Ubuntu to release v7.10 of its desktop, server OSes

Debuting on Thursday, they offer improved hardware support

The latest desktop and server editions of the free, open-source Ubuntu Linux operating system will be released on Thursday. They will offer a range of improvements designed for their particular users.

The desktop version of Ubuntu 7.10 includes support for a broader range of printers as well as an integrated desktop search function that will allow users to index files and data on their computers using an on-screen applet.

In a conference call Tuesday, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu Linux, said that the improved printer support uses protocols similar to those used by Apple, meaning any printer that will work with a Mac will work with Ubuntu.

The latest Ubuntu desktop version also supports the use of multiple monitors, automatic firmware installation for Broadcom cards, simple 3-D screen effects and graphics, and automatic installation of popular Firefox Web browser plug-ins that have been validated by Ubuntu.

Version 7.10 will also feature improved compatibility with Microsoft Windows; it will allow users who have dual-boot partitions to read from and write to files that are on located in a Windows partition, including NTFS.

The server version of Ubuntu 7.10 features enhanced security capabilities that allow administrators to lock down programs and resources and to add policies for specific needs. It also incorporates three new quick-start profiles to allow typical services such as e-mail and Web serving to be more easily deployed.

The new server operating system also includes a customized kernel to provide virtualization capabilities and optimization as a guest or host operating system, offering more flexibility to enterprise users working to develop virtualization strategies. This new kernel includes many improvements geared toward paravirtualization, one of which is VMI (Virtual Machine Interface), which offers a new, independent way for hypervisors to relate to the kernel, according to Ubuntu.

The server version also incorporates a new "tickless" idle mode to reduce power consumption in the data center. And other changes improve the configuration and performance of mail servers, according to Ubuntu. The new release of Postfix takes advantage of the kernel's epoll functionality to reduce load and improve performance.

Other upgrades include LDAP authentication, with Ubuntu Server now fully supported as an LDAP authentication client. A new profile-based configuration utility (auth-client-config) simplifies multiple server setup. The new version also offers enhanced Samba compatibility with Microsoft Windows clients, including Vista, that allows better performance and offline log-in for file-sharing.

Ubuntu Server Edition is available and optimized for x86, AMD64, EM64T (Intel Core & Xeon) and Sun Sparc architectures.

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Todd R. Weiss

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