Mark Shuttleworth, founder of the Ubuntu project, has christened the next iteration of its Linux distro. It's called the Karmic Koala, and he says that the future release, due in October as Ubuntu 9.10, will have features that allow companies to build their own compute clouds.
The announcement of the future release was posted to the Ubuntu development list, as is traditional, and Shuttleworth gave a sneak peak at a few upcoming features.
On the server front, the support for cloud computing is going to be one of the key features in the Karmic Koala release. "A good Koala knows how to see the wood for the trees, even when her head is in the clouds," Shuttleworth said in the list posting.
"Ubuntu aims to keep free software at the forefront of cloud computing by embracing the APIs of Amazon EC2 and making it easy for anybody to setup their own cloud using entirely open tools. We're currently in beta with official Ubuntu base AMIs for use on Amazon EC2. During the Karmic cycle we want to make it easy to deploy applications into the cloud, with ready-to-run appliances or by quickly assembling a custom image."
AMI is short for Amazon Machine Image, and it is basically a rev of an operating system and software stack that can be deployed atop the Xen hypervisor used by Amazon for the EC2 cloud and its related storage services.
Ubuntu 9.10 is not only going to make it easier to deploy Ubuntu on the Amazon EC2 cloud, but will also tap a set of open source cloud management tools, appropriately called Eucalyptus, that are being developed at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
"It's no coincidence that Eucalyptus has just been uploaded to universe and will be part of Jaunty - during the Karmic cycle we expect to make those clouds dance, with dynamically growing and shrinking resource allocations depending on your needs," Shuttleworth explained.
"A savvy Koala knows that the best way to conserve energy is to go to sleep, and these days even servers can suspend and resume, so imagine if we could make it possible to build a cloud computing facility that drops its energy use virtually to zero by napping in the midday heat, and waking up when there's work to be done. No need to drink at the energy fountain when there's nothing going on. If we get all of this right, our Koala will help take the edge off the bear market."
Which sounds more like a bedtime story than release notes, but then again, these aren't release notes. Jaunty, of course, refers to the impending "Jaunty Jackalope" Ubuntu 9.04 release, of which the fourth alpha release came out on February 5. Ubuntu 9.04 is expected to be ready for production on April 22.
Shuttleworth admitted to that his cloud speak sounded "open" and "nebulous," and he said that the feature set for clouding computing for Ubuntu 9.10 would be hammered out the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Barcelona, which runs from May 25 through 29.
The Eucalyptus project is actually an acronym that stands for Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for Linking Your Programs To Useful Systems, which explains why UCSB should be banned from naming anything for at least five years.
The university has set up a public cloud that lets people kick it around, and the project seeks to create an open - and open source - framework that will manage private clouds (like the ones Shuttleworth wants people to build using Ubuntu) and slices of public ones like Amazon's EC2 in a seamless and transparent manner. You can read more about the project here (PDF).
As for the desktop variant, the Ubuntu team is trying to get Linux to boot faster and will continue in these efforts with Ubuntu 9.10. Shuttleworth said that the goal is to get a netbook running Januty to boot up in 25 seconds, and he wants to improve upon this with the Koala desktop. He added that the Ubuntu MID Edition would include all the latest enhancements from the Moblin project, which is an Intel-sponsored project that has created a variant of Linux optimized for netbooks and other mobile Internet devices (that's the MID part) based on Intel's own Atom processors. ®