Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'ubuntu'

Gerry Carr

Canonical over the last four years or so has brought businesses a growing range of services and software tools to help them make better use of the Ubuntu platform. Many of these services, such as Landscape systems management and technical support, have proven valuable for companies that want to more easily manage and maintain Ubuntu in their business.

Rather than having to decide which tools or services are useful, we decided to make things simple by bringing together all the necessary tools and services into a single offering, Ubuntu Advantage.

Ubuntu Advantage has four service components:

* systems management

* enterprise technical support

* legal assurance

* access to knowledge base

At Canonical, we believe these are they key service areas that help enterprises make successful use of Ubuntu in their business. As new technology features and capabilities are incorporated into the Ubuntu platform, the Ubuntu Advantage service offering will also grow to support those new platform capabilities.

The systems management service category offers Canonical’s Landscape systems management and monitoring tool. Within any enterprise it is crucial for IT departments to have the necessary systems management tool to avoid having to spend copious amounts of time managing and maintaining systems with patches and security upgrades. Although, these tasks are vital for enterprise systems to remain safe, they can also be tedious and unnecessarily time consuming without the right tools. The package management and automation features of Landscape help to remove much of this manual work.

Ubuntu Advantage includes enterprise-level technical support for the desktop and server to give businesses direct backing from the source of Ubuntu, Canonical. This is a valuable service because businesses can deploy Ubuntu with a greater sense of security; should they run into any problems, they have the support from the organisation which released it.

Our aim is to provide comprehensive support, but we also want to give customers flexibility with the type of service they receive as we recognise that different machines will run different workloads and need different levels of support. On the server there are three options ranging from support for basic server workloads to the most complex setups:

* Essential Server – to cover common workloads such as file and print serving

* Standard Server – for more advanced business needs like server virtualisation and integration into existing Windows networks

* Advanced Server – to cover complex configurations such as high-availability and clustering

On the desktop there were two main usage types we want to cover, general business use and developer use:

* Standard Desktop – covers general end users using standard business applications such as email, office suites and web browsing

* Advanced Desktop – covers developers that have more complex desktop configurations, such as desktop virtualisation, and use advanced developer tools

A major aim of Ubuntu Advantage is to ease the adoption of Ubuntu by providing quick and easy access to a definitive answers. The online Knowledge Base gives customers a central repository from which they can quickly reference at any time definitive guides on how to resolve common issues or information about best practices deployments. Canonical’s support engineers create the content in the knowledge base keeping it accurate and up-to-date on the latest releases.

It’s also crucial that staff using Ubuntu feel comfortable with it, because the more confident they feel the more they can take advantage of Ubuntu’s many features and the fewer problems they will come across. So we also included training credits in Ubuntu Advantage. These can be redeemed to train end users on how to make the most of Ubuntu Desktop for their daily job, or they can be redeemed for system administrator training to help them more easily deploy and manage Ubuntu systems.

We know it is important for many organisations to have legal assurance to enable the adoption of an open source platform, which is why we have also included our legal assurance programme, Ubuntu Assurance, with all Ubuntu Advantage service options.

Ubuntu Advantage provides simplicity and an easier way for businesses to purchase the necessary tools and services to manage, support and use their Ubuntu platform more effectively and efficiently. Ultimately, it saves them precious time and money that can be spent elsewhere in their businesses. Initial reception has been very positive and we look forward to getting more feedback on the new services as users become familiar with them and hopefully see the value in them.

The Ubuntu Advantage website is live at: visit http://bit.ly/cOasJ3

Fern Ho, Ubuntu Advantage Product Manager

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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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Larry Poon

The cloud is getting a lot of attention. Understandably and rightly so – it is one of the hottest topics around. An on-line panel discussion on how businesses can incorporate cloud computing into their existing datacenter operations will take place in a webinar hosted by rPath on 24 September 2009. You’ll hear from the some of the most experienced experts in the field:

Michael Crandell, Chief Executive Officer of RightScale

Erik Troan, founder and Chief Technology Officer of rPath

Dr. Rich Wolski, Chief Technology Officer of Eucalyptus Systems

Matt Zimmerman, Chief Technology Officer of Canonical

David Berlind , Chief Content Officer of TechWeb

We’re looking forward to participating on this webinar, so please join us on 24 September 2009 at 11:00 a.m. PST.

For more information and registration please go to the the rPath registration page.

