At the end of this month (October 29th, 2009 to be exact), Ubuntu will be releasing its newest take on the Linux operating system. This time around, it should be obvious (even to the biggest of skeptics) that Ubuntu is making some serious inroads to the business and enterprise scene.
Prior to this release, I would have said Ubuntu is the best-of-the-best Linux candidate to take over the desktop scene. It’s user friendly, easy to install, stable, secure, and (minus games) everything you would need for desktop computing. Now, however, the ante has been upped. With 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Ubuntu could well be on their way to becoming the best-of-the-best for the business desktop.
“Pshaw!” you say, old naysayer that you are. Well, before you pishposh this off to /dev/null/ you might want to take a look at a few of the new features (and improvements to old features) Ubuntu is bringing to life. Many of these new features should make it readily apparent that Canonical is planning some stealthy attack on the enterprise-level desktop. Let’s take a look at these features.
Bootup: Ubuntu has already made serious headway in the boot up process. When 9.04 was released the goal was the ever-elusive 10 second boot up time. With Ubuntu 9.10 they are inching very close to that time. The alpha release I tested had yet to reach that magic number but it’s getting close, clocking in under 20 seconds (and I was testing in a virtual environment so the installment wasn’t getting 100% of the machine resources).
Software Center: This is really one of the biggest enterprise-level additions. Gone will be the Add/Remove Software tool and (eventually) Synaptic in favor of the Software Center. Although this tool will be used in the same way as the Add/Remove Software tool, it will have one thing its predecessor didn’t have - Commercial Software. That’s right. Now the enterprise (or SMB) user can go to the Software Center and shop for just about any type of software you can imagine - including non-free, enterprise-grade software! All in one very user-friendly tool.
Ubuntu One: If you’ve used DropBox, you will know and understand the appeal of Ubuntu One. Ubuntu One is a way to sync files and folders on more than one PC. With the help of Ubuntu One you can ensure that the files on your work PC are in sync with whatever other Ubuntu PC that has Ubuntu One installed. In order to use Ubuntu One you will have to sign up for an account. You can sign up for either the free account (which gives you 2GB of space) or, for $10.00 USD per month, you can get 50GB of space.
Enterprise Cloud Images: 9.10 will include images for common usage that can be deployed by the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.
HAL Deprecation: Many users will be glad to hear this. A lot of services (especially suspend and hibernate) that had been the duty of HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) will be handed off to other controlling software (“DeviceKit-power”, “DeviceKit-disks” and “udev”). Because of this change, Suspend and Hibernate should be far more reliable out of the box.
Better Intel video support: Intel ships more video chipsets than just about any other maker. This has been a problem with Linux because of the horrible drivers offered. That is changing with the release of Ubuntu 9.10. The Intel drivers are switching from a much less reliable EXA driver to a far superior UXA 2D acceleration technology developed by Intel. Since so many business-class machines ship with on-board Intel video chipsets, this should make video issues with Linux a thing of the past (with regards to Intel that is).
ext4: The ext4 file system will now be the default for Ubuntu. The ext4 file system has proven (since 9.04) to be very reliable and far faster than ext3.
Apparmor: The Apparmor tool is getting some new profiles and features. One of the new features is a new parser that uses cache files to speed up initialization. Apparmor will also include a new feature (”PUX”) which will allow a process to transition to a profile or run without a profile. New profiles have also been added to the tool, extending its strength and flexibility.
Non eXecutable Emulation: Not many people know about this feature. There are certain CPUs that offer the NX feature which allows certain areas of memory to be reserved for either processor instructions or data. This allows portions of the CPU memory to be marked as non-executable. With Ubuntu 9.10 the kernel will allow this feature even if you do not have a CPU with the NX feature. This will greatly enhance protection from malicious software and/or buffer overflow attacks.
Are these new features enough to help Ubuntu into the corporate world?
The list above is just the icing on the cake. Add to that all of the great features brought to life with 9.04 and you should easily see how Ubuntu is positioning itself to take on the SMB and Enterprise space.
I know there are a ton of naysayers out there, but I will go on record as saying it is no longer an “if” but a “when” that Ubuntu will lead the Linux charge onto the corporate desktop. It will be a reality, if not with 9.10 then with 10.04 or 10.10.