Canonical's love-in with Microsoft has continued apace with the arrival of Ubuntu 21.04, replete with Active Directory integration. Optimisations for Microsoft's SQL Server are also inbound.
As if to ram the point home, Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said: "Native Active Directory integration and certified Microsoft SQL Server on Ubuntu are top priorities for our enterprise customers."
What those beloved enterprises will make of something called "Hirsute Hippo" is anyone's guess and, since 21.04 is not a Long Term Support (LTS) emission, we're not sure how many corporates will be lining up. Last year's 20.04 LTS will likely reign supreme until next year's 22.04 emerges.
Recognising that not everybody will leap into the latest and greatest, the tweaks in support of SQL Server have been backported to 20.04 and performance enhancements include Force Unit Access (FUA) on XFS filesystems for data durability. "The entire platform is highly available, backed by Corosync and Pacemaker, to ensure resilience," said Canonical.
It's also further evidence of the company's willingness to buddy up with former Linux loather Microsoft (which has had its own penguin moment with the recent update to the Windows Subsystem for Linux to allow GUI Linux apps to run without the manual X Server lash-ups of old).
While shovelling SQL Sever and its Command Line Interface (CLI) onto Azure Ubuntu images and on-premises deployments is all very well, the arrival of Active Directory (AD) will pique the interest of administrators dealing with the pain of managing a mixed fleet.
Linux and AD is not a new thing. The vice-like grip in which many enterprises are held by AD has made for many solutions over the years. With Ubuntu, a machine can be signed up to an AD domain at installation. Administrators can then manage the workstations accordingly.
With 21.04, system settings can be configured from an AD domain controller and policies (including password policies) rolled out. As well as favourite apps, other environment settings such as the desktop background can also be changed. Although, to be frank, the idea of replacing that Hirsute Hippo with some tedious corporate branding makes us a little sad.
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The switch to the Wayland display manager is now done by default in Ubuntu 21.04 and Canonical is a confirmed fan of Flutter.
As part of the 21.04 release, it wheeled out Google's Chris Sells, product support manager, to wax lyrical about the tech: "Canonical has been a fantastic contributor to Flutter, enabling Linux desktop support in Flutter and opening up the opportunity to bring high quality Flutter apps to Linux. We look forward to our continued partnership in making Flutter the best choice for app developers, no matter which platform they target."
A dark theme, Yaru (maintained by the community), is also present, as are updated file icons. And users will appreciate improvements in drag-and-drop functionality and updates for applications such as LibreOffice. ®