Ubuntu — an increasingly popular, Debian Linux-based operating system — just got updated by its commercial backer Canonical, giving users of the new software an improved interface, faster boot time and better security, the company said this week.
Dubbed “Edgy Eft,” Ubuntu 6.10 is freely available and carries on the operating system’s trademark usability and simple configuration, which is somewhat of a rarity for Linux.
“With Ubuntu 6.10, we’ve made improvements across the board, both on the desktop where they’re a visible part of the user experience, and in the underlying infrastructure where they improve performance and reliability for servers and desktops,” said Ubuntu Chief Technology Officer Matt Zimmerman.
Ubuntu — an African word that means “humanity to others” — has succeeded in delivering Linux in a nice-looking, simpler-to-configure package, complete with necessary applications for e-mail, office, networking and other computer applications.
Highlights of the latest version, released on Ubuntu’s regular, six-month release cycle — include new note-taking and photo management tools, as well as the latest Gnome 2.16 interface, Firefox browser, and Upstart, a new start-up manager for cleaner, faster booting, Canonical said.
“From a usability standpoint, I can only say good things,” said 451 Group Senior Analyst Nick Selby. “I think the Ubuntu development team has done simply a great job demonstrating that free software and open source software can be combined for a platform that is every bit as polished and usable as a proprietary one.”
Ubuntu also released new versions of its Kubuntu, a KDE desktop version of the platform, and Edubuntu, which is optimized for educational settings.
However, as Ubuntu makes its Linux operating system more sexy and simple by increasing services at boot or by default, the operating system runs the risk of introducing more security issues, Selby told LinuxInsider.
“The more Ubuntu tries to appeal to first-time users and people learning, the more security holes will be opened,” he said.
Stressing that much of software security centers on proper configuration, Selby said he would be watching with interest how Ubuntu handles the balance between immediate user friendliness and ensuring Ubuntu is secure.
At the same time it is looking to beef up Linux appeal for “real human beings,” Ubuntu is also pushing aggressively into the enterprise, and its latest version also includes server edition functionality that is new.
Canonical said Ubuntu 6.10 simplifies Ubuntu server deployment, and also includes a pre-release of the forthcoming Linux Terminal Server Project 5 (LTSP-5), a thin-client or blade server technology that now has automatic DHCP configuration, support for attached devices, printing and more.
“This partnership between the thin client expertise of LTSP and the desktop technology of Ubuntu has enabled a richer thin client experience for users than ever before,” said Ubuntu LTSP Project Manager Oliver Grawert.
Through a strong connection to its Linux developer and user community, Ubuntu is succeeding in delivering not only usability, but also supportability, which is critical for enterprises, Selby said.
“The user community enjoys the fact that Ubuntu is responsive to their requests,” he said. “In return, they give back.”