Canonical, the commercial entity behind the Ubuntu distribution of Debian Linux, is going to make it easier for people to consume its operating system.
Gerry Carr, director of platform marketing at Canonical, says in a blog post that beginning with the "Natty Narwhal" release in April, the company is going back to the way it did things ahead of its server launch, with a single release for any kind of PC. That new release will be called simply Ubuntu 11.04, and the server edition will be called Ubuntu Server 11.04.
Back in 2005, when Canonical was first getting some serious traction with Ubuntu on servers, it split off a special Server Edition with its own variant of the Linux stack and testing and certification regimen, leaving the non-server version to be called Desktop Edition. For the past several releases there has also been a Netbook Edition, and according to Carr, people kept looking for something called Laptop Edition because they had neither a netbook or a desktop.
But more importantly, with the advent of mobile end user devices of many shapes and sizes, Carr says that "desktops are no longer the pre-eminent client platform" and that "actually naming the ‘edition’ after any target technology is going to have us chasing the trend. Also we were tying ourselves to some ungainly product titles - Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Server Edition for instance."
So, from here on out, it is Ubuntu Server for something that sits in a data center and Ubuntu for when it runs on anything else outside the glass house. And you won't have to spend time looking around for something call Ubuntu Desktop Edition for Notebooks.
Presumably the company is going to keep the special Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud roll up, which marries the cloud framework from Eucalyptus Systems with Ubuntu and Canonical's Landscape system management tools to create an Amazon EC2-alike compute cloud based on KVM hypervisors and supporting the EC2 APIs.
Canonical is, by the way, keeping the concept of remixes of different bits of the Ubuntu stack for community products. So if you want to go out there and create your own spin called Ubuntu Remix for VIA Mini-ITX Clusters, feel free to play.
The interesting question, of course, is will there be a place for Ubuntu Tablet Edition? (Even though it would not be called that, now.) It would seem that Apple's iOS and Google's Android Honeycomb will have the fondleslab market all tied up before too long. There have been rumors, of course, that Ubuntu will indeed make its way onto tablet PCs based on Intel's Atom chips.
Canonical owner and Ubuntu project founder Mark Shuttleworth told El Reg last June that he didn't believe " anyone's going to ship a compelling Windows tablet" and that he also didn't believe "believe any of the other Linux or Android options will be that great."
Moreover, Shuttleworth said that the PC volumes would still overwhelm tablet volumes in the near term, and that should companies want to put Ubuntu on a tablet, they could take the core bits of the stack - the kernel, user interface, and other key bits - and slap it on a slab. ®