot “OFF”.

However, we believe that you have the right to have your cake and eat it too!  Its possible to have Secure Boot and the ability to choose your software platform.

This is why we recommend that systems manufacturers include a mechanism for configuring your own list of approved software. This will allow you to run Windows 8 and Linux at the same time in your PC with Secure Boot “ON”. This should also include you being able to try new software from a USB stick or DVD.

Even with the ability for users to configure Secure Boot, it will become harder for non-techie users to install, or even try, any other operating system besides the one that was loaded on the PC when you bought it. For this reason, we recommend that  PCs include a User Interface to easily enable or disable Secure Boot and allow the user to chose to change their operating system.

Canonical has discussed these concerns with key industry partners and competitors, resulting in the “Secure Boot Impact on Linux” White Paper, authored by Jeremy Kerr (Technical Architect at Canonical), James Bottomley (Kernel Developer) and Matthew Garret (Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat).

I recommend you read this document to gain a better understanding on how Secure Boot will affect you. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure you still get to choose what runs on your PC!

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Matt Zimmerman

I joined Canonical in June of 2004 as a member of the founding team, before we even had a name for the company. In June 2011, after just over seven years as Ubuntu CTO, I will be leaving Canonical in search of new challenges.

It has been my privilege to have played a part in creating Ubuntu and Canonical. It has been a pleasure to work with so many talented, dedicated and fun people over the years. I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished together: bringing free software to people, places and organizations which have derived so much benefit from it.

The Ubuntu engineering organization, which we call Platform, is a highly capable and motivated team, the best I’ve ever worked with in my career. Building and leading this team has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I have every confidence in their ability to support Canonical’s mission in the years to come, and I’m excited to see how they will surprise me in the future.

Seven years on, the time is right for me to move on from this role, where I enjoy so much support from my colleagues, and take a risk on something new. I will take with me many fond memories, from all-night global hacking sessions driving toward a ship date, to casual singing and playing music at our many face-to-face events. I intend to remain involved in the Ubuntu community, retaining my elected position on the governing Technical Board, and perhaps to make the occasional technical contribution as a volunteer.

I will be spending the next week in Budapest at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, where I look forward to celebrating with friends and colleagues, and beginning the transition to this new role in the project. I wish the best for all of my Canonical friends in the future!

Matt

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Neil Levine

We made a small flurry of announcements last week, all of which were related to cloud computing. I think it is worthwhile to put some context around Ubuntu and the cloud and explain a little more about where we are with this critical strategic strand for our beloved OS.

First of all, the announcements. We announced the release of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud on Dell servers. This is a hugely significant advance in the realm of internal cloud provision. It’s essentially formalising a lot of the bespoke work that Dell has done in huge data centres (based on a variety of OSes) and making similar technology available for smaller deployments. We attended the Dell sales summit in Las Vegas and we were very encouraged to meet with many of the Dell salespeople whose job it will be to deliver this to their customers. This is a big company, backing a leading technology and encouraging businesses to start their investigations of cloud computing in a very real way.

More or less simultaneously, we announced our formal support for the OpenStack project and the inclusion of their Bexar release in our next version of Ubuntu, 11.04. This will be in addition to Eucalyptus, it is worth stating. Eucalyptus is the technology at the core of UEC – and will be in Ubuntu 11.04 – as it has been since 9.04. Including two stacks has caused some raised eyebrows but it is not an unusual position for Ubuntu. While we look to pick one technology for integration into the platform in order to deliver the best user experience possible, we also want to make sure that users have access to the best and most up to date free and open-source software. The increasing speed of innovation that cloud computing is driving has meant that Ubuntu, with its 6 month release cadence, is able to deliver the tools and programs that developers and admins want before any other operating system.

Users will ultimately decide what deployment scenarios each stack best suits. Eucalyptus certainly has the advantage of maturity right now, especially for internal cloud deployments. OpenStack, meanwhile, continue to focus on rapid feature development and, given its heritage, has appeal to service providers looking to stand up their own public clouds. Wherever the technology is deployed, be it in the enterprise or for public clouds, we want Ubuntu to be the underlying infrastructure for all the scenarios and will continue to direct our platform team to deliver the most tightly integrated solution possible.

