A year that started with radical and controversial changes to prepare Ubuntu for touch-based consumer computing is finishing up with a big push into the cloud on servers.
The Ubuntu community has released the first beta of Ubuntu 11.10, codenamed Oneiric Ocelot and expected as finished code for download in October. The beta bulks up on the deployment and management of clouds and cloud-based workloads running Ubuntu Linux on server hardware.
The beta of Ubuntu Server includes Orchestra – which allows you to provision, deploy, host, manage and orchestrate enterprise data centre infrastructure services.
According to one developer, OpenStack is Orchestra's "foremost (but not only) workload". Orchestra features separate servers for provisioning, management, monitoring and logging of applications, servers and workloads.
Orchestra, meanwhile, is tightly integrated with the Ocelot beta's other big push towards clustered servers running Ubuntu Linux as a cloud platform: Ubuntu Ensemble, which is designed to handle service deployment and orchestration for cloud and on "bare metal".
It's billed as something that will bring "devops" to clouds and datacentres running Ubuntu. Devops is the voguish term for trying to bridge the gap between the development and management of applications that was once called application lifecycle management by marketing types. Ensemble provides a set of best practices and formulas – we're told – to help ensure that apps running on a server will operate in the same way once in the cloud. In this case, the cloud in question would be an Amazon-compatible service.
Ubuntu 11.10 is due to hit a second beta on 22 September and final release on 13 October.
Whatever happens in this edition, however, it's a relative sideshow compared to the overhaul of the interface in April with Ubuntu 11.04 that demoted Gnome; and compared to next year's main event, Ubuntu 12.04, due on 26 April.
Ubuntu 12.04 will be a Long-Term-Support (LTS) edition meaning it sets the look, feel and technical direction of successive versions for the next two-year period. The last LTS was 10.04 in April 2010, which saw Canonical chief Mark Shuttleworth's Apple love manifest itself through Ubuntu's current OS-X-like interface and through the integration of the PC distro with online music and backup services provided for Ubuntu users by Canonical. ®