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johnpugh

Next week (31 August through 3 September) VMorld 2009 kicks off in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. For the second year, Canonical has a booth to demonstrate Ubuntu’s virtualization and cloud computing capabilities.

Last year VMWorld 2008 was in sunny Las Vegas. We talked to thousands of people throughout the show, and only found a handful who hadn’t used Ubuntu – don’t worry we sent every one away with a free CD so they could put that right! It was a great show with lots of interest in Ubuntu following on from the 8.04 LTS release, and our virtualization solution.

We expect the 2009 show to be just as much fun. Ubuntu has been on the top of the VMWare charts as a base OS for many virtual machine images, so we hope that the new virtualization features coming in 9.10 will be well received. In 9.04 we previewed Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) our private or on-premises cloud. This gives anyone who has their own servers the ability to set-up a cloud similar to Amazon’s EC2.

We’ll be presenting a talk for enterprises on how cloud computing can help them at the Solution Exchange Theatre on Wednesday 2nd September at 11:50 am. Entitled “The Clear Path to a Cloudy Enterprise”, it will be given by John Pugh, one of Canonical’s Partner Managers. If you would like to hear about the future of cloud computing, how open source offers a real alternative, and how Ubuntu can be used in this scenario then this talk should be informative and fun.

If you are going to be at VMWorld then please come along to the Canonical booth (#2403) and say hello to us. We would love to talk to you about Ubuntu, how you’re using it, and how you can get more from it – see you
in San Francisco!

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kendrachnik

Today we are announcing the Landscape Dedicated Server Edition — a stand alone version of Landscape that users can install on-site giving them complete control of their Ubuntu environment. This is one of our most requested features so we modified the Hosted version of landscape, keeping all the management, auditing and monitoring features, packaging it as a software appliance you install on your systems. Now Landscape can operate locally so all your information transfers over your local network and all system configuration, policies and profiles are stored on your infrastructure.

New features available with the Dedicated Server and Hosted edition in the October release include:

  • Manage your Cloud and physical systems in one console – including server, desktop and Amazon EC2 Cloud instances.
  • Scheduled package updates – Now you can schedule package updates and machine restarts for maintenance windows or when network usage is low minimizing the impact to your users.
  • Administrator Delegation – Group your systems to meet your needs then assign permissions to different administrators enforcing work rules and enhancing security.

To be the first to know about availability of the Landscape Server, get informed about upcoming Webinars and download the brochure.

Of course we will continue to offer the Hosted version of Landscape along side the Dedicated Server giving users a choice in how they want to manage their Ubuntu systems. All the new features mentioned above are planned to be available in October when we release the next major update of Landscape and Ubuntu Karmic Koala. The Landscape Dedicated Server is available for order now, but installation will not be available until late September / early October.

Click for detailed information on Landscape, Support and our Training products and services.

Ken Drachnik, Landscape Manager

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kendrachnik

Announcing the release of Landscape 1.3 – the next version of Canonical’s management and monitoring software that lets you manage multiple Ubuntu systems as easily as one. In addition, Landscape enables you to monitor all your systems from a single Web interface reducing the complexity of managing multiple systems. The theme of 1.3 is Cloud and scalability.

Cloud Computing: EC2 Support
Landscape 1.3 introduces support for Amazon’s EC2 Cloud service. Users can now start, stop and manage their Ubuntu instances on Amazon EC2 from within Landscape.  Just enter your EC2 credentials directly through Landscape to start, stop and manage one of our pre-configured versions of Ubuntu that include the Landscape Client.  We have both 32 and 64 bit server versions available in both the US and EU regions. Once you started, you can use Landscape to manage and monitor them as you would your physical systems. Landscape saves you time by allowing you to manage your physical, virtualized and Amazon EC2 instances from one page.

New Custom Graphs
Users can now create and store trends of key system parameters allowing them to view and act on issues before they impact system performance. This gives System Administrators the flexibility of writing a script to monitor any machine readable parameter that is important to them such as temperature, memory and disk usage.

Knowledge Base
We’ve taken the experience our support engineers have gained with Landscape and created a library of articles that are now available in our knowledge base. There are hundreds or articles that you can search through that will save you time by allowing to quickly find and learn about common procedures and fixes.

The Landscape 1.3 client is available today and is included with Ubuntu 9.04 server edition (Jaunty Jackalope). Read more at the Landscape blog or get product details here

Ken Drachnik – Landscape

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