Finally we saw our partner Autonomic Resources announce UEC is now available for purchase by Federal US government buyers. This is the first step on a long road the federal deployment, as anyone familiar with the governmental buying cycles will realise. But it is a good example of the built-to-purpose cloud environments that we will see more of – with the common denominator of Ubuntu at the core of it.

Which actually raises an interesting question – why is it that Ubuntu is at the heart of cloud computing? Perhaps we ought to look at more evidence before the theory. In addition to being the OS at the heart of new cloud infrastructures, we are seeing enormous usage of Ubuntu as the guest OS on the big public clouds, such as AWS and Rackspace, for instance. It is probably the most popular OS on those environments and others – contact your vendor to confirm :-)

So why is this OS that most incumbent vendors would dismiss as fringe, seeing such popularity in this new(ish) wave of computing? Well there are a host of technical reasons to do with modularity, footprint, image maintenance etc. But they are better expressed by others.

I think the reason for Ubuntu’s prominence is because it is innovation made easy. Getting on and doing things on Ubuntu is a friction-free experience. We meet more and more tech entrepreneurs who tell us how they have built more than one business on Ubuntu on the cloud. Removing licence costs and restrictions allows people to get to the market quickly.

But beyond speed, it is also about reducing risk. With open-source now firmly established in the IT industry, and with the term open used so promiscuously, it is easy to forget that the economic benefits of truly free, open-source software. The combination of cloud computing, where scale matters, and open source is a natural one and this is why Ubuntu is the answer for those who need the reassurance that they can both scale quickly but also avoid vendor lock-in in the long-term.

More specifically, and this brings us back to the announcements, there are now clear scenarios where users can reach a point where even the economics of a licence-free software on a public cloud start to break down. At a certain stage it is simply cheaper to make the hardware investment to run your own cloud infrastructure. Or there might be regulatory, cultural or a host of other reasons for wanting cloud-like efficiencies built on internal servers.

The work we have done with OpenStack and with Eucalyptus means Ubuntu is an ideal infrastructure on which to build a cloud. This will typically be for the internal provision of a cloud environment but equally could be the basis or a new public cloud. It is entirely open as to the type of guest OS and in all cases continues to support the dominant API of Amazon EC2, ensuring portability for those writing applications.

And as we have seen, Ubuntu is the ultimate OS to deploy in a cloud and with which to build a cloud. No-one provides more up-to-date images on the most popular public cloud platforms. Our work to ensure compatibility to the most popular standards means that those guests will run just as well on a UEC cloud however that is deployed – either internally or for cloud provision externally.

So technology moves markets. Economics does too, only more so. Ubuntu has come at the right point in our short IT history to ride both waves. The scale is there, the standards are emerging and the ability to provide an answer to the choice between running a cloud or running on a cloud is more fully realised on Ubuntu than on any other OS – open source or not.

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Mark Murphy

The well-earned accolade that it ‘just works’ is one of the reasons that Ubuntu has been propelled to the position of the most widely shipped and installed Linux desktop. Behind that accolade are an army of community and professional developers working closely towards the goal of offering a superb quality desktop experience.

For many planners and users in the corporate enterprise the mark of quality is that products are fully tested and then certified. Only when fully backed and supported by Canonical would they consider use within their companies. You can find the growing list of these certified devices at

http://webapps.ubuntu.com/certification

Over the past few years Canonical has been working closely with a number of PC vendors to evaluate, test and certify a range of products in the desktop arena. More recently we’ve been closely collaborating with HP to certify a wide range of desktop products. Today we have published a representative range of 11 certified desktop models, with more to come over the next few weeks and months. You can see the current list here

http://webapps.ubuntu.com/certification/make/HP/desktops/

Starting with these 11 desktop models is a great step and I would like to thank the team at HP for their cooperation, at the same time calling out the work of our unsung heroes in Victor Palau’s Canonical certification team.

Mark Murphy, Global Alliances Director

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Gerry Carr

A few months ago we took on the challenge of building a version of Ubuntu for the dual-boot, instant-on market. We wanted to be surfing the web in under 10 seconds, and give people a fantastic web experience. We also wanted it to be possible to upgrade from that limited usage model to a full desktop.

The fruit of that R&D is both a new desktop experience codebase, called Unity, and a range of Light versions of Ubuntu, both netbook and desktop, that are optimised for dual-boot scenarios.

The dual-boot, web-focused use case is sufficiently different from general-purpose desktop usage to warrant a fresh look at the way the desktop is configured. We spent quite a bit of time analyzing screenshots of a couple of hundred different desktop configurations from the current Ubuntu and Kubuntu user base, to see what people used most. We also identified the things that are NOT needed in lightweight dual-boot instant-on offerings. That provided us both with a list of things to focus on and make rich, and a list of things we could leave out.

Instant-on products are generally used in a stateless fashion. These are “get me to the web asap” environments, with no need of heavy local file management. If there is content there, it would be best to think of it as “cloud like” and synchronize it with the local Windows environment, with cloud services and other devices. They are also not environments where people would naturally expect to use a wide range of applications: the web is the key, and there may be a few complementary capabilities like media playback, messaging, games, and the ability to connect to local devices like printers and cameras and pluggable media.

Unity: a lightweight netbook interface

There are several driving forces behind the result.

The desktop screenshots we studied showed that people typically have between 3 and 10 launchers on their panels, for rapid access to key applications. We want to preserve that sense of having a few favorite applications that are instantly accessible. Rather than making it equally easy to access any installed application, we assume that almost everybody will run one of a few apps, and they need to switch between those apps and any others which might be running, very easily.

We focused on maximising screen real estate for content. In particular, we focused on maximising the available vertical pixels for web browsing. Netbooks have screens which are wide, but shallow. Notebooks in general are moving to wide screen formats. So vertical space is more precious than horizontal space.

We also want to embrace touch as a first class input. We want people to be able to launch and switch between applications using touch, so the launcher must be finger friendly.

Those constraints and values lead us to a new shape for the desktop, which we will adopt in Ubuntu’s Netbook Edition for 10.10 and beyond.

First, we want to move the bottom panel to the left of the screen, and devote that to launching and switching between applications. That frees up vertical space for web content, at the cost of horizontal space, which is cheaper in a widescreen world. In Ubuntu today the bottom panel also presents the Trash and Show Desktop options, neither of which is relevant in a stateless instant-on environment.

Second, we’ll expand that left-hand launcher panel so that it is touch-friendly. With relatively few applications required for instant-on environments, we can afford to be more generous with the icon size there. The Unity launcher will show what’s running, and support fast switching and drag-and-drop between applications.

Third, we will make the top panel smarter. We’ve already talked about adopting a single global menu, which would be rendered by the panel in this case. If we can also manage to fit the window title and controls into that panel, we will have achieved very significant space saving for the case where someone is focused on a single application at a time, and especially for a web browser.

We end up with a configuration like this:

Unity Screenshot

Unity Screenshot

The launcher and panel that we developed in response to this challenge are components of Unity. They are now in a state where they can be tested widely, and where we can use that testing to shape their evolution going forward. A development milestone of Unity is available today in a PPA, with development branches on Launchpad, and I’d very much like to get feedback from people trying it out on a netbook, or even a laptop with a wide screen. Unity is aimed at full screen applications and, as I described above, doesn’t really support traditional file management. But it’s worth a spin, and it’s very easy to try out if you have Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installed already.

Ubuntu Light

Instant-on, dual boot installations are a new frontier for us. Over the past two years we have made great leaps forward as a first class option for PC OEM’s, who today ship millions of PC’s around the world with Ubuntu pre-installed. But traditionally, it’s been an “either/or” proposition – either Windows in markets that prefer it, or Ubuntu in markets that don’t. The dual-boot opportunity gives us the chance to put a free software foot forward even in markets where people use Windows as a matter of course.

And it looks beautiful:

Ubuntu Light, showing the Unity launcher and panel

Ubuntu Light Screenshot

In those cases, Ubuntu Netbook Light, or Ubuntu Desktop Light, will give OEM’s the ability to differentiate themselves with fast-booting Linux offerings that are familiar to Ubuntu users and easy to use for new users, safe for web browsing in unprotected environments like airports and hotels, focused on doing that job very well, but upgradeable with a huge list of applications, on demand. The Light versions will also benefit from the huge amount of work done on every Ubuntu release to keep it maintained – instant-on environments need just as much protection as everyday desktops, and Ubuntu has a deep commitment to getting that right.

The Ubuntu Light range is available to OEM’s today. Each image will be hand-crafted to boot fastest on that specific hardware, the application load reduced to the minimum, and it comes with tools for Windows which assist in the management of the dual-boot experience. Initially, the focus is on the Netbook Light version based on Unity, but in future we expect to do a Light version of the desktop, too.

Given the requirement to customise the Light versions for specific hardware, there won’t be a general-purpose downloadable image of Ubuntu Light on ubuntu.com.

Evolving Unity for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10

Unity exists today, and is great for the minimalist, stateless configurations that suit a dual-boot environment. But in order embrace it for our Netbook UI, we’ll need to design some new capabilities, and implement them during this cycle.

Those design conversations are taking place this week at UDS, just outside Brussels in Belgium. If you can’t be there in person, and are interested in the design challenges Unity presents for the netbook form factor, check out the conference schedule and participate in the discussion virtually.

The two primary pieces we need to put in place are:

  • Support for many more applications, and adding / removing applications. Instant-on environments are locked down, while netbook environments should support anybody’s applications, not just those favored in the Launcher.
  • Support for file management, necessary for an environment that will be the primary working space for the user rather than an occasional web-focused stopover.

We have an initial starting point for the design, called the Dash, which presents files and applications as an overlay. The inspiration for the Dash comes from consoles and devices, which use full-screen, media-rich presentation. We want the Dash to feel device-like, and use the capabilities of modern hardware.

The Unity Dash, showing the Applications Place

The Unity Dash, showing the Applications Place

The instant-on requirements and constraints proved very useful in shaping our thinking, but the canvas is still blank for the more general, netbook use case. Unity gives us the chance to do something profoundly new and more useful, taking advantage of ideas that have emerged in computing from the console to the handheld.

Relationship to Gnome Shell

Unity and Gnome Shell are complementary for the Gnome Project. While Gnome Shell presents an expansive view of how people work in complex environments with multiple simultaneous activities, Unity is designed to address the other end of the spectrum, where people are focused on doing one thing at any given time.

Unity does embrace the key technologies of Gnome 3: Mutter, for window management, and Zeitgeist will be an anchor component of our file management approach. The interface itself is built in Clutter.

The design seed of Unity was in place before Gnome Shell, and we decided to build on that for the instant-on work rather than adopt Gnome Shell because most of the devices we expect to ship Ubuntu Light on are netbooks. In any event, Unity represents the next step for the Ubuntu Netbook UI, optimised for small screens.

The Ubuntu Netbook interface is popular with Gnome users and we’re fortunate to be working inside an open ecosystem that encourages that level of diversity. As a result, Gnome has offerings for mobile, netbook and desktop form factors. Gnome is in the lucky position of having multiple vendors participating and solving different challenges independently. That makes Gnome stronger.

Relationship to FreeDesktop and KDE

Unity complies with freedesktop.org standards, and is helping to shape them, too. We would like KDE applications to feel welcome on a Unity-based netbook. We’re using the Ayatana indicators in the panel, so KDE applications which use AppIndicators will Just Work. And to the extent that those applications take advantage of the Messaging Menu, Sound Indicator and Me Menu, they will be fully integrated into the Unity environment. We often get asked by OEM’s how they can integrate KDE applications into their custom builds of Ubuntu, and the common frameworks of freedesktop.org greatly facilitate doing so in a smooth fashion.

Looking forward to the Maverick Meerkat

It will be an intense cycle, if we want to get all of these pieces in line. But we think it’s achievable: the new launcher, the new panel, the new implementation of the global menu and an array of indicators. Things have accelerated greatly during Lucid so if we continue at this pace, it should all come together. Here’s to a great summer of code.

Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical

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Canonical

Earlier this year, MuleSoft approached us with the desire to partner and offer to work with Canonical to improve our default java container, Tomcat, for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server. The idea was to make Tomcat on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS easier to download, install, and configure on Ubuntu than JBOSS is on RHEL. The Ubuntu Server engineering team worked with Mulesoft engineering to update Tomcat upstream and those updates were pulled into Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. We are now pleased to announce that the Apache Tomcat package for Ubuntu has been updated and refreshed to the latest Apache release (6.0.26). The team over at MuleSoft has also taken on the task of cleaning up a lot of the utilities, as well as bug fixes that improve the configuration process for starting Tomcat. To see the technical details, you can read Jason Brittain’s blog.

Mulesoft is a great example of our ISV community stepping up with key community contributions. With Ubuntu being community driven, Mulesoft worked closely with Ubuntu Server engineering to bring the Tomcat packages up to the latest release and pushed those changes upstream. Contributions from the community are key to the success of Ubuntu. MuleSoft also provides enterprise class support for running Apache Tomcat on Ubuntu Server in mission-critical deployments.

If you use Tomcat and have servers running in test or production, check out MuleSoft’s add-on product for Tomcat, called Tcat Server . Mulesoft’s Tcat server adds remote diagnostics, version controlled deployments, Tomcat clustering, and clustered restarts to Apache Tomcat deployments. In addition, the management server has a REST API for extending via scripting, or hooking it into your overall systems management interfaces. Tcat Server is free to use in development and is available at no incremental cost to MuleSoft’s Tomcat support service offering.

Tcat Server is available from Mulesoft

John Pugh, ISV Channel Manager

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admin

On Wednesday Dell announced a comprehensive overview of its enterprise strategy. Significant in its announcement, was the addition of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) as an infrastructure solution, joining the proprietary offerings from VMWare and Microsoft. This is the first major offering of a true open source Cloud solution backed by a major corporate vendor.

Dell will offer a series of ‘blueprint’ configurations that have been optimised for different use cases  and scale. These will include PowerEdge-C hardware, UEC software and full technical support – you will be able to buy these straight from Dell or you can use the ‘blueprints’ as a base to create your own bespoke solution. The Dell team have great strength and experience here and will provide detailed guidance on all the ‘blueprint’ solutions, as well as enterprise class deployments.

Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud leads the Linux field with integration of cloud capabilities directly into the OS. UEC is based on Eucalyptus which builds on the de facto cloud API standards of Amazon EC2 and S3. The relationship between Canonical and Eucalyptus Systems ensures that you have one escalation path to resolve any issues with the OS or the cloud service. Offering the same APIs as the dominant public cloud offering, Amazon EC2, you can build your applications to run on either platform. The Dell solution will be based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS – which is released on April 29th.

Behind the scenes we’ve worked with Dell’s DCS team for over six months to test and validate the integration of the cloud stack on their new PowerEdge-C series. Within the industry, the DCS team has an excellent reputation for full design, integration, installation anddeployment. It has been both challenging and exciting working to meet and exceed their expectations, a result of excellent cooperation between the Dell core team, our Cloud & Server team and Eucalyptus.

Mark Murphy, Global Alliances Director

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Gerry Carr

The Ubuntu Server Team wants to know how you use Ubuntu Server Edition in day-to-day operations to help the team prioritize the support and development of the product.  This is the second edition of this initiative which was first introduced in 2008.

In an effort to better understand, support and further the Ubuntu Server Edition we would like to ask you to take this survey which should take between 15 to 30 minutes to complete. The information provided will help us determine where we can improve support, where to add additional resources and to generate a better understanding of the community which we work within.

Please note that this survey is being conducted by the Ubuntu Server Team community together with the Canonical Product Management. Information about the team is available at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ServerTeam/

To take the survey, please go to http://survey.ubuntu.com/

Thanks

Nick Barcet, Ubuntu Server Edition product manager